Featured image: St Clare’s Primary School. Scott Burrows Photographer (@scottburrowsphotographer) VIEW PROJECT
Importance of Constructive Play in Early Learning Environments
Our team of architects at Enrich Architecture designed the educational learning spaces at St. Clare’s Kindergarten. When construction was underway, we noticed the kindergarten children who were then occupying classrooms at St Clare’s Primary, were interested and curious about what was happening close by. As architects with a background in designing educational spaces, we are passionate about how the end-user, the students – will be able to learn and grow in these environments in a practical sense.
At this time, the teachers noticed the students’ curiosity towards the construction sites and took it as an opportunity to make it a unique learning experience for them. The students were encouraged to make observations, imagine what the spaces were for, and make their own predictions about what might happen next. They also used building blocks to recreate their drawings or “mini-construction plans.” Not only is this a fun activity for children, and a great way to get them involved in things happening around them, constructive play has many added developmental benefits for children.
What is constructive play?
Constructive play is an organised form of play that is goal-oriented and thoughtful. It allows children to engage with materials to create something, problem solve and learn about the attributes of different materials.
This type of play can range from simple things like counting bricks, measuring weights and moving objects. It is an engaging and different way to help young minds develop and think independently to make decisions based on what they’re learning. Activities like this help foster creativity, problem solving and fine motor skills, team-work skills, and hand-eye coordination. Giving children the opportunity to nurture creativity and be inquisitive in a learning environment is a necessity in education.
Children’s development when designing learning spaces
We consider constructive play in building design to ensure indoor and outdoor areas have a range of textures for sensory exploration and learning. From the dirt and bark chosen in the garden to the open plan classroom setting for moving around furniture and playing with building blocks and scales. These elements are all essential when designing spaces for young children as they add diversity and adventure to their play.
Independent problem-solving activities are a fun way for children to engage with the world around them and foster their early-learning development. We love hearing stories of what the teachers and educational leaders at centres like St Clare’s Kindergarten are doing for their students and being a part of the process. Who knows, after taking an interest in constructive play activities, maybe one day these children will be our next generation of architects!