Kids love to build! They are natural-born engineers, who use whatever materials they have available.
Whether that means store-bought blocks and bricks, or simple everyday materials, such as cardboard, if children can build with it, they will.
I recently stumbled across some pool noodles that we had leftover from our Alphabet Boats activity, and knew they would make a great building material.
What we used:
- Pool noodles
- Serrated knife
I began by cutting the pool noodles into pieces (about 1 inch thick) using a serrated knife. Then, I set the pool noodle pieces on the table, alongside a container of toothpicks.
It didn’t take long for Zahir (age 3) to start building.
He initiated a simple pattern activity, which resulted in some counting and easy addition as well.
As he created the pattern, he stopped to count all of the red pieces, and then the blue ones. Next, he counted all of the pieces to find the total.
As his play progressed, he began making shapes. His favorite was a triangle.
When Zahir was done creating on his own, we built structures together, using the toothpicks and pool noodles.
Simple engineering activities like this provide kids with so many opportunities for problem solving and critical thinking.
It’s inspiring to watch children struggle with something, and then come up with a solution on their own. Such a great confidence and self-esteem booster!
Building with various materials is also great for fine motor development.
We do our fair share of building with blocks and bricks designed specifically for children, but using items from around the house, in a new way, is wonderful for getting kids to “think outside the box.”
Do you have a favorite unique building material for kids? I’d love to hear your ideas.