Take a Structure Walk

Children can learn a lot about the science of building by taking a walk around the neighborhood. They get out of the house, they get some exercise, and they have an opportunity to examine and think about structures they see and then transfer that ‘seeing’ into building structures at home. Though families are not likely to have a full set of Keva blocks at home, sometimes just paper towel rolls, newspaper and tape, a laundry basket, or other ‘found items’ will do. But what should our walk look like?

Here are some things to note parents to spark creativity and a little science learning:

  • Size of the structures you see (comparing the tallest, smallest, widest, or the one you think has the most room inside;
  • Materials used for the structures are built from (wood, bricks, metal), and what about parts of the structure? Is there a chimney?  Is the material different from the rest of the structure;
  • Who might live or work in the structure? What clues do you see that tell you that?.  What things might the people who live and work in the structure need?
  • How do designs differ? Are there arches, pillars, fences, different kinds of roofs?
  • What are some characteristics of each structure? How many windows, doors?  What are their shapes?  Are there fences enclosing the structure?  What materials are they made of?
  • How are the structures alike and different?

Back at home, families can look for materials the child might use to recreate her vision of a structure that interested her or draw the house, store, etc. she saw on the walk.  Families can have the child:

  • Describe their structure (and the materials he used to build it;)
  • How does it compare or not compare with what he saw on the walk?
  • How did he show the characteristics of the structure he is recreating…what building materials did he use? What other things did he try?

If a walk is out of the question or you just want to extend or reinforce the science of the activity you can use pictures of structures…maybe three or four at most…and discuss with the children the items above.  Then an ‘at home’ activity might be to recreate a picture they liked with found materials or draw the structure to share at the next group or individual Zoom time.

This article was contributed by Mary Perkins for the Early Childhood Express newsletter.