This blog post was contributed by Marie Faust Evitt, author of Thinking BIG, Learning BIG

Children want to do BIG things because it makes them feel powerful and not so small. They love ENORMOUS numbers like a hundred million billion and BIG words like Tyrannosaurus rex. They love to spread their arms wide and run as fast as they can across a HUGE field.

Here’s how you can use children’s love of BIG things to create a strong foundation for higher-level thinking and learning.

#1

Start with the familiar and E-X-P-A-N-D

You know children love building with blocks. Introduce Styrofoam egg cartons to build a giant skyscraper. Ask what they need to do to make their building stable. Try using BIG cardboard boxes to create a whole neighborhood.

#2

Make a GIANT model

 Spiders and webs can be scary for children but when they create their own web from string and tape, and a BIG spider from paper bags and pipe cleaners, they are in control. They learn how spiders spin two kinds of silk, one that’s not sticky for the frame and another that is sticky to catch prey.

 #3

Make learning a game

Children experience freezing and melting by using ice cubes they’ve made to play a simple game of ice cube hockey.

 #4

Explore their questions

When we take children’s questions seriously they feel empowered and engaged. “Why do I have to wear a rain jacket when it’s raining?” can become an engaging exploration of what’s waterproof.

#5

Include art

Art provides a wealth of opportunity for creative investigations. What happens when you send a toy car dipped in paint down a ramp?

 #6

Spark imagination

What kind of inventions might children create with milk carton caps, shoe boxes, colored masking tape, paper towel tubes and parts of discarded appliances?

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To see directions for these and many other BIG explorations check out Thinking BIG, Learning Big: Connecting Science, Math, Literacy and Language in Early Childhood.

This post was contributed by Marie Faust Evitt, head teacher of a preschool class for four- and five-year-olds. Prior to teaching, Marie was an award-winning newspaper reporter and freelance journalist for more than 20 years. Her articles and essays on education, parenting, and child psychology have been published in Newsweek, Parents, Child, Parenting, Scholastic’s Parent & Child, Scholastic.com, and Family Fun. She posts about her classroom activities at www.thinkingBIGlearningBIG.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thinkingBIGlearningBIG.