Toddler Homeschool: Construction Week(s)

Wow, I am a bit delayed in my posting, but better late than never, right? A few weeks ago, little man and I embarked on our Construction Week! J loved it so much, we extended it over the course of 2 weeks. Which reminds me - all of these themed weeks that we do can be extended to be themed months; I like the variety with J's age, which is why I've chosen to (mostly) switch up themes weekly. So if you want to try themed-learning activities with your little one, know you can set the duration to match your kiddo's (and your) needs!

Construction was so much fun for J and me! Being a boy mom, I have learned SO MUCH about trucks over the last couple years. It used to be that whenever I saw any kind of construction vehicle, I just called them all diggers or dump trucks, but I can now differentiate among probably 10 different construction vehicles. And before I never knew that there could be that many. The things you learn for your kids.

Here are some activities we did during the two weeks:

Up! Up! Up! Skyscraper, by Anastasia Suen
Wheels at Work: Construction, by Cocoretto Illustration
One Big Building: A Counting Book About Construction, by Michael Dahl
Construction Workers, a Seedlings publication
Mighty, Mighty Construction Site, by Sherri Duskey Renker
Old MacDonald Had a Truck, by Steve Goetz
Alphabet Under Construction, by Denise Fleming

Of these, J's top pick was Old MacDonald Had a Truck, which I must agree was a pretty fabulous and fun book to read and sing! Old MacDonald has various construction vehicles on his farm, such as an excavator, cement mixer, and motor grader (among others), and the farmer and his wife construct something fun on their farm throughout the story. Very fun.

A close second was Construction Workers, a non-fiction text with great pictures of different construction sites and individuals working. I will say that the "Table of Contents" was a bit misleading and probably could have been left out, but that's getting nit-picky as a teacher :)

Fine Motor Activities/Sensory:

  • Take-apart Jeep: For his birthday, J received a jeep that has many different screws and parts that come apart that can be screwed in with a battery-operated drill. It's a very fun toy that we were lucky enough to have access to during these two weeks (and forever, I suppose!) J learned how to set the drill directions (forward and reverse) and learned how to put different drill bits on, and how to determine which bits he needed for the different pieces. This was a really fun activity. 
  • Beans with construction vehicles: This is a fun sensory play activity. If you've checked out any of my other toddler homeschool posts, you'll notice that I use beans a lot. Well, they're inexpensive and can be used over and over and over again. Mom win. With this, I took an old cardboard box, taped up the sides so it wouldn't come apart (and let beans out), and poured in the black beans. J and I then played with the construction vehicles and scooped, dumped, moved - you name it - beans all around. The construction vehicles were something my mother-in-law had at her house that we borrowed; she had found them at a second-hand store, so not all of them were the same brand, but they were just fun to play with! This activity could also be done with sand, dirt, rocks, rice, or just about anything.

  • Construction Vehicles Shape Match: For this activity, I cut out (without a template) some squares, rectangles, semi-circles, and circles. I created two different construction vehicles with the shapes, and taped/glued them to paper. I then cut out the same shapes (using the same construction paper colors). My goal was for J to be able to "construct" vehicles that matched the two that I made. This activity was a bit advanced for him, so we modified (differentiation, anyone?) by having him place the matching shapes/colors onto the appropriate shapes on the vehicles that I had made. I think this activity would be suited well for 3-5 year-olds.

Literacy Activities:
  • Identification Activity: Not all literacy activities mean kids need a book in front of them. For this activity, I found labeled cards with construction vehicles (you can find them for FREE here on TeachersPayTeachers from Stephanie D) and tools on them and printed them. Then I showed them to J, pointed to the picture, and explained what each was. After a while, we placed them on the floor (I would do vehicles in one group first, then look at tools second) and I would ask J if he could find each vehicle/tool ("Where is the tape measure?"). If he didn't point to the correct one, I would point to the correct one and tell him the right name for it. We also played, where I would point to one and ask, "Do you know what this is?" He got very good and could correctly identify most by the end of the week.

Gross Motor Activities:
  • Tool Exploration and Matching: I am fortunate to have a handy hubby at home, and as a result we have a lot of tools. For this activity, I gathered all the tools that were on the tool picture cards (mentioned above), and put them all into a basket. I then put them on the floor in front of J and allowed him to explore. I didn't really say much; I just let him do the exploring and have fun. (Please note: I didn't give him anything potentially dangerous, like a saw or a real drill.) After a morning of exploration, I pulled out the tool picture cards, and asked J if he could match the actual tool with the picture. This is a great activity that allows kids to analyze pictures and to match.

J exploring the tool basket
Construction week was a blast! I saved the cards, and even though we have moved on to other themed-weeks, J still likes to get out the cards and talk about all the tools and vehicles he knows now! 

Please feel free to share your experiences with Construction Week, or something similar!