If You Build it…

Crowley is geeking over the Olympics. Carrying his Olympic torch around. Glued to TV. It’s cute. Unexpected. But cute.

When I am not beside myself with nerves for the athletes… and their mothers, I am marveling with pure wonder at how beautiful London looks and what a lovely Olympics this has been so far. Sneaking sand volleyball into one of the most formal locations on earth is a stunning move! Here’s a quote from the Wall Street Journal: “London’s beach-volleyball site might rank as this Olympics’ most-striking venue. The purpose-built, roughly-15,000-seat stadium sits on a gravelly lot that historically served as royal parade grounds. The Prime Minister’s official Downing Street residence is visible from the stands, and Buckingham Palace is also nearby.”  I found this cool time-elapse video of construction of the Olympic stadium!

Our Olympic lesson today? Construction and building. And this lesson tastes great, too… no matter your age.


1. Marshmallows of any shape, size or color

2. Toothpicks


Set them out on a tray and have your Olympian discover some of the first concepts of building like stability, weight-bearing and load distribution. This is one of those activities where you can hand over the supplies and sit back. I found that Crowley and his cousin barely said a word to me while they were building and trying to make their structures stand  on their own.

There is also a great new book out called Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site  by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. Told in rhyme, this is a sweet story of good nights that offers a parade of truck types and their jobs.

Speaking of construction sites, one of our favorite field trips is to find the biggest construction site in town and visit. I will never forget when Crowley, his beloved Cranky the Crane (of Thomas & Friends fame) and I claimed a local park bench to watch the big cranes work to build a hospital. C was so overwhelmed with awe that when he spotted  the foreman going over the day’s schedule, he shouted out, “ARE YOU WORKING ON A PLAN?”

They fell in love with him and before you know it, C was giving the commands over the walkie-talkie to move their 6-story crane. At one point the the crew moved the hooks of the crane over to show their biggest fan. And Crowley looked at them and asked, “Swing like a monkey?” And in an instant, there went the foreman, swinging on the hooks of that giant crane! I kid you not, I nearly cried because I knew this magical interaction meant the world to my little man. And with out a doubt, after that adventure, C understands how a crane works.


1) Marshmallow building is a tactile, sensory experience. Great exercise for fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, problem solving

2) The book helps with rhyming and building vocabulary and an understanding of how construction equipment works.

3) Visiting a real construction site brings it all together. This directly connects play to the real world we live in and makes every construction site there after… a sight to behold!

And the best part is… your little one, like mine, thinks he just had the best day of his entire life!