Just because your little learner can't read the words "Frank Lloyd Wright" yet doesn't mean that he won't get a kick out of awesome architectural activities. While creating masterful marvels of engineering may seem out of the question, preschool-aged kids can learn the basics that architecture has to offer. If you have hopes that your child will someday design the next Fallingwater or Guggenheim Museum, start early with an introduction to the building arts.
Chances are that your little one is already an avid architect -- possibly without you even knowing it. While you might think of building blocks as simple play toys, they are actually a beginning basis for developing an understanding of architecture and engineering. When your child stacks wooden, plastic or rubber blocks into teetering towers, he is learning about form and structure. Continue this type of architectural activity and provide your child with a few specialized blocks such as rounded arches or columns. Encourage your mini-architect to build his own structures or help him to copy real-life buildings such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa from drawings or photos. As an added bonus, building with blocks can help preschoolers develop mathematical skills such as understanding spatial relations and shapes.
Your child doesn't need an architecture degree to draw his own blueprints. Help your preschooler to develop his fine motor, spatial relation and critical thinking skills with fun-filled blueprint architectural activities. Try a few different projects, using a variety of drawing tools such as pencils, markers (both thick and thin) and crayons all in blue. Younger architects who are 2 or 3 years old can simply scribble their own blueprint designs onto white paper. Don't worry if their plans look more like curving clouds than the Parthenon; children of this age are just beginning their drawing careers. Older preschoolers can make more structured designs using a blue pencil and a ruler. Reinforce different shapes such as squares, rectangles and triangles when drawing in these artsy activities.
Shape I Spy
Don't let a drive around town or a walk through the city leave your child without a learning opportunity. Slow down and take notice of the architecture all around you. From simple colonial style homes to towering skyscrapers, you can play I Spy-style shape games with your child to help him learn about architecture. Start simple and ask your little one to pick out basics such as squares and triangles in the buildings that he sees. For example, a roof looks like a triangle and a window is a square. Move on to more complex architectural elements such as cylinder-shaped columns or semi-circle arches.
If you have stacks of empty shoe boxes, a recycling bin filled with plastic containers and other assorted cardboard-type items filling your house, reuse them in an architectural construction activity. Give your child free reign to design whatever type of building he sees fit. Provide the basics such as cardboard boxes, plastic yogurt containers (washed and dried of course), paper, glue and tape. Watch as he builds his own apartment complexes, skyscrapers, houses and other buildings by stacking and piecing together the reused odds and ends. After the building is over, give your architect markers or, if you are more daring, paints to decorate his construction sculptures with windows, doors and more.
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