Each activity lists a general age range the project is
intended for, but remember, all kids are unique and
you need to use your own judgment about when a
child is developmentally ready for an activity. Chil-
dren will approach activities and materials differently
based on their age, development level, and personal
preferences. In some cases, younger children may not
be able to work with a project the same way an older
child will but they can benefit from it nonetheless.
Also remember that kids can change fast. A child may
show no interest in a particular activity one day but
find it deeply meaningful a day or week later.
Ease of Construction
Each activity has a rating of 1 to 3. Here is what
those ratings mean:
= Super simple. Buy the materials,
put them in front of the kids, and get out of the way.
= Easy, but not effortless. Although
some construction or modification to materials is
required, power tools are not.
= Worth the work. These projects either
have a few more construction steps or require power
tools. They aren’t really complicated; they just may be
outside some people’s comfort zone. If you don’t want
to take on one of these projects yourself, you likely
know people who would. It should not be too hard
to convince them to help: just show them the project
description, say “the kids would really appreciate it”
in your sweetest voice, and offer them some pizza, an
adult beverage, or other inducement. Heck, these may
end up being the easiest projects for you to complete!
Here you’ll find a few paragraphs explaining what
the project is all about as well as details and stories
about how children engage with the materials.
Because being able to explain your teaching rational
is so important, this section looks at what children
learn when they use the activities and projects. You
can always look here if someone asks a question like
“Why is Aaliyah playing with that?” This is probably
the most important heading for those of you who are
fighting daily battles to preserve play in the lives of
young children. You may, however, find that children
are learning more than what is listed here.
This is your shopping list for each project, a nice
short list of things you need.
This is a numbered list of steps you will take to com-
plete the project.
Some activities require a bit more supervision or care.
Safety notes are included when a safety reminder is
Under this heading you will find—surprise!—varia-
tions for using the materials. These are often things I
didn’t initially think of but saw the children do when
they got their hands on the stuff. I also suggest other
items you can add to the mix to extend children’s
play and different ideas for getting the most bang
for your buck.
Here are some final tips for getting the most out of
When possible, let older children help shop for
or gather the materials for the projects. This
engages them in the activity from the very begin-
ning and creates additional learning opportu-
nities. I know field trips can be tough, but the
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