Build a Dragon Castle Construction Play – Maybe a dragon will move in?

Dragons don’t live in regular houses so for a play-of-the-day, kids can get out the blocks or Lego and build a dragon castle for some construction play.

build a dragon castle

This activity has been inspired by the children’s book, When A Dragon Moves In, written by Jodi Moore and illustrated by Howard McWilliam. According to the little boy telling the story, “If you build a perfect sand castle, a dragon will move in.” The boy builds a marvelous castle and the dragon does come. Unfortunately, the dragon is invisible to everyone else in the family. When a number of not-so-good things happen, the boy gets in trouble. He finally has to ask the dragon to move out and learn some manners. But the next day…

Of course, this isn’t exactly the season for going to a beach and building a sand castle. Instead of sand, how about building a castle with blocks of some sort? The blocks could be wooden, cardboard ones, foam, plastic, or even sponge. Duplo and Lego are great for making castles too. Maybe a dragon will still move in.

construction imaginative play

When we watch kids, construction play is already pretty active on the outside. Kids are stacking blocks on top of each other, setting them in rows, and arranging them in just the right way. Usually this happens on the floor and kids are moving up, down, and around. They are reaching, balancing, carrying, stretching and more as they play. With small blocks like Lego, the muscles in the fingers, hands, and wrists are making countless small movements.

On the inside, kids are very busy too. Brains are active with many different thinking skills. One of these is obviously problem-solving. Sometimes a block won’t balance on another one. Kids have to figure out not just why but how to fix the problem. Some won’t fit in a space. The block might be too big, too small, or the wrong shape. Kids are also linking cause and effect. Often kids build a tower of blocks only to push it over. They need to test if it will always happen and if it happens in the same way each time. Decision-making and planning are other brain strategies happening.

construction play

Of course, kids are also imagining and creating. This might be a castle for a dragon or for a different creature. Inside the castle there might be a treasure. Is the dragon guarding it or trying to steal it? During play, kids will be creating a castle as well as imagining the story that goes with it. Build a dragon castle construction play also builds brain skills.

Sometimes, when children build with blocks, they are no sooner done than they knock it over. To them, deconstruction is part of the process. The product hasn’t been as important as the building. Other times, families may have to walk around whatever it is for days or risk dragon-sized tears if we happen to topple what they’ve made.

Whatever happens to the castle after play, the best part of it is the blocks can be used to build a dragon castle again another day. And it doesn’t have to be perfect!

Play #7: Does Children’s Play Influence Career Choices?

It’s an interesting question: Does children’s play influence career choices? Or, do interests already present in childhood influence how kids play? Like the chicken or the egg, which comes first?

ways children play-lego

In this series of posts on ways children play, several parents are contributing descriptions of how their child plays. One preschool boy is really into pirates, another loves playing in his kitchen. Jumping on a trampoline both inside and outside is a favorite way to play for another child, and one 2-year old girl is beginning to pretend play, either as the baby or the mommy.

A dad sent in this look at how his son plays, “K usually likes to play by himself. He loves Lego and anything related to cars or monster trucks. Occasionally, he will play with pillows, kitchen tools or make stuff out of the recycle bin.”

K’s dad isn’t an architect, but he does have lots of building projects, like furniture, home renovations, and play structures in the backyard. It’s no surprise that K likes “making stuff” too.

Many kids all over the world, girls as well as boys, love to play with Lego. According to an article on the Lego site, “99% of architects played with LEGO bricks.” (More Than Child’s Play: Favorite Toys Can Provide Clues to Future Career Choice)

Jeremy Pelletier is an architect and he didn’t just play with Lego as a child, he still plays with it now. On a recent television interview, he confessed that the estimate of a quarter million bricks is low. There could be double that now. He says that Lego was one of his favorite toys and “probably, one of the reasons that I’m an architect today.” He hopes that his kids will also love Lego, but he’ll be okay if they don’t.

Building and construction toys encourage both logical thinking and creativity. Although some kids will play with blocks and Lego more than others, they are great toys for all kids. How they play may give some clues to answer the question: does children’s play influence career choices? Does your child play with building and construction toys?

March into Fun with Books, Stories, and Activities #12

Cinderella Inspires a Play-of-the-Day

Cinderella is another fun fairy tale that can inspire play activities, not just for girls but boys also. Glass slippers and fairy godmothers are not required.

Cinderella's pumpkin coachCinderella is not much liked by her step-mother and step-sisters and has to do all the work. When the prince invites everyone to a ball, her mother and step-sisters go but Cinderella is stuck at home, crying with disappointment and wishing she could go too.

A fairy godmother appears and turns a pumpkin into a carriage complete with horses and a coachman. Her plain clothes and shoes become a beautiful gown and glass slippers. Cinderella goes to the ball and while she leaves the ball at midnight, as required, she loses one of her slippers. The prince finds it and uses it until he finds Cinderella.

Nowadays we don’t have carriages pulled by horses. After reading or telling this story, you can ask your child, “How would Cinderella get the ball if this happened today? Together, you can think of all the ways we have to travel, such as bus, taxi, ferry, ship, car, truck van, submarine, train, airplane, or rocket ship. After naming some real ones, how about some imaginary ones like a flying saucer or batmobile?

playing with boxesWith blocks, lego, or other construction toys, kids can build some different ways for Cinderella to get around. Kids may also want to use toys or things around the house to make their own bus or car or train or other transportation. Stuffies can go along for the ride. A big box turned on it’s side can be imagined into anything and decorated with crayons or paints for more fun. Where else could it go besides the ball?

The story of Cinderella can inspire some construction, art, and pretend play. Both boys and girls can do any of these. You can pretend to be the fairy godparent and ask your child where he or she would like to go. Maybe your family has a dream of going someplace together?

Part Five: To a Child, Love is Spelled T I M E

Spending Time in Construction Play with Kids We do not need to be architects or planners to play with blocks, Lego, trains, and construction toys with kids. The time we spend with children is what builds. Sometimes, toys themselves are optional; kids will play with rocks, sandwich containers, left-over wood bits, empty boxes, and any … Continue reading Part Five: To a Child, Love is Spelled T I M E