Hands-On Learning: A Contructivist Approach

Building with nature and shapes:


While working at a summer camp as a counselor for three and four year olds I discovered that my campers liked to explore nature. After viewing the children’s fascination with collecting nature and using it to build homes for insects, I decided to implement an activity that allowed the children to build structures using nature as well as shapes. I provided my campers with 3D shapes and told them they could collect nature as well. The children initially began by building their own structures using just the 3D shapes, but gradually began to incorporate rocks, leaves, and sticks, and eventually they worked collectively to make one large structure. This activity allowed the children to develop their spatial skills as they mapped out this 3D structure, ensuring proper spacing between objects and using a stick as a bridge in order to connect objects. The activity also provided children with the opportunity to create larger structures out of individual shapes, similar to the way in which tangrams are used. This activity reflects learning expectation G3.4 in the FDK, which states that children are expected to “build three-dimensional structures using a variety of materials and begin to recognize the three-dimensional figures their structure contains” (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2011, p. 107).

Creating shapes with straws:

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During my second year placement at the Gerrard Resource Centre I implemented an activity in which children explored 2D shapes by gluing straws onto pieces of paper. At the time, the activity was create in a way that perhaps limited the children’s thinking, as they were told to create specific shapes. This activity could be extended, however, by allowing children to make their own 2D shapes, or even explore 1D shapes by creating lines with the straw. The children also had the opportunity to use crayons to explore the shapes they created. This activity reflects FDK  learning outcome G3.2, which says children are expected to “identify and describe, using common geometric terms, two-dimensional shapes (e.g., triangle) and three-dimensional figures (e.g., cone) through investigation with concrete materials” (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2011, p. 106).


Ontario Ministry of Education. (2011). The full-day early learning-kindergarten program. Toronto: Queen’s Printer. Retrieved from https://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/kindergarten_english_june3.pdf


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