Saturday, April 28, 2012

Dream Big...Building

Creating sculptures is a great exercise for children of all ages.  Whether you give them an opportunity to work with clay, blocks, or other materials (straws, cardboard tubes, sticks, etc) children will get the opportunity to practice motor skills that don't often come into play when coloring or painting.  Sculpture--especially if you're working with a combination of materials--will also introduce children to math and science lessons (weight, gravity, balance, and so on) and naturally lends itself to experimentation, observation, and reaction.

This summer, children from 3-12 can be engaged in a program about building, especially if they're encouraged to Dream Big and Build Big!

Ages 3-6

Read, We Were Tired of Living in a House by Liesel Moak Skorpen or The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Pinkwater, which never gets old, not ever, ever, never.
Preschoolers will love arranging, stacking, and destroying cardboard box cities.  Cover boxes in all sizes in butcher paper.  Each child can decorate their own box as wildly as anything in Pinkwater's picture book. Let them work together to arrage their boxes and create a city of their own.  Cardboard tubes, crazyily-shaped cartons or tubs, toy vehicles and people will add to the fun. 

Or, using the same boxes as above, ask children to work together to create the tallest building they can manage.

Read, Up Goes the Skyscraper by Gail Gibbons and introduce mathematical concepts to kindegarteners- 2nd graders with How Tall is Tall by Victoria Parker 

Ages 7 and up
Older children will be able to skillfully manipulate a variety of building materials.  Gather whatever you can find, and let them experiment with combinations and techniques to create the tallest/widest/wackiest structure they can invent.

Read one of David Macaulay's titles:  Rome Antics, Castle, or Unbuilding.  Macaulay  is a master of understatement in so many ways, and that always infuses his books with a sense of mystery.  They tickle the imagination and leave the reader contemplating all of the other stories that could be evolving between the pages.  Encourage children to write their own story about the structure that they created.  Perhaps it will be the story of how it was made (or unmade) or the story of the people who live within.

Everyone kind of enjoys hearing about people who dreamed a little, too big...Fantastic Feats and Failures will introduce your audience to some of the cleverest and most creative feats of engineering as well as a some really big Ooops.

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