We live in a forestry neighborhood. We can't see our neighbors. So when a family bought the lot ‘next' to our property, I knew we were in for some excellent play and learning over he next year. From clearing the land to building the home to the less tangible ideas around environmentalism. There are loads of ways to learn from a building site. Please note that we explore our local construction site in a safe manner with proper shoes and permission from the crew and the property owners.
Fun Ways to Learn at a Construction Site
Read the Lorax as an opener to discussing while watching trees being cleared is exciting there are sacrifices that our earth makes for our homes. Talk about the ways the timber is used and reused.
Work those gross motor skills! This one is a bit tricky but typically there will be mounds of dirt, tree stumps, holes dug, and levers made from wooden boards to help crew with walking the site. Kids can jump up, jump down, jump sideways, slide, climb, go under, and go over. The possibilities are endless.
I love the science behind cement. Watching my boys' eyes as cement is poured onto the ground and then observing their reactions over the day as the cement harden not only lays the groundwork for learning but brings joy to our family. Why does cement harden? What makes it hard?
Building a House Sequence
The number of steps involved in building a home are ridiculous. It is a tough and complicated job to say the very least. How a House is Built by Gail Gibbons is one of my all time favorite books to teach this subject. This books gets kids' creative juices flowing and strengthens executive functioning skill development. My sons have been able to see from forest to concrete foundation and framing at this point. I found these cool Building a House Sequencing posters but I'd like to create my own with real images and break it down a bit more. We also love the book A Year at a Construction Site.
Tree to House Sequence
How does a builder get the lumber to build a house? Cut down the trees, trim them, strip the bark, cut the timber, make lumber, sell to builders, then build furniture or homes.
With trees getting chopped down there is wonderful observation, storytelling, and numeration in studying the lines. Count the number of lines to estimate the age of the tree. Find a young tree and an old one. Tell the story of a tree's life.
This benefit is obvious. I was surprised, though, by the wide range of sensory exploration in our experience. My favorite was the sawdust. Since several trees had been cut down, there were several piles of timber. However, not all the timber was going to be used to sell for the lumber for a few reasons. So, those logs that weren't being sold were up for grabs for people wanting firewood. As a result there was a lot of sawdust. What fun we had playing in it and building piles! Then, of course, there are rocks and dirt.
Layers of Soil
As the trucks dug deep into the ground the layers of soil that we don't see every day revealed themselves. Seeing the layers of soil alone was beautiful but discussing the layers of soil was a whole lot of learning fun for me and my sons! Soil experiments with kids are fun and intriguing for all.
Kids have a blast building catapults, levers, and other simple machines from simple natural objects like rocks and wood.
The ground is dug up to levels that may have not seen the light for hundreds or even thousands of years. Go on a rock hunt. Explore and examine the rocks dug up by the big machines. Maybe you'll discover a fossil!
Walk the Line
From the measurements created by the builders to logs fallen or cut to the ground, there are a variety of ways to practice balance and grace. Find nature's lines and practice “walking the line”.
Parts of a Tree Trunk
The beauty of bark being stripped from the ‘meat' or wood of the tree trunk struck me. People came by the check out the timber for potential buying. We could see where the builders has stripped back the skin of the tree. Then we talked about essential oils and how some oils come from the wood (cedarwood) and some come from the bark (cinnamon).
I hope you enjoyed this post!