Preschool engineering is the process of building and designing something to solve a problem.
Did you know originally commercial playdough was made to be a non-toxic wallpaper cleaner?
Scientists, mathematicians, engineers and artists all use the same critical thinking skills to find new and innovative solutions. Children are naturally born engineers, problems solvers, and collaborators.
Mix playdough with different materials to create engaging building challenges for young learners.
Step 1: Gather your materials.
Step 2: Arrange the materials in a pleasing way to invite the children to build.
Step 3: Let the children build! Give time for open exploration of materials. Remember, it is the process of creating that is important rather than outcome.
What can you build?
Playdough and Craft Sticks
What can you create with craft sticks and playdough? Instead of building up try building out, horizontally. How far can you go?
Playdough and Straws
Try cutting the straws into a variety of lengths. The different length straws will introduce working with materials that are various sizes and is an excellent time to introduce math vocabulary. Which straw is longer? Which straw is the shortest?
Playdough and Toothpicks
Toothpicks and playdough is a great combination to build high structures. Play with different shapes and forms to see what you can create.
Playdough and Foam Blocks
Foam block can be a building material on its own but pair blocks with playdough, and you have a new experience for young engineers.
Playdough and Pasta
We used dyed pasta, but the pasta doesn’t have to be dyed to combine it with playdough. Try different shape pasta to inspire new sculptures and structures.
Playdough and Birthday Candles
For my daughter’s 5th birthday I needed to buy candles, and the pack at the dollar store had 60 candles! I only needed five so the rest of them we used to build. Birthday candles are a cheap way to incorporate a material that will engage your children.
Playdough and Glass Beads
These types of glass beads are found in the floral department of your craft or dollar store. The beads are flat, yet round to provide a fun shiny surface to build. How tall can you build your structure?
With preschool engineering activities the final product of the activity is not as important as the process. Allow time for the children to play with the materials. Children will naturally seek building or engineering solutions through open-ended play.
While playdough may not clean your wallpaper as it was originally intended to do it does help children build fine motor skills and creative thinking.