Tools + Construction Unit

Brick laying, construction sites, and tools—oh my! This week’s unit is all about building up (and even a little breaking down 😉). By the end of the week, you’ll have tackled measuring, engineering, phonics, photography and more! Use our simple printable tracker worksheet to keep a record of those important skills you’re building. 🚧🚧🚧

Note: Occasionally we include project upgrades (for kids ready for more) and modifications (which can be useful for including younger siblings). We’ll mark those with the plus (+) or minus (-) symbols.

What you need:

Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):

Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):

Although you don’t need a tool set for this week, you may want one. Check out this option or this one. You might also want to have some toy construction vehicles.  Many of the bloggers in our unit talk about finding them at thrift stores or dollar stores but if that’s not an option for you, you can find them here.

What to do:

We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!

Lesson 1:

Introduce our unit this week with some construction books! Read The Ultimate Construction Book or Who’s tools? or Busy Builders, Busy Week! depending on your child’s ability. You can also teach the names of tools and construction vehicles with this printout.

Activity 1: Fill the dump truck number activity. Print out the truck and the numbers and practice number value with this hands-on activity. If possible, laminate the page and the numbers to make it last longer (and easier to repeat the lesson later on). Use counters or real rocks to fill the truck. 
(+)Upgrade this activity by adding dice. Roll a die to practice identifying and matching the number on the die to the printed numbers. To practice sums, roll a dice set and have your child add the numbers. To practice subtraction, roll a dice set and have your child subtract the numbers.

Activity 2: Make a tool puzzle and practice matching with a plastic tool set. If you don’t have a play tool set in your home, use this printable activity to play the same game.

Activity 3: Play with water like a plumber and learn about air pressure with this fun engineering activity.

***We want to see your water fountains! Share them on Instagram with #learnandliveletter and tag us @learnandliveletter!

Lesson 2:

Start by reading Pop’s Bridge. This charming book will help your child learn the stories behind those large structures all around us—and realize that they take a lot of people to build!

Activity 1: Build a bridge activity. Use the ideas in that blog post to test a variety of bridge designs and structure ideas. Have your child determine which one is strongest. If your child is younger, you might need to build the bridges and then have them test and compare the different strengths. Older kids will enjoy building different bridges themselves.
(+) Is your child ready to make records of the results? Download our tracking chart here!

Activity 2: Practice patterns with this printable activity. (Print pages 5-8 only.) Instead of working with the printout as a whole sheet of paper, cut the page into strips as the instructions indicate to make this activity easier for your child to master. Be sure to print in color to make the pattern easier to see. Tip: If your child is having trouble seeing the patterns, try saying them out loud to see if they can figure out what comes next—they may be an auditory learner!

Activity 3: Construction slime. If your kid loves slime, try this ooey-gooey activity. That blog post provides inspiration on how to play with the slime, but you can use this slime recipe—just add a few drops of gray acrylic paint on the second step and then mix in aquarium (or outside) gravel at the end for texture if desired.

Lesson 3:

Read Brick by Brick. This story will introduce a mason’s profession. Do you have brick structures in your community or on your own home? Be sure to point these out the next time you pass by one.

Activity 1: Have your child try their own hand at brick laying with this hands-on activity. (Don’t have blocks? You can also use dominos, match boxes, or even make an edible version with crackers and nut butter!)

Activity 2: This shorter and longer measuring math activity provides fine motor skills practice while also building on language skills. You may want to connect this activity with our story by observing the size of the bricks in our pictures. Do they use the same size all the time? Do they ever cut the bricks to make them smaller?

Activity 3: Let’s continue our building activities today by learning the names of geometric shapes. This shape activity will reinforce geometric naming and building with marshmallows and toothpicks. Count the corners and the sides of each shape to reinforce the lesson and work on those counting skills.
(-) Need a modification? Reinforce shape recognition with this build-a-truck activity. Cut out the paper shapes in advance, then let your child build their truck. Glue their favorites to a piece of paper to display.

Lesson 4:

Start by reading Builders & Breakers, then talk about what it would be like to visit a construction site. What would you expect to see? What would you hear? Try to engage all of their senses as you read.

Activity 1: Let’s examine a photograph called “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper.” It’s a famous photograph by an unknown person. Here’s an excerpt from the article in the link: 

Taken Sept. 20, 1932, during the construction of Rockefeller Center, the well-known portrait of 11 immigrant laborers, legs dangling 850 feet above Midtown, ran in the Oct. 2 Sunday supplement of The New York Herald-Tribune, with the caption “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper.” Everybody knows the picture. Nobody knows who took it. And for most of its 80 years no one has known who’s in it.

Discuss the picture with your child. Would they want to eat lunch up in the air like the construction workers in the photo? Do the men look scared? Older children might want to discuss what an immigrant is and how they have played an intrical part of infrastructure throughout American History. 

Activity 2: Visit a construction site in your area. Observe the workers and the activity. Ask questions like, “Does this remind you of your book? What is the same? What is different from what you expected?”
(+) Have your child take a photograph of something on the site that stands out for them. Edit the photograph to black and white and create your own art piece by having it enlarged, printed and displayed in your school area or home. You might be amazed at what they capture!

Activity 3: Measuring length activity. Use DUPLOs, LEGOs, or a ruler (Need one? Get this printable version here. Click directly on the image to print.) to measure your family’s feet. (You may want to trace feet on construction paper first to make the process a bit easier.) If your child is really engaged, let them use the blocks or their ruler to measure other items around the home like cups, silverware, books, crayons, etc. 

Lesson 5:

This week is packed with construction fun, so use today to re-read any books your child loved or catch up on books you may have missed so far.

Activity 1: Build a simple bird feeder.
(+) This construction project using paper towel rolls and straws will be a great upgrade for the builder in your house.

Activity 2: Rocks and construction literacy activity. Make your own sensory bin with rocks, sticks, pebbles and construction vehicles. (You can also used dried beans or sand for added texture!)  If you kept your river rocks from our Rocks Unit, bring those out again. Write a letter on each rock until you have the entire alphabet. Then, use this sensory play activity to practice letter recognition, letter sounds, sight words or teaching your child to spell their name. Remember to meet your child wherever they are in their phonics journey!

Activity 3: Let’s move a little with the help of these construction vehicles movement cards. 🚚

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