This post is all about Engineering. Engineering is such a big word to use for a little child but there are so many simple and easy activities that can be done. Engineering is a really good thing for your child to be interested in as they learn so much by doing it. It is great for their hand and eye co-ordination, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, cognitive development, (which is information processing) and problem solving.
Usually when people talk about engineering they think of trains, cars, things that move. But an Engineer is a much wider scale than that and is actually someone who designs and builds something such as machines or systems or structures that help solve a specific problem.
The first steps of Engineering is probably something your child has been doing from a young age and you haven't realised it. Who's child has build something to help them climb up on top of it? For example the couch? That right there is engineering! They saw that there was a problem climbing up onto the couch and built something that solved the problem and helped them get up onto it.
So I thought about what activity I would like to do with Lily to help her learn a little more about Engineering. It had to be something that was on a 2 years olds level of learning and so I decided that we would build different types of bridges. So I got out her bricks and bought some wide lolly pop sticks from the shops. For this activity you don't have to use these and could find something else you have at home that may be great to build bridges with. If your child is old enough a great start to engineering would be for them to find and figure out what they could use to make a bridge.
So bridge number one. I helped Lily with the designing of the bridges. She has never made them before and so this was something new for her. I firstly decided to make a low down wide bridge. I chose two bricks that were long and didn't pile any more bricks on top. I showed Lily how to lay the sticks on top and let her do them herself so she was constructing the bridge.
This was really great for Lily to have to be very gentle with the sticks to lay them down. As this was a wide bridge she had to use quite a few sticks and found it easy to lay them on it. After building the bridge Lily was really pleased with herself. The next challenge was to see which of her cars would the bridge hold. We had 2 cars, one slightly smaller than the other and one small train. I let Lily place each one on to see if it would hold on the bridge. If your child is a little older, you could always ask them before you placed it on if they thought the bridge would take it. This means the child is having to look at size and solve the problem do they need to make a bigger bridge or smaller.
If you were to do this activity with an older child and ask them questions and be getting them to solve weather they needed a smaller of bigger bridge then I would start with an impossibly small bridge and get them to build it bigger and bigger until it took the car just like the bridge above did.
After trying all the cars on the bridge and them all staying on. I made it a little tricker for Lily by making a smaller higher bridge. This made it tricker for lily to balance the sticks on top but she still did a good job. We found that the train fit on it perfectly and the car did, but only just.
Our next bridge we did was the trickiest. I decided to make a really thin but high bridge with Lily to see if we could manage to get the train to stay on top. I helped Lily build 2 towers, and taught her that both sides had to be the same. After she build it really high we had to put the sticks on top. Lily found this so difficult and it did take many attempts but eventually we managed to balance 2 sticks on top of the towers.
The next challenge was to see if the train would sit on top. And...
It didn't and the bridge came crumbling down. At this point I had to make Lily laugh about the bricks all falling down as she was a little bit disappointed to see it all go down after the effort of making it. So then I decided our final bridge would be perfect for the train. We figured that it needed to be higher so then maybe cars could go under the bridge, but also wider than the one brick tower. So Lily helped me one final time to build a bridge.
Lily was really getting the hang of it by now and was understanding where the sticks needed to go and how they needed to go next to each other. She then placed the train on top and it sat there perfectly. I did one more thing to it and that was put bricks on top of the lolly pop sticks at each end just to add some more stability. Lily was super happy with the bridge and started to drive her cars through it.
Now that we have done this activity I have left the sticks with her bricks incase she ever wants to build a bridge again.
Have you ever build a bridge with your child? What other Engineering activities have you done with your children?