Building Bridges

We are all about building bridges 'round here. We started a couple months ago, following the ideas in Building Structures with Young Children, a most wonderful book. I began by designating a block area and setting it up to invite creation. With the exception of a box of table blocks, our entire block collection has been packed up since well before the move last fall. The first ones I brought out were the large cardboard blocks and Silas was super excited to get right down to building.

Then, every few days I'd add some more building materials (cardboard pieces, unit blocks, planks, and mini hollow blocks) or set out a book for inspiration and to keep interest high. He's been building the most amazing structures every day since then.

The Building Structures book suggests allowing a time for free exploration of the materials and then encouraging an investigation of building towers or enclosures as a hands-on way to delve into the science concepts of each. For a long time Silas has been interested in the Eiffel Tower, so I thought for sure he would lead us down the tower route. Of course, I was completely wrong. He had his own ideas and decided to do neither. What he wants to build are bridges. 

What makes a bridge sturdy and strong?

How can you build a tall bridge and make it so that cars can still get up onto it?

Whenever we do projects, I check out a ton of books from the library and then doll them out slowly, as opportunities present themselves. Lately, though, Silas has been very resistant to reading nonfiction. Every time I pull out a new book he asks, "Is it a true book? Or is it a pretend book?" and he only wants to read the pretend books. Luckily, there are some wonderful picture books about bridges out there.

We've been enjoying: Pop's Bridge by Eve Bunting, Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing by April Jones Prince, and Bridges are to Cross by Philomen Sturges.

There is always a clipboard with paper and a pencil in the block area and I encourage him to draw his creations when he's done. These we then display so that he can see what he's built and return to those ideas later, changing them and building upon them. This evening, for the first time, he used his pencil and paper to plan out his project before he started building.

There's some pretty interesting stuff going on here. I can't wait to talk with him about it in the morning.

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