teaching to learn, means learning to teach

Foam puzzle construction

I’m really sorry about this, but I can’t find the link that was the inspiration for today’s activity! One wonderful preschool teacher out there had chopped up bars of glycerine soap and used it as the building blocks for toothpick construction!Knowing that my kids would probably try to eat the soap, or rub it in their eyes or slip on it or all manner of other ‘exciting’ things, I decided to use my Eva floor mat/puzzles. These foam puzzles have had a life well lived. They’ve been puzzles, they’ve been floor mats, they’ve been stuck to the bathroom wall and rearranged multiple bath times over! They’ve been set on shelves for dolls to play with, chewed on, lost and stuck in cupboards. Now it’s time to move on.

So I started by getting the kids to pull out all the puzzle pieces, whilst I chopped in to the foam. I originally planned to cut it with a chefs knife, but quickly realised that the knife was just bouncing off its rubbery texture! It’s fairly easy to cut through. Just time-consuming.

The thing with scissors is that once they are out, everyone wants a turn! The foam proved to be a bit tricky to cut through for the kids, but small distances could be worked through!

Once we had an array of pieces I showed them how to push in the toothpicks, without holding the ends. It’s important to note that I purposely bought cheaper toothpicks, because I knew they’d be pointy at both ends. It did also mean that we had a few dodgy ones in our midst!

Assembly began as a fairly 2D affair.  Here you can see the back of our puzzle pieces, the numbers were there to help us sort and complete the puzzles as we packed up. now they just become part of the construction!

The projects soon gained 3D effects, as wings were added, stabilising pieces were put in to make them stand up and as we experimented with what we could do! Like any activity that has my daughter in it, something will eventually be made to be worn. First were the glasses, then she moved on to make Bunny Ears, which she used toothpicks to tuck into her head band for support!

I began creating a ‘thing’ out of the little pieces, and found myself thinking that it looked like a Christmas Tree. Not a whole lot, but just enough to start me off on a project to make one. But then Quinn stole my pieces and threw them like frisbees (or flying ninja stars – more likely these, as told by his maniacal laugh!). So you’ll just have to use your imagination when you look at my ‘inspiration’ piece!

After this was done, I had a whole new respect for the Dozers sugar-stick construction, in Fraggle Rock!


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