Buildings are popping up everywhere at TLS, especially in the PreK imagination.
What do we know about construction? We know there is a lot of it happening at TLS right now and not just outside. Seems everywhere you turn at The Lexington School, kids are building: building life skills, building brain power, and literally building.
Let’s start with the young ones. If you want to learn about construction, take a peek into Prekindergarten, and the facts will line right up. PreK construction projects start with a question and end with, well, more questions! After all, there is no easier time to encourage curiosity than preschool. These developing brains are little sponges that yearn for more scoop about life and how things work.
PHASE ONE QUESTION What do we ALREADY know about construction? Prekindergarten’s answers: “They dig. They use wood and bricks. You can build houses. They are building a Costco. Sometimes they get rocks. They use cement mixers. They use pipes. They use hammers. Sometimes they have to cut down tree.”
PHASE TWO QUESTION What do we WANT to know about construction? What are the names of all the trucks and tractors? How do you stick wood together? Why do they use bricks? Where do they get bricks? What is our favorite construction vehicle? How do concrete mixers work? How do you build a house? How do the workers dig?
The questions keep coming. Finding out the answers is part of the project mindset, but HOW we find answers is where curiosity becomes skills-building. The work towards finding answers is what makes the learning fun and keeps the kids curious and asking for more.
It’s what keeps the teachers on their toes, too. Project facilitation requires teachers who are prepared to follow the preschool mind through its stages of wonder and to provide experiences that help children find answers while forming more questions.
PHASE THREE RESEARCH Basic research: Read and perform “The Three Little Pigs.” Children built small houses out of a variety of medium including sticks, straw, and brick. Library research: “How long does it take to build a house.” They found and read a book where it took one family five years to build their house! Market research: They built and executed a “public” survey to answer the question “What is your favorite construction vehicle?” They sorted the data. Expert speaker: Mr. des Cognets visited to help determine the best ways “to stick wood together.” After attempting various strategies, the data proved that drilling a long screw into two pieces of wood was most effective. Observational drawings: Children took to the field to sketch actual construction in progress. The IT department provided the classrooms with live feed footage of construction work across campus. Off campus research including personal videos of construction happening elsewhere. Construction office: Hands-on practice inside the classroom included taking measurements, interpreting blueprints, and “coffee breaks” for reflection on how the project is shoring up.
FINAL PHASE How does a construction project end? Answer: It doesn’t.
Prekindergarten classes will move on to new and exciting thematic learning activities, but a project can stay alive for an entire year if the children continue to wonder about it. For some, the project may last forever as they pursue engineering, architecture or even build their own houses one day. That’s the beauty of strong project work. It can pique a passion and even predict future professions! At the very minimum, project work creates a culture of curiosity and critical thinking where learning is personal and finding solutions is fun.