Saturday, May 30, 2015

Letter E Is for Engineering. Introduction to Engineering for Preschoolers: Building Blocks.

Fun with Building Blocks Preschool Activities

Our letter of the week - E is for Engineering - inspired us to explore the exciting field of engineering. My Firefly loves her free play with building blocks. This time I set down with her for more structured play to give her creativity a little boost. We explored several geometric solids and some new building ideas. This post is a part of our "Creative ABCs" series found here: Creative ABCs.


Geometric Solids: Engineering in Action

Our goal for these activities was to introduce the concept of engineering through play. Building blocks feel so familiar to the little hands, but there is so much yet to discover!

What can engineers make? "Engineering Elephants" by Emily Hunt and Michelle Pantoya is our book of the week. "Engineers make elephants with long, swinging trunks. Waite a minute... Do engineers really make elephants?" Amazon affiliate link: Engineering Elephants.

Nature vs. technology: fun silly questions in this book are so much fun! We discussed engineering a little. I found this article helpful for the points of this discussion: What is Engineering? | Types of Engineering from Live Science.

The geometric solids we worked with: cube, cylinder, prism, and sphere. We started with the simple sorting activity: Roll or Stack.

Based on our discoveries, we proceeded to "engineer" new structures.



Roll or Stack? Explore Geometric Solids Hands-on

What can be rolled? What can be stacked? My Firefly quickly found spheres (balls) so that we could roll them to each other for a while.

But what about a cube? Can it roll? She seriously tried to roll a cube! Can we stack cubes? Yes, and we can stack prisms too.

Sorting activity: the green tray is for shapes we can stack and the pink tray is for shapes we can roll. She filled the green tray with prisms, then added a cylinder.


Introduction to Engineering: Challenge 1 - Cylinders

We discovered that a cylinder is very special. It can be rolled or stacked. So it belongs to green and pink tray!

Pictured above:
Invitation to build a gate. The challenge was just right for My Firefly. The trick is to put the prism on top of cylinders. If the only shape to go on top was a cylinder - it would roll off. So here is a control for self correction!


Challenge 2: Shorter Cylinders and a Prism

The horse loves to jump. But the gate is too high for it to jump over. Can you build a playground structure for your horse so that it can jump over it? The invitation to create is pictured below.


The horse is so happy now!


Building Blocks Challenge 3: the New and Improved Castle with Cylinders

At the end of our explorations we built "a beautiful castle" using cylinders and any other shapes from the tray. The foam blocks we used are similar to this (Amazon affiliate link): Verdes Toys, Soft & Safe Foam Building Blocks, Set of 100, (77367)


Our letter E is for Engineering brought us some fun explorations. What were your family's favorite activities this week?

Visit our "Creative ABCs" series for more letter of the week fun and learning: Creative ABCs.

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