Building day.

Abby thought the bridge building looked like fun, so she got in to build her own bridge to span the gap between blocks.

Abby thought the bridge building looked like fun, so she got in to build her own bridge to span the gap between blocks.

Fridays tend to be more relaxed at our house. We are finishing up lessons, doing projects, and most of all – we spend a lot of time building.

We’ve been playing around with the West Point Bridge Designer software for a few weeks.  The software is part of a competition, but since Nicholas isn’t old enough for the competition, we just play with it at home.

This morning I decided to set Nicholas a challenge. I took the blocks out and set them up about 1.5 feet from each other. I asked him to build a bridge with his Legos that would go across the pan, without touching the ground, and hold 3 of this toy cars. It took him about 25 minutes, but he built one.

Then we moved the blocks farther apart. He decided it had to hold his army tanks too. So began a new challenge.

Nicholas was challenged to build a bridge between the two blocks that didn't touch the ground and could hold his cars. He managed it after a few false starts.

Nicholas was challenged to build a bridge between the two blocks that didn’t touch the ground and could hold his cars. He managed it after a few false starts.

Best of all, Abby got into the challenge too. She wanted my help to design a bridge that would hold her dolls. So we pulled out her Lego Duplo’s and built bridges too.

Nicholas got a little tired of building bridges, so he pulled out his new kit and built a hydraulic crane – it moves using water pressure through a series of tubes. Then he used the crane to help build another bridge.

I went to go grab some other things for Abby, and before I knew it he had some pipe cleaners out and was making a suspension bridge. He put one “pylon” down into the carpet because he says all suspension bridges have pylons into the water. Then he went on building suspension bridges with his crane, pipe cleaners, and Legos.

We did this for about 2 hours this morning, and it was great fun. I didn’t have to do anything except ask questions. My most used questions was, “Why do you think that didn’t work?” I don’t accept “I don’t know” as an answer. Instead I have them think.

When kids are engaging in this type of play, they are learning critical thinking skills. They are presented with a problem, they have to solve the problem, and then evaluate their solution. It’s a great way of developing skills without workbooks.

I enjoy playing and building with my kids. And having them use and develop their critical thinking skills is a plus.

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