For a while now, I’ve been planning to do a theme based on buildings with my inclusive play group. When my spare room began to overflow with materials for the kids to explore and build, it became a necessity! I was undecided about which direction to take, whether I should focus on construction or architecture.
Right now we live in a city where some homes have gorgeous details, and all buildings are adapted to the weather. I decided to use that to begin our group discussion.The children’s responses would help me settle on the direction for the following sessions.
One by one the children started to describe their buildings.
“I live in flats. My building has pink and white, and pink and white bricks.”
“My house is a flat too, but it is very tall. I can see the sky from my window.”
As the children began describing the details, they looked around the room for reference. Shapes like squares and rectangles were easy because of the parts of the building such as the door, the window, the entrance to their building, and the doors of the lift. The kids picked up the patterns from the colors and the textures of the bricks used on the exterior of their buildings.
Not knowing a particular word didn’t seem to inhibit them, they just found ways to express themselves in descriptive ways. For example, as they walked around the room looking for shapes, one child pointed out that the window was a square with a half circle on top of it.
“Have you seen that shape anywhere else on a building?” I asked. She looked doubtful as she shook her head “No.”
“A half circle is called a semi-circle. When you are on your way home today, look around and see if you can spot these semi-circles on any building.”
“I’ve seen a famous building,” one kid volunteered and immediately three other voices chimed in about famous buildings. One child named the Burj Khalifa, and another had seen the Taj Mahal. We looked at pictures of famous buildings from around the world (which included the Taj Mahal). One of the younger children pointed to the Taj and said, “Hey, I know something like that near my house. That’s where they call people for prayer.” When I asked him how it looked the same, he pointed to the dome and said, “The building near my house has a half circle just like this.” “That is a semi-circle,” the other child immediately used the word she had learned earlier.
The kids grabbed a picture each and paired up to find shapes in their buildings.“Hey look, there is a triangle on top of the rectangle.”“Mine has a long rectangle and small squares in the window.””Look this is rainbow shaped. There is a trapezoid on top of the rainbow and then a triangle of the very top.””My building has a semi-circle, just like the window there.”As the kids walked out the door, we could hear them share their observations with their parents, “See the door to that house? It is a rectangle filled with small squares.” They were looking at their environment with new eyes and were evidently interested in the details and structure of the buildings. My plan for the next few weeks was quite clear. The kids and I would build with the materials focussing on the design and architecture that surrounds us in this city.