Plastic Cup Towers

Children love to build. It’s something to do with the challenge, the skill and probably the knocking down, that makes it such an appealing activity for kids. As stated earlier, when your child plays with blocks, building replicas of the world around her, she is like a little scientist, experimenting with balance, structure, space, and even gravity! Have you ever watched your child attempt to build a simple tower, only to have it fall down at a particular height? Perhaps you have noticed that she tried different ways of placing the blocks until finally she created a tower that stayed up! Amazingly, what she is doing is using the scientific method of experimentation, observation, and cause-and-effect to solve the problem of the tumbling tower.

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Pool Noodle Sculptures

Using toothpicks, and pool noodles, your little architects constructed their very own structures! Playing with a variety of building materials is critical for the development spatial thinking, or envisioning where different items go in relation to each other as they build. Deciding whether their pool noodle goes over or under another pool noodle, or whether it is aligned or perpendicular to it, are just the kinds of skills that support later learning in science, technology, engineering and math.

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Toilet Paper Roll Tinker Toy

For this activity, we used toilet paper rolls, pipe cleaners, and straws to create our very own structures. Given the many shapes that these building materials come in, they were the perfect tool for hands-on learning about basic math concepts: shape, size, area, geometry, measurement, and equivalencies. While playing with the toilet paper rolls, your child naturally began to sort them by a particular attribute, such as shape and size. He may have noticed that short toilet paper rolls made much better bases than the longer ones, or that the straws need to be bent in order to fit inside the holes.  This exploration into the nature of shapes prepares your child for later geometric understanding.

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Beth Sholom Synagogue

Beth Sholom Synagogue in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania is considered by many critics to be Wright’s most expressive building. The structure is anchored to the ground by concrete walls that incorporate the foundation buttresses for the three steel tripod girders which support the steeply inclined walls, allowing the full upper floor freedom from internal supports. The woven walls of the sanctuary are composed of translucent layers of wire glass and plastic with air space between them for insulation. During the day, the interior is lit by natural light entering through the translucent walls overhead. At night, the entire building glows from interior artificial lighting. For this particular activity, we used popsicle sticks covered in foil (to simulate steel) and white clay to create our version of this magnificent structure. When playing with a diverse array of materials, children come across new experiences with each tower, structure, and building they create. At the preschool age, your child is learning to develop sophisticated use of language, stringing sentences together using larger vocabulary and in-depth thought processes. For this activity, your little one was encouraged to use adjectives such as “humongous” and “sturdy,” as opposed to simpler words like “big” and “strong.” Your budding architect was also asked open-ended questions about their structure, which inspired them to have new ideas, as well as nurture confidence in creativity.

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Fallingwater House

Fallingwater House is located in southwestern Pennsylvania. It hangs over a waterfall using the architectural device known as the cantilever. Wright described his architectural style as organic – in harmony with nature. Though Fallingwater reveals vocabulary drawn from the International style in certain aspects, this country house exhibits so many features typical of Wright’s natural style – the house very much engaged with its surroundings. When Wright created this masterpiece, he envisioned the powerful sound of the falls, the vitality of the young forest, the dramatic rock ledges and boulders; these were elements to be interwoven with the serenely soaring spaces of his structure. He understood that people were creatures of nature, hence an architecture which conformed to nature would conform to what was basic in people. For this activity, we combined a variety of natural materials to create our own version of the Fallingwater House. When your child plays with these elements, building replicas of the world around them, they are like little scientists – experimenting with balance, structure, space, and even gravity!

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