My favorite thing about working with young children is that their imaginations never cease to amaze me. I love to introduce random materials and challenge them to be as creative as possible. This is one of those activities that has saved me a million times – when they fly through all of my planned lessons, special events have to be rescheduled, or, like on Friday afternoon, when nap time was cut in half by an accidental fire drill. There was no way that they were all going to go back to sleep, so I needed to find a way to fill an hour, and I needed to do it fast, because they were cranky!
We have boxes of these tubes at school – one of our teachers has a relative who works for our local turnpike commission, these are the tubes that the toll tickets come on. We have a lot of random objects that have been donated…
I pulled out two boxes of these tubes and literally dumped them on the floor, that was all my kiddos needed. They built towers, castles, and tunnels for nearly 45 minutes (which is a REALLY long time in the world of preschool). They also slid the tubes onto their arms and pretended that they had huge muscles. A couple of them found marbles to roll through their tunnels, while others attempted to stand on the tubes.
This kind of activity not only encourages creative thinking, but also problem solving, persistence, spatial reasoning, and social skills. Some of the other items that I have used for impromptu building sessions include empty food containers, plastic straws, pieces of scrap paper, plastic cups, twigs and small tree limbs, stones, empty play dough containers, baskets, and pipe cleaners.