Our program offers children free choice work time at the beginning of each day; during which they are free to choose their own materials. During this time children talk to their friends, explore materials, concepts, and conduct experiments. Friday, Yousuf designed and built a “Haunted House on the Trampoline”. He was eager to show his friends this spooky house. Cassidy and Jack noticed this structure when they came in. They each selected a car or truck from the bin and joined Yousuf in dramatic block play.
Children’s work of building structures involves thoughts concerning stability, balance and spatial reasoning which can be identified as engineering. They are developing scientific thinking by observing the properties of materials; and developing mathematical concepts such as symmetry, balance, stability, patterns and numbers.
I recorded the dialogue between the children while they were engaged in social play. By observing children we can learn about their interests and preferences, their levels of development, and their personalities and temperaments.
C “This is a busy place. It is always busy at this place”
Y “The cars are so scared”
J “I crashed”
Y “Stop breaking my place”
J “Sorry Yousuf”
C “It was an accident”
Y “I fixed it. We can play now”
C “Im the firefighter truck. Our place is busy where the trucks are loading up. Its spooky here.”
C “We are big trucks”
Y “The bridge is so small, we can’t even get out”
J “I can get out”
C “Me too, look like all of us can get out”
Jack and Yousuf start laughing when the towers fall.
Y “I’m going to enter the spooky house”
J “A monster is over here”
C “My truck is loading with butterflies. I’m almost done. We are coming in”
Y “No tanks allowed in here. The bridge is too small. There is a scary zombie in here. We can’t go in.”
J “Oh Oh. The Haunted House is closed now.”
All of them wait in silence.
Y “Turn left, Turn left”
Y “I’m the zombie” (Holding the green truck)
“Ahhhh” Jack and Cassidy scream.
Cassidy and Jack took their cars and ‘drove’ away.
C “The haunted House is closed”
Y “Oh my truck broke”
They all laugh
Y “Come, lets race”
All go around the table moving their cars by hand on the floor.
C “I win”
Y “I win”
J “Yay, I’m the winner”
Y “ Woooaaaah” (scary sounds) “Its coming from the Haunted house”.
Then Yousuf roars and Cassidy and Jack drive off again. (Chuckles)
Cassidy and Jack begin to chase Yousuf with their cars. While Running Yousuf runs into the Haunted House and in a blink of an eye the towers and the road are a pile of blocks on the ground again. They all laugh hysterically and resume chasing each other.
I love watching children make buildings and structure with open-ended materials. Working together they learn to share and manage their frustrations, think creatively, design, and problem solve. I will be adding ramps to the block center allowing them to independently explore scientific concepts of force and motion. I will be sure to document their detailed and focused explanations related to steepness and speed, weight of objects and the distance the cars roll.