Teach Me Tuesday: Engineering Edition

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As part of our Design and Build (Engineering) week, we thought we’d offer a few tips for you parents and caregivers to keep in mind while engaging with your child. As you will see, these intentional acts are also very intuitive for both parent and child, and you are probably already using these with your little one!

So, what is engineering? Generally speaking, engineering is the scientific process that creates a solution to an existing problem. Want to find any easier way to get to an island? An engineer would build a bridge or a tunnel. Looking for a really strong sheet of glass for a building? An engineer can help with that, too! What does engineering play look like for a young child? Playing with blocks, rolling cars down a ramp, pushing a train on a track, flying a kite or a paper airplane. . . the list goes on and on!

(photos from The Society of Women Engineers and National Association of Black Engineers)

We like to use the California Preschool Learning Foundations as a jumping off point when we approach early childhood learning. If you click the link above, you’ll see that the four pillars of this framework are mathematics, social-emotional development, language/literacy, and English language development. How can we apply each of these to engineering?

Social-emotional learning: Toddlers and preschoolers have a lot of FEELINGS! Use engineering play to work through self-regulation and recognizing emotions. “You worked really hard on your tower, I know it’s frustrating that it fell down. I’m sad too. Should we try again?” “I think your sister wants to share the Legos with you. Let’s think of something you can build together.”

Mathematics: Incorporate number sense. Beyond simply counting the number of blocks on the table, help your child make connections. “Let’s use one red block for every person in our family” or “Wow, I like how you stacked those from biggest to smallest!” Recognizing patterns is another way to learn about math through engineering and building.

Language/Literacy: We love creating a literacy connection by reading a story alongside a building activity. For toddlers, you can’t go wrong with classic stories like The Three Little Pigs or Billy Goats Gruff. For preschoolers and older children, we like “If I Built a House” and “Rosie Revere, Engineer.”

English language development: Engineering play is wonderful at building language skills. Model this yourself by talking through your actions. “I’m going to put two trains next to each other. Oh no, they won’t fit through the tunnel! I’m going to push them one at a time instead.” Use specific words like behind, across, next to, underneath, at an angle, etc to push those vocabulary skills even further.

We hope you find these tips useful and can approach engineering playtime with confidence! Remember that “Play is the work of childhood” and that there is nothing like the joy and closeness that develops when playing and working with your Little Engineer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank-You-Thursday: Our Amazing Supporters!

As the Children’s Museum at La Habra has tried to navigate this unprecedented time, there is one thing we are constantly reminded of: that our community has our back. We’ve gone from completely closed to open to slightly open to closed once again and there has never been a shortage of people asking, “what’s next?”.

Throughout this time, we’ve had people show up and show out for the Museum. We are grateful for every DM, every email, every Facebook comment, every call to the Museum. Each question and comment from our community is a light amidst darkness that reminds us of our mission: to provide valuable learning opportunities for the families in our community.

As many of you know, we have done several things throughout these few months to engage Museum-goers and learning enthusiasts alike. From free kits to Daily Play Passes for outside play, we are thankful to those who have continued to engage with us and ask, “what’s next?”

This is a thank you to all of you who have supported us throughout this time. We are grateful for your patience, your willingness to support your local Museum, and your enthusiasm in learning with your little one.

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We thank every family who has come to pick up a kit from us. The challenge to pivot our entire model of community engagement was a big one and we were met with love, kindness, and appreciation!

 

 

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We thank our members who showed up on our first day open, eager to play. With a totally new way of doing things, we were nervous to re-open. We were greeted with smiles (underneath masks, of course), questions, and kindness. What a day!

 

 

 

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We thank every family that has come to pick up our free kits! Our pride and joy is providing resources to all of our local families.

 

 

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Thank you to our Play Pass families who have made our hearts soar with the possibilities of what we can do in this new day and age!

 

 

 

We are constantly overwhelmed by the support we have gotten from Members, guests, and newcomers alike. Words cannot describe theĀ  gratitude in our hearts for each and every community member who has extended their time, energy, and resources into celebrating our Museum.

With love,
The Children’s Museum at La Habra