Little Engineers At Work

The inside of the playhouse remains unfinished. We planned on painting the interior a light colour and that would save us the time and labour of boarding up the walls. Then we decided to board the walls with 1/8” plywood tiles. Two walls are complete and the project has stalled due to the weather.

Sprouting Minds Preschool

Sprouting Minds Preschool: Our Playhouse

Sprouting Minds Preschool

Playhouse Interior

Sprouting Minds Preschool

Playhouse interior

One morning a toy car fell in the space between the studs of the unfinished wall. “Oh no. The car fell inside the wall” Yousuf yelled out loud. “Where?” asked Oliver. Yousuf pointed at the space between the studs. Yousuf and Oliver took turns to look into the space. “Its dark.” Said Yousuf. “I don’t see anything” replied Oliver. “We need a flashlight so we can see. Can you please get us one?” Asked Yousuf. Luckily a flashlight was close by and I was able to provide them with one while keeping their curiosity engaged. They took turns looking with the use of the flashlight but could not locate the car. Even though they were unable to locate the car they had a general idea of where the car was.

Yousuf quickly rushed over to the toy storage and reached over for a spade. “I can get it out with this” he said. Oliver too picked up another spade and they tried to fit their hands in the space. “I can’t reach it” said Yousuf. “Teacher, Can you get it for us” asked Oliver. I put my hand in the space and couldn’t reach the car either. “What are we going to do” asked Yousuf.

When we grouped for circle time that day, we discussed what happened and tried to come up with ideas of how to get the toy car out. “We need an anchor. Pirate ships have anchors to stop the pirate ship” explained Oliver. Yousuf, Amrit, and Adithri agreed. I asked them to draw an anchor for me.

Sprouting Minds Preschool

Oliver’s drawing of an anchor

Sprouting Minds Preschool

Yousuf’s drawing of an anchor

We proceeded to then make a list of items we would need to make an anchor.

Our list:




The Following day we regrouped and recapped what had happened. I showed them the materials I gathered for them to make an anchor. Including the materials listed above I provided them with bendable wire. I also demonstrated how to use their hands to bend the wire until they have reached a desired shape.

The children looked at their drawings and the materials but had no idea how to start. I asked them to lay the wire on the drawing and bend the wire according to their picture. Soon they got a hang of it and asked for help to tie the string to the wire.

Sprouting Minds Preschool

Oliver’s anchor

The children then took their anchors outside and took turns to lower their anchors in between the walls and then tried to pull the car up. Each child analysed the success of his and her anchor with their own experiments. All of their efforts were to no avail. We discussed the outcome during circle time and tried to brainstorm of other ways to get the toy car out? “I don’t know” said Oliver. “It’s stuck and we can’t get it out now” said Yousuf.

Sprouting Minds Preschool Sprouting Minds Preschool Sprouting Minds Preschool


During this time the children involved answered their own questions by problem solving. Even more importantly, they have learned how to collaborate with one another and to think critically.

This is an excellent example of emergent curriculum taking place. Emergent curriculum happens when you support inquiry based learning in your classroom. One form of inquiry based learning is project work which involves children investigating a question or problem over a period of time. Inquiry and projects require that the learner is active. To learn something new children must become aware, explore, inquire, use, and apply.  A project topic should be worthy of investigation. To be worthy children should be engaged in critical thinking, problem solving and not just gathering facts. Informed children become informed community members, and then they are better prepared to become critical thinkers who can participate and contribute to a democratic society.

To further their problem solving skills, I will offer them a Magnetic pick up activity and introduce scientific exploration with magnets. This activity will offer an opportunity to develop an understanding of basic science as well as allow them to experiment with different material properties. With the help of open-ended questions and a reminder of the toy car that’s in between the walls, maybe they will be able to get it out? Stay tuned for more from our little engineers.