Step 1: Gather materials.
- Materials from nature for building (twigs, rocks, sticks, leaves, etc)
- Materials to help children build with materials from nature (string, twine, tape, wire)
Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.
Step 2: Introduce activity.
- In large group, ask children if they have ever built with materials found in nature. Ask them to share the building experience with the group.
- After children have shared, explain that they will be going on a walk to collect materials that they can use for building.
- Go on a walk and encourage children to collect as many materials as possible so that everyone can have an opportunity to build.
- While collecting materials, discuss the characteristics of the materials (ie. sticks may be smooth or textured)
Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.
- Once back in the classroom, in small groups, invite children to design and draw what they want to build.
- Ask children to think about the materials they want to use and incorporate them into their drawing.
- After the children draw what they want to build, invite them to start building using the materials collected on their walk (sticks, leaves, rocks, etc).
- As the children are building, ask if their house looks like their original design and if different, why did they choose to build it different?
- As they are building, also observe if there are any challenges that children may encounter as they are building and ask questions such as: “Do you think you need something to help these materials stay together, connect to one another, or to help stack these materials? What do you think will help these materials do that?”
- Have a basket ready with some of these materials in the discovery area and encourage children to use these materials as they need them.
- Once the children are done building, encourage children to talk about their building process. How was it the same or different than from building with blocks or legos? Did the characteristics of the materials affect the building process and if yes, how?
- Encourage children to present their design and what they built to the class in large group.
Step 4: Vocabulary.
- Design: To create a plan for something that will be built
- Collect: To gather a group of things together for observation or study
- Characteristic: A feature or attribute of an object
- Test: To try out an idea to see if it works or not
- Conclude: To make statements about what was learned after an observation or experiment
Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.
Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
- Not be able to draw a precise design of their house before building
- Not be able to build as precise using some materials
Child care providers may:
- Skip the drawing component and go straight to building
- Need to put some materials together to get them started (ie, tying sticks together with twine)
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
- Want to add additional items to the natural items they were building with
- Want to work together as a team
Child care providers may:
- Provide other materials to build with (cardboard, tubes, blocks)
- Do another round of designing and building, but this time encourage them to work together
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- The Hike by Alison Farrell
- Stick by Irene Dickson