Have you ever looked at materials and thought, "I wish my kids would engage with that but they just don’t!"? You are not alone in that! There are so many amazing materials that can encourage learning and growth but seem hard to truly engage children. How we present those materials can be key, however, especially with younger children.
Let’s take the Brackitz Engineering Set as an example. When I first opened the box and pulled out this amazing set my kids were eager to explore it. I set them each up on a Montessori work rug (if you don’t have one that’s no problem! Essentially, I just gave them each their own workspace to minimize arguments) and put the bin in the middle. Then I walked away and observed.
They explored the materials for about 30 minutes and enjoyed them, but I saw that they were unsure how to use certain parts. An older child might be familiar with some of these parts and pieces but my children, nearly 7 years old, 5 years old and nearly 3 years old, needed a little guidance.
That night I set up the materials differently than I had earlier in the day. I pulled up the website and looked for the pictures and ideas, and took the time to make one of the structures. I set things up on our Ikea sensory table and filled the bins with the remaining materials. I left this out as an invitation to create and explore.
The next morning when they went into the schoolroom they became wide eyed and hollered, "who made this?!....MOM!?". They explored the creation, saw how they could use different parts and fairly quickly added to what I had created to make a new engineering masterpiece.
As the day progressed, my creation slowly came apart and new creations came up in its place. They made magnificent things! Some required rethinking their designs and collaborating together to execute them.
I’ve left the engineering set at that sensory table for two weeks now, and they have been using it daily! If you don’t have a sensory table that’s no problem at all! The clear container is enticing since they can see what is inside!
Try removing the lid and placing it on the floor or a table. Starting a creation can be an amazing way to invite a child to explore a material and begin creating. You might even leave out a crucial part of the design and ask them, "hmmm, how could you make this design work?" then sit back and observe.
Looking to refresh your STEAM resources? Here are some of our favorites!
Mobilo Construction Kit - MOB-103
Geo Block Build - MTC-485
Stack & Balance Activity Set - CPX-1165
Build and Play Marble Run Set - KFV-815
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