Ready-To-Use Teaching Idea: Problem Solving
- clay or play dough
- Styrofoam blocks and Styrofoam "popcorn"
- pipe cleaners, twist ties, and large paper clips
- yarn or string
- small paper tubes
- scraps of colored paper and foil
- hole punch
- containers for the suggested construction materials
Objective: Children develop social, creative-thinking, and problem-solving skills when they work in small groups to create constructions using a variety of materials.
- Collect the suggested art materials and set up a table or floor work area for children. Show children the different types of materials that they can use for the activity. Explain to children that they will use the materials to create collage constructions and they can use different materials to attach and connect instead of tape or glue.
- Invite children to investigate the materials that they will be using. Engage them in a discussion about how the different materials can be used to connect things together. Ask children to think of how they could use clay, twist ties, or foil to connect materials. What can be placed into Styrofoam to build or connect? Younger children may need hands-on assistance or modeling. Remind all children to use the materials safely and assist them in doing so.
- Encourage children to work with a friend or in a small group. Provide assistance if needed. Offer children time to investigate the materials and develop their ideas. Children may enjoy working with the materials for several days to investigate the different ways materials can be used.
- Conclude the activity with a language experience activity. Children can talk about what they constructed, how they constructed it, or what they learned about the different materials. Capture their thoughts on an experience chart and display it along with their constructions. Keep materials accessible to encourage further construction activities.
Science: Does It Float? Children can use the water table to investigate which of their constructions will float and which will sink. Does a Styrofoam construction float? What about clay? Why do some clay constructions float and others sink? Ask children to predict how much weight they can add to a construction before it sinks. Record the predictions and then investigate!
Learning Through Play: Problem Solving by Ellen Booth Church
Tools by Susan Canizares and Samantha Berger
Tulip Builds a Birdhouse by Dale Gottlieb