This afternoon, the twins (almost 4 years old) and I built a wooden 'model' firetruck. Although the label said that the set was for ages 8+, my preschoolers did an excellent job (with some help, of course), and it was a neat project to work on together. Little did my kids realize that this was a learning activity requiring math, spatial reasoning, and problem solving skills...
Although the box claimed that this firetruck would be easy to assemble, the diagrams in the instructions were on the tricky side. It was a fun challenge to have the girls help me find the pieces needed in each step and figure out where they go based on the visual clues in the diagram.
There were 23 wooden pieces, and 38 screws (with 2 different sizes that the kids helped me sort). Some of the pieces had only subtle differences that we could use to tell them apart (i.e. number of holes, curved vs straight edge, etc..).
Each step involved finding the correct wooden pieces, determining their orientation, and calculating the number of screws needed. Then I started the screws (which fit into pilot-drilled holes) and let the girls try their hand at using the screwdriver before I tightened each screw. I was amazed at how well my kids took turns and the patience they had with the fairly complicated task at hand.
When it was time to paint the model, the girls were on their own and did a fantastic job. They were beaming with pride at their accomplishment and couldn't wait for the paint to dry so they could play with the new toy they had made. The girls thought it was a big deal that this toy was not made in a factory! (We've been talking a lot about factories lately)
What a sense of accomplishment! We'll definitely be doing more of these types of projects in the future..
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