Block Building: The children in this picture are doing more than playing with blocks. They are using problem solving skills as they work cooperatively to construct their building. They are showing their beginning knowledge of basic math and physics concepts. They are also engaged in a deep discussion about this building: "It's an office building with a magic elevator that goes to the North Pole!" This was the beginning of our Architecture Unit.
Bears and Caves: The teachers waited to start this big unit as we were just wrapping up "The Foot Show." We wanted to make sure that the students were still interested in building so we started slowly by talking about bears, hibernation, and caves.Here the children are constructing bear caves with blocks and rocks. We snapped this picture before the roof was assembled.
Language and Teaching Others: The older child (4 years old) in the gray shirt is explaining to the younger child (3 years old) what he has built, where the entrance is, and who lives in the cave. The older child is using his new "bear" vocabulary to express his knowledge of bears and caves.
Completed Bear Cave: The student is placing the last piece of the roof on his cave so his bear can hibernate.
Making a Big Bear Cave: The children are working cooperatively, using problem solving skills, using a variety of materials, and sharing their "bear" knowledge to make a large bear cave.
We're Going on a Bear Hunt: After building the cave, we invited the children to bring in a teddy bear to "hibernate" in the cave. We read "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" many times, learned how to sign it, and retold it by going on an actual bear hunt!
Moving on...After all the bear hunt excitement, the teachers decided to set out invitations for learning about architecture by providing many books, skyscraper pictures by art easels, boxes, tubes, and lots of tape. The children quickly began exploring how to balance boxes and tubes and frequently exclaimed, "I need more tape!" as they constructed towers and buildings.
Blueprints: After reading "Up Goes The Skyscraper" and "Building a House", we learned that before we could really build a house, skyscraper, hotel, or other building we needed a blueprint. Each child drew their own blueprint of a building of their choice.
Blueprints aren't small...
After consulting some books, we saw that the blueprints the architects draw are not small, they are on big paper! We projected the blueprint images onto the wall. The children traced their image carefully and learned how to keep their bodies and heads from creating shadows.
Constructing: With blueprints in hand, students began constructing their buildings with many materials: boxes, tubes, chopsticks, and buttons.
This child is showing his understanding of gravity. He is carefully balancing the tube on top of box and putting lots of tape to make it stay.
The Sears Tower; Each child gave a name to his or her skyscaper, tower, hotel, or house. This child named his "The Sears Tower."
After the construction process was complete, the students referred back to their blueprints to add details. The students used paint, markers, and zigzag ribbon to make their buildings look more realistic.
This child is adding windows to her hotel while explaining how she has stayed at a hotel before and what she did while she stayed there.
Details: There were lots of windows on this child's blueprint. He carefully counted the windows on his blueprint and referred to a book to make sure all the windows were accounted for on his building.
Making a House a Home: This child is making her 3-D model look like her house by adding jig saw work made out of zigzag ribbon and dormers made out of cardboard.
A Job Well Done: The preschoolers had a real sense of pride and self-confidence as they looked at their 3-D representations that they had built using their blueprints.
Clay Models: After we completed our blueprint buildings, we introduced clay into our classroom. We hadn't used it before and began comparing and contrasting it to playdough.
Students carefully began to shape their piece of clay into buildings and poking windows and doors into the sculpture with sticks.
Unexpected but Creative: Some of the sticks became parts of the buildings.These clay models were showcased in the St. Mark's Church Talent Night along with our chalk pastel city skyline.
What Else Were We Doing While We Working on Our City? Students created a city skyline using chalk pastels and tape. They cut short, medium, and long tape to put on paper and then rubbed and blended the chalk pastels next to the tape. The tape was then removed to create an outline of buildings. All these were placed on a large box for display.
Building Our Names: Preschoolers had the opportunity to build their names with Legos. They had to identify their names on a large bag, put their letters in the correct order, and then use problem solving skills to manipulate the Legos to make their names.
Center Time: Students engaged in block building during center time, often creating large and elaborate constructions. These boys are building a gas station with a road to Egypt. The boys really wanted to make a sign, and after discussing how they could accomplish that task, went to the art cart to get paper, scissors, and markers to make a BP sign.
Goodbye Dale: We wanted to create a going away present for the Church's secretary, Dale. She had assisted the preschool staff many times and helped the preschoolers mail letters to Santa. The preschoolers used old maps of Illinois, Chicago, DuPage County, and Glen Ellyn to create a city skyline. They drew rectangles and carefully cut them out and glued them on the blue background. Everyone also signed a card for Dale telling her "Goodbye! and "Good Luck with the Move!"
We Were Still Busy Back in the City: The next step in our blueprint building project was to turn our solitary buildings into a city. The students carefully placed their buildings on two large tables in the hallway. We all stepped back and looked. One of the teachers thought out loud, "Hmmm....I think it is missing some things. What could we add to make it look more like a city?" The students eagerly made a list of ideas of things their city needed: sidewalks, cars, people, a park with a fence "so the kids don't get hurt", roads, a sun, and clouds. They then broke into to teams to make these things for our city. This team is working on the park.
Paying Attention to Details: This team is working on adding a lake, complete with a boat and fish to go by the lighthouse built by one of the students.
A City Turns Into a Town: There was one more thing our city needed: a name. We made a graph and wrote down potential city names. We then voted for our favorites, and the winner was "Friend Town." Our city was no longer a city...it was a town! Students wrote the name of our town on large poster board to welcome visitors to our city.When parent teacher conferences came, we wrote a class letter inviting our parents to "look at our town in the hallway" and "come into the classroom to see our clay buildings." Parents were amazed by the hardwork, attention to detail, and creativity of their preschoolers!
People in Friend Town: These are two friends driving their cars in Friend Town.
Our Town's Motto~"It's where friends come together." Bryce, Age 4