This week’s unit will inspire your child to think outside the box and “build” on their understanding of a variety of subjects, including math, engineering, and more. As they expand their knowledge of construction tools and terms, they’ll also be introduced to two architects with differing views on what makes a beautiful building. Bring the lessons into the real world by pointing out local architecture and encouraging your child to notice natural structures that could inspire their own creative works. Click here to download our tracking document to record the skills you work on this week.
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):
- The Ultimate Construction Site Book by Anne-Sophie Baumann
- Construction People by Lee Bennett Hopkins
- Prairie Boy: Frank Lloyd Wright Turns the Heartland into a Home by Barb Rosenstock
- The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeanette Winter
Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):
- small LEGO set (note: several of our activities call for LEGO this week, but feel free to use other similar blocks if you already own them!)
- paper + access to a printer (don’t have one? we like this model)
- stapler (or hole punch and string)
- crayons (or other coloring materials)
- laminator + laminator sheets (optional, but recommended for repeating lessons)
- dry erase markers (if laminating)
- counting blocks (or something similar)
- ingredients for these cookies
- glass beakers (any clear cup or jar will work, but these are great for a more accurate findings)
- marshmallows (or playdough)
- wax paper
- construction paper
- tissue paper
- 8 paint stir sticks (or get them for free at a hardware store!)
- 2 1″x1″ boards, about 21″ long (something like this would also work)
- 16 finish nails
- 4 wood screws
- 4 decorative brads (optional)
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!
The best building projects start with a good foundation—but there are so many important jobs and parts to any construction project! Let’s take a closer look at many of them in The Ultimate Construction Site Book. Read through as much of this book as your child shows interest in, pointing out the tools and vehicles you see.
Activity 1: Create a tool book. Use the printable to work on some simple reading practice while completing the activities.
Activity 2: Dump truck math. Use the printable from this activity, but instead of simply counting out the numbers, use them to find sums and differences. Give your child two number cards and manipulatives like blocks, coins, or small stones. Have them add the numbers together, and then give them a different number to subtract.
Activity 3: Work those scissor skills with this cutting practice printable.
Activity 4: Get moving while working on identifying construction vehicles with these construction vehicle gross motor cards. Feel free to break them out throughout the week whenever your child needs a movement break!
Activity 1: Let’s have a little construction-themed Tea + Poetry today! Start by prepping the dough for these pinwheel cookies. (For our purposes, let’s call them dump truck wheels!) While it chills, complete the next activity. Then you can slice and bake. When they’re done, enjoy them while reading through the poems in Construction People.
Activity 2: LEGO block contractions. A contraction is a shortened form of a word (or group of words) that omits certain letters or sounds. In most contractions, an apostrophe represents the missing letters. Let’s introduce this concept in a hands-on way with LEGO! Watch the brief video in the link for ideas to get started. Note: When you’re done, you can use rubbing alcohol to wipe the permanent marker away.
Activity 3: While we have the LEGOs out, let’s use them in this displacement activity.
Activity 4: Construction color by number.
Today, we’ll be learning about a famous architect who loved to build in a way that complemented the nature around his structures—Frank Lloyd Wright! Begin by reading Prairie Boy.
Activity 1: Frank Lloyd Wright was famous for his use of structural shapes in his architecture. Show your child some of his designs here. Next, let’s learn about some shapes your child might not know yet. First, print this visual guide. Introduce the name of each shape and help your child count the number of sides and angles. Have them write the number inside the shape. Then, build each shape using toothpicks and marshmallows (or you can use little balls of playdough).
Activity 2: Now we know a lot of shapes, but which ones are strongest? Let’s find out with this STEM activity.
Activity 3: One of Wright’s most beautiful architectural creations is called Fallingwater. This home was commissioned by a businessman in Pittsburg to be his family’s weekend home in 1935, and it continues to impress architects and designers today because of it’s unique design and the way it is built with the natural surroundings. (Wright even designed the furniture and interior décor of the house!) You can see a video tour of the outside here. Now, let’s try using some natural materials to build our own structure! Present your child with a small box with some large rocks, leaves or petals, and sticks. Ask them if they think they can build a structure with what is in the box. You could also give them foil or a small dish and some water to create a water element. There is no wrong way to do this activity, so enjoy watching them explore and discover!
Activity 4: Another element common in many Wright homes was his leaded stained glass windows featuring horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines. The result is a design made up of squares, rectangles, rhombi, and triangles. Click here and here for some FLW inspiration, and then use this tutorial to make your own. Encourage your child to incorporate some of the shapes they learned about today!
(-) Looking for a simpler project? Try this Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired bookmark craft!
Of course, not every architect thinks in structured shapes. In fact, many modern designers have pushed the boundaries of building in ways never before seen! One example is Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi architect who drew inspiration from her favorite natural landscapes. Let’s learn more about her and her work in The World is Not a Rectangle. You can also watch this video shares more photos of Zaha Hadid’s breathtaking work, as well as some information about the architect herself.
Activity 1: Is your child feeling inspired by Hadid’s work? Encourage them to design their own building! Let them freehand the outside of the building (perhaps they can take inspiration from the nature around them?), and then print one or all of the blueprint templates here and encourage them to design the rooms. Help them to label the rooms and furniture as they draw.
Activity 2: Let’s practice taking some of the shapes we learned about yesterday into the third dimension! Visit this post to download the constructing 3D shapes activity. For our purposes, you only need to print pages 6, 7, and 10. Provide your child with toothpicks and marshmallows (or little balls of playdough) to build the 3D shapes.
Activity 3: Let’s get some reading practice with this construction-themed CVC word activity. This printable has a LOT of word options, so don’t feel like you need to print them all. Pick a couple of pages to start! You can also have your child write in the letters on the truck insted of using the letter cards if you are able to laminate.
Activity 1: Let’s start our last day with this tool word search. (Tip: This can be a great activity to work on while your child eats breakfast!)
Activity 2: Speaking of tools, did you know that there are instruments that use hammer-like tools, too? In an orchestra, this tool is typically called a mallet, and it is used with a variety of percussion instruments. Percussion instruments are played by either striking (with hands, sticks or mallets), shaking or scraping. Visit this page to learn more about instruments in the percussion family. Then, let’s make our own xylophone with this DIY.
Activity 3: Want to see some percussion instruments in action? Click here for a story told with a percussion musician from the Oregon Symphony.
Now, let’s make our own percussion story! Pick a book you already own that has a repeating line, or you can use this OpenLibrary version of Roadwork by Sally Sutton. As you read the book to your child, whenever you get to the repeating line (or the sound effect noises in Roadwork), have your child add in the sound using their xylophone. You can also incorporate other sounds, like clapping, drumming on pots and pans, or making vocal noises. If you have multiple children playing along, give everyone a different part and layer them together. You’ve made your own symphony!
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