Materials and tools

Focusing on construction materials and tools provides children with opportunities to concentrate on:

  • The challenge of working in three dimensions
  • Exploring the possibilities of the materials and experimenting in combining and re-combining them in as many ways as possible
  • Improving their understanding of structural strengths in construction

Experimenting with the properties of materials and discovering their suitability for particular tasks is an important part of construction, and there are opportunities here for integration with science. Material resources are a major consideration in planning a programme in construction. The variety and quality of the materials available will greatly influence the value of the construction activities. Open-ended exploration of a wide range of materials should be encouraged without any preconceived idea of a final product so that children can discover what the materials can do, what happens to them as structures are developed and how the materials themselves can sometimes dictate form.

Children should be encouraged to collect suitable scrap materials so that they can see what choices they have for different tasks and plan accordingly. Found materials provide opportunities for deepening understanding of the properties of a wide variety of materials, for solving problems of balance and for developing design ideas in three dimensions. In designing with discarded materials, children can also explore how combinations of materials can add textural and decorative interest.