Feb 13

Building centers – observing play

Today the girls participated in building centers. Their task was to work in pairs at one center. Each center had a different option for building. Before we began, I showed them the options of toys for building. What they saw was a bunch of fun stuff they couldn’t wait to get there hands on. What they did not realize was I was very interested in their interactions with the toys. How did they build? Did they play? I had two toy choices available that were open- ended play, while the other two were direction-following, more scripted toys.

I was excited to see what they would do.

First they were allowed to chose what they wanted to build. The scripted Lego kits were snatched up first (after all- this is Lego Club for girls!) and the tinker toys were also picked. No one selected the Paolo blocks- I will have to get these girls to try them later. They are honestly really cool!

The girls worked in pairs and the first chunk of time was quiet. (That is rare for girls club). Then, I was starting to observe a lot in their interactions.

Addy and Ali worked together on a Tangled tower. Ali followed the directions to a “T” and I was impressed with what was able to get done in such a small amount of time. Addy, who is four, just played.
Claire and Elizabeth were working on the Lego Friends Brickmaster story set. They honestly could care less about the story and just wanted to build. They skipped right into the directions part of the book. Once one chapter’s parts were assembled, they quickly took it down (no playing) in order to try out the next chapter’s buildings. I was surprised by this, as I would have thought the girls would play with the items they made and interact with them. I think lego was hoping for that too, but for these girls… They just wanted to build.
Madison and Anika were building with the Tinker Toys and their imaginations went to work. Madison started to create a giant creature and Anika was building a horse stable. What was interesting about them was that in about 10 minutes time they were using what they had build separately, to play together. They had a very detailed story with a captured princess. Every time something was needed they dove into the pile to make it, all while playing.
These open ended toys sure did provoke more imagination and creativity.
I’m not saying the open-ended toys are better. I think the ones with directions promote great spacial skills and abilities. Those toys are hard work and take determination. The open-ended toys seem to use a completely different side of the brain. These girls were immersed in their play all while building. In the end, both types are all about learning physics, scale, loading constraints, structure, and much more. These girls are building more than just a creation every time they are building.

The centers were fun. The girls wanted to stay where they were the entire time and not switch. I would like to have them switch another time to try out other the toys. I am interested to see if it changes their interactions with bulding.