An Emphasis on Inquiry
Builders ask questions, observe closely over time, and
think about what their observations tell them. What
are the special characteristics of the building they are
trying to make? What materials would best suit this
building project? How can they make a building that
is strong enough to house their dinosaurs? A building
environment encourages such questions and ideas as
well as opportunities for figuring them out.
Sharing Observations and Ideas
In a building culture, children are encouraged to share
their building experiences and ideas through small and
large group discussions, and they learn to listen to what
others have to say. They share their records of what
they built; their ideas about science concepts, such as
what makes a tower stable; and how different kinds of
building materials affect a structure’s integrity. They
learn that ideas are valued and important whether right
or wrong; that people may have different ideas; and
that one can learn by asking questions of others. They
also learn that they need to share how and why they
know what they know as well as what they know.
Documenting and Recording
Observations and Ideas
Builders spend a great deal of time representing and
documenting what they do—using careful sketches
and descriptive words to most accurately remember
their experiences and share what they have noticed
and learned from their explorations. Some builders
begin to use drawings to help them plan too. Builders
can begin to develop these skills no matter their level
of development. In a building environment, materials
for representation are easily available and children’s
work is used to discuss their ideas and stimulate more
Children as Builders
This exploration is designed to provide experiences
over time in which children can engage in multiple
ways depending on who they are and what they bring.
You may find that some children are immediately
drawn into the exploration, using everything you set
out. Other children may be more reluctant, shying
away from the building materials. Some children will
quickly grasp the ideas and strategies for building tow-
ers and enclosures, while others struggle with these
ideas. How children approach this exploration, and
what they learn, is influenced by a range of factors in-
cluding their different developmental levels, experi-
ences, needs, skills, and ideas. As you prepare for this
exploration, you will need to consider these factors.
Young children bring to an exploration of building
their own ideas, interests, and beliefs based in experi-
ence and culture, and tempered by their developmental
level. Some children may have had more opportunity
to play and build with blocks and other materials both
indoors and out; others may have had less opportu-
nity. You might find that some of your girls avoid the
block area and need specific encouragement to build.
Table blocks can be a starting place. Having a time in
the block area just for girls or connecting building with
the dramatic play area are other possible strategies.
Any class presents you with a diverse group of children.
All children can explore materials and objects; all chil-
dren try to make sense of their environment. Each child
in your classroom can engage with science and con-
tribute to the classroom learning whether she is three
or five years old, speaks English or Spanish or Creole at
home, is typically developing or has a special need.
The Building Structuresexploration relies heavily on
children’s hands-on building experiences. Be sure that
all children, including those with disabilities, have op-
portunities to observe and explore building structures.
As you plan, consider environmental adaptations you
may need to make (such as how to arrange the space
and how to place the materials so that all children
know where to find them and can access them easily).
Also think about curriculum adaptations (such as using
visual cues or body language to convey information to
children whose first language is not English) and mate-
rials adaptations (such as having blocks on a table if a
child cannot be on the floor) that can support children’s
participation. Remember that some children may have
little experience engaging in play, either alone or with
others, and may need you to model and encourage.