When I first started working at Mairtown kindergarten I quite often heard responses like, “That’s the nature kindergarten, how do you manage without plastic resources?” Sure Mairtown implements a nature based programme and utilises natural resources, however, construction is a huge focus with plastic construction resources including Lego and Duplo frequently used as well.
Within our curriculum, construction resources such as Lego and Duplo are important because they provide unmatched learning opportunities; which is why they are used. Children are free to use their imagination and creativity to plan and direct their own play, problem solve, build self-confidence, focus on a task from conception through to completion, mathematical thinking, develop fine motor skills, enhance social skills and work cooperatively with their peers on a specific task.
Dr Grob-Zakhary explains the benefits of Lego for children’s learning and development; “It stimulates children’s learning abilities by fostering creativity, building critical thinking, sparking intellectual curiosity, and facilitating learning by doing. Learning by doing deepens our engagement and understanding significantly and strengthens the most important pathways our brains use to learn and develop”. Dr Randa Grob-Zakhary (2014).
I have noticed when children are immersed in their play with plastic construction it helps to develop their creativity and imagination as it is such an open-ended activity they are able to build on their ideas and develop something new every time or extend upon their last creation.
Wyatt said “This aeroplane-car can go on sand, and it can fly and it can even go flying super-fast, flying side to side”.
Research explains the importance of creativity by stating “Creativity focuses on the process of forming original ideas through exploration and discovery. In children, creativity develops from their experiences with the process, rather than concern for the finished product. Creativity is not to be confused with talent, skill, or intelligence. Creativity is not doing something better than others, it is about thinking, exploring, discovering, and imagining”. Mary Ann Kohl (2007).
Recently I noticed Kito was constructing a bridge with Duplo, here are some of his words as he was solving his problem, “It needs more lift off, I know it needs to go higher”. Kito started to experiment with different size pieces of Duplo to lift the train track off the ground to build a bridge “I’m thinking, I know, I will put blocks under here and each time I will add another one so it goes higher for more lift off. It’s time to test.”
At Mairtown our focus is on authentic and meaningful learning opportunities. We will continue to encourage our children in a wide array of learning opportunities both within the natural environment and through the use of man-made plastic resources.