Exploring construction games
Key experiences for babies and toddlers-Object exploration
A construction game can be defined as any set of parts that can be assembled to create or represent an object.
At a very young age, children will not assemble the actual parts of a construction game. However, they will have fun manipulating them, banging them together, observing them, and putting them in their mouth. This is how babies discover the shape and dimension of objects. As they grow, they will slowly begin stacking them and, of course, watching them fall as they explore cause and effect. Children find this activity quite amusing, despite its repetitive nature. Toddlers will be the first to assemble construction game parts and use them to build simple structures. They will appreciate the challenge of building a very high tower and then seeing it fall to the ground.
Variety of construction games
Construction games are not limited to wooden or plastic blocks. It is very important that you present a variety of construction games and activities to your group of babies and toddlers. The goal is to introduce them to items of different sizes, colors, shapes, and textures.
Store-bought and homemade construction games
Stores offer a wide range of construction games that little ones will enjoy. However, you can easily make your own construction games too. Here are several activities that will help you introduce your group to the key experience: Exploring construction games.
Milk carton construction game
Use clean empty milk cartons to create a homemade construction game. Flatten the triangular section of each carton to form rectangular blocks. Wrap the blocks with colourful tape (sold in hardware stores). This will make your blocks more durable and washable. Encourage children to explore and stack your homemade blocks.
Plastic container construction game
The advantages of using plastic containers are that they are lightweight and come in different shapes and sizes. They are ideal for a homemade construction game. Put the lid on your plastic containers and let children stack them as high as they wish.
Personalized wooden blocks
You will need wooden blocks or cubes. Invite children to draw directly on the cubes. Varnish them with a non-toxic product and let children manipulate their personalized blocks as they see fit.
Gigantic construction game
Depending on the ages of the children in your group, select small or large boxes with lids. Have fun drawing on the boxes to add a touch of color to your giant blocks and stuff them with newspaper to make them sturdier. Make sure they aren't too heavy. Show children how they can stack them to represent different structures.
Modeling dough is great for creating a variety of constructions. Set modeling dough shapes (pyramids, balls, cubes, etc.) on a table and invite children to use them create different structures. If you wish, add Popsicle sticks. Toddlers will enjoy pricking them in the dough.
Purchase sheets of magnetic paper at your local office supplies store. Glue a piece of magnetic paper on one or two sides of several wooden blocks. Children will enjoy using your magnetic cubes on metal cookie sheets for a variety of creations.
This activity is perfect for older toddlers. You will need several flat rocks. Glue a piece of Velcro on each one (alternating male and female Velcro). Show children how they can stick the rocks together to represent various sculptures (supervision required).
Icy construction game
Pour water in small plastic containers and set them in the freezer. Once the water has turned to ice, remove the shapes from the containers and let children use them to create icy constructions.
Exploring construction games with their senses
Sound-filled construction game
To make construction games even more interesting, add tiny objects that will produce sounds. When creating homemade construction games, add rice, tiny bells, or dry pasta to your milk cartons, boxes, or plastic containers before sealing them. Make sure the items can't fall out of your blocks or containers. Let babies and toddlers shake them to explore the sounds.
Scented construction game
Use tiny plastic containers. Punch a few holes in each lid and place a scented candle inside every container. With supervision, let babies and toddlers explore these scented containers.
Texture-filled construction game
Make your construction games even more interesting by adding different textures. Glue fabric pieces on your blocks: fur, felt, velvet, etc. Let children manipulate them to explore each texture.
Exploring edible construction games
Cut cubes or other shapes out of Jell-O to create a fun construction game with parts children can eat. This is a great way to make snack time interesting. Show babies and toddlers how they can stack the Jell-O pieces before eating them. Here is how to prepare Jell-O that can easily be cut into shapes:
- Add 2 ½ cups of boiling water to 4 packages (4 portions each) of Jell-O powder. Mix for 2 minutes or until Jell-O powder is completely dissolved.
- Pour the preparation in a 13 in x 9 in pan and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until set.
- Dip the pan in lukewarm water for 15 seconds before cutting Jell-O into cubes or using cookie cutters to cut out Jell-O shapes. Store in the refrigerator.
Cheese block constructions
Cut white and orange cheddar cheese into cubes and rectangles. At snack time, serve them with crackers. Invite children to use both the cheese and crackers to build a variety of structures. Show little ones how they can pile them one on top of the other.
Cut several watermelon slices. Use cookie cutters to create several different shapes and use them for a construction activity. At the end of the activity, children can eat their constructions.
Construction game with figurines
With toddlers, add tiny figurines to your construction activities. They will enjoy building homes for them or placing them at the top of their towers.
Encourage children to explore construction games in a variety of different places. For example, bring your construction games outside or to the playground. Invite children to play on a table, on the floor, or under various furniture items.
A little bit higher
With older toddlers, use old telephone books to create stairs. They will love building on the stairs to create higher structures. Challenge them to make the highest tower ever!
Photographed construction activities
Take pictures of children enjoying different construction games. Use the pictures to decorate your building blocks area or to create a unique photo album they will love to look at again and again.
Early childhood educator