Thursday, September 4, 2014

Legos & Castles: Encouraging Creative Building

It's no secret that my husband is a chronic home remodeler.  He comes from a family of contractors, construction workers, painters, and building creators of all kinds.  He loves This Old House magazine and HGTV would be on in our house 24/7 if the kids didn't demand that we watch Frozen or Despicable Me every once in awhile.  He is always fixing something or thinking of a better way to design or build something.  Looking at the world in this creative problem-solving way is fascinating to watch, and I constantly find myself wondering what I can do to encourage this quality in our children (hopefully genetics will play some role, as well as the constant exposure).

Ankgor Wat, Cambodia
Like most children, my kids all love playing with legos.  Given their ages, we are still in the Duplo phase - which I appreciate since the pieces are big enough not to get lost everywhere and clean up isn't too difficult.  I invested in a couple baseplates to give them more a more sturdy foundation for their houses, garages, castles, and bridges.  I have also been steadily introducing them to various famous landmarks around the world - so far the Golden Gate Bridge (post specifically on bridges to come!) and the Sphinx have made the most lasting impressions - in the hopes that they will come to appreciate great architecture and perhaps find some inspiration for their own building.  I have shared various travel photos in front of famous landmarks also in the hope that this will inspire a love of travel.

And then I looked into some books about building just to give them some context for the creations they've been making.  A couple of the ones we explored include:

Alice has also recently become obsessed with castles.  Her initial inspiration was the Disney castle she first saw on-screen before one of her favorite movies, Wreck-It Ralph.  She then discovered that the same castle was on the cover of a book she received as part of a set last year for her birthday.  She carried one of the books from the set around with her everywhere on our recent trip to England and slept with it every night, referring to it as her "Castle Wreck-It Ralph book".  

So while I'm not eager for her to get too obsessed with princesses, I am perfectly fine with a castle obsession.  To promote this, I borrowed the following books for her:
  • Castle by David Macaulay (he has a whole series of super cool building books)
  • Castle by Christopher Gravett
We also stumbled upon a fun little castle for her to put together at The East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse - a fabulous store near us filled with all kinds of treasures for all kinds of projects.  Building materials are all around us - from mud and sticks for outdoor villages to sand for sandcastles to pillows and blankets for forts, and everything in between.  Between all this and my husband's encouragement, I hope to have all my kids working on constructing a personal private retreat for yours truly very soon!  


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