Thingamabobbin Suggestions for Use

To understand children’s learning with open-ended materials, it is often useful to step back and observe their spontaneous play and problem solving. Children use blocks in a variety of ways:

  • To create designs – arrangements with no particular function.
  • To build functional structures – things that move, shelters, and enclosures.
  • To build representations of real objects – sailboats, animals, and people.
  • To rearrange patterns – recombining a given set of blocks into different arrangements.
  • To act out narratives – using the blocks to tell a story.
  • To encounter and solve problems

Children will almost always start building on their own and may often build for long periods of time with great concentration. We have included some suggestions for use to further stimulate their ideas. However, we encourage parents and teachers to let children take the lead.

+ Language Development

  • Try turning the bobbins upside down so only the wood side shows.
  • Can you guess what color is on the other side? Keep doing it until all the colors are right side up.
  • Can you tell me what you made with the bobbins? Where does the “Robot” live? What does she eat? What are her favorite clothes? How does she travel to school? Does she need a motor to walk?
  • Tell me about the red square on your boat. What happens if you push the red square? The green square? What would happen if you took that part off your machine?

+ Mathematical Thinking

  • Can you make a building as tall as this table?
  • How far do you think your car will roll? Will it reach the door?
  • What shapes can you find on the base of the Thingamabobbin?

+ Physical Knowledge

  • How can you make the wheels roll on your car?
  • How can you make one bobbin turn the other bobbins?
  • What will happen if you put a dowel in the middle of the rubber band and then turn the bobbin?
  • How can we make the four bobbins stay up in the air without putting a dowel in the hole?

+ Aesthetic Ideas

  • I see that you lined up all the reds and blues on one side and the greens and yellows on the other side. Do you like the way it looks?
  • Can you find a picture of a car that you like as much as your Thingamabobbin car? Why do you like the car in the picture?

+ Imaginative Play

  • I made a car that goes on land and on the water. I have to close the windows when it goes on the lake.
  • I made a robot with a red head and green feet. The feet go clop, clop, clop.
  • This is a machine that makes the big logs move to the big truck and then they roll onto another machine that cuts the logs.

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