Tag Archives: demolition

Creative construction

The unschooling diaries: week seven

The fascination with all things construction (and demolition) that last week led us to the library has directed lots of Arthur’s play over the past few days. He has gathered his motley collection of construction vehicles with the kinetic sand in the tuff spot, brrrrming them round his little building site which I sense still has further to evolve.


Whenever we’ve been out and about he’s been drawn to diggers and steam rollers and cranes. There seem to be plenty around – way more than I’ve ever noticed before. But maybe that’s just because I wasn’t looking properly.

Back at home, he has taken tremendous delight in directing me to build increasingly complex creations using duplo and his train track only to smash them to smithereens, scattering pieces across the lounge and declaring an emergency as he brings in the nee naws to sort it all out. I’ve had to resist the primal urge in me to get irritated at this wave of destruction – I know it’s important that he explores how things break as well as how they come together.


His impulse to understand how things work has been focused on the vehicles themselves. We’ve found a great selection of YouTube videos that he watches with studied concentration as they break down the complex operation of an excavator, for example, into language that a preschooler can understand. The vocabulary is precise and the mechanics stretches even my understanding.


The most fascinating aspect of this play for me, though, has been how he has taken it into his whole body – a kinaesthetic exploration of the engineering concepts underlying the things he observes. He stretches his arm out like a crane, his movements slow and robotic as he fashions his hand into a scoop, all the time replicating the mechanical noises he has heard with his voice. He loves it if I join in too, both of us together forming a human construction site.


If I were taking the lead on his learning, I’m not sure I ever would have thought to take this topic in all these different directions. Even with my background in physical theatre I don’t think I’ve ever stood and worked out how to move my body like a crane. He is literally consumed by learning – and the power of that is more than a little awesome to behold.