The children worked with Miss Sue to plan and design their castles. They generated ideas of what tools and materials we'd need, and what parts of the castle we could include in our designs. It was exciting to hear their use of specialized vocabulary (moat, catapult, battlements, drawbridge, gatehouse, etc.), and to pick up on their excitement about this project.
I noticed that many of the girls were not as excited and engaged in our plans. I addressed this during a large-group circle time by bringing up other kinds of castles, namely fairy castles! Suddenly, I noticed the girls sitting up a little straighter and tuning in more carefully! I used a cone-shaped Culligan cup to show them how to create a turret if they chose to add towers to their castles, using purple paper. Then the questions started flowing! "Can we decorate our castles? Can we use glitter? Can we draw flowers on them?"
Of course, I said yes!
We spent two afternoons with the children drawing their cut-lines with permanent marker on cardboard boxes, and us cutting with serrated knives. We followed the children's directions unless there was an obvious problem (e.g. if the door would cut right up through the top).
I involved the children in the mixing of paint colours. They were so engaged with this project that I barely had to supervise their use of the paint. We covered the tables in plastic and they worked for two days on painting their castles. We discussed painting a secondary coat to create a stone pattern, but they were so eager to play that they didn't want to.
For a few days now, these handmade castles have been the most popular play things in our room.
The children are so proud of their creations and take such care to make sure they're put away carefully. It's got me thinking about other play things we can create!