Providing young children with STEAM-related, educational and entertaining hands-on activities that rely on their imagination, creativity, and curiosity are one of the best ways to stimulate their interest in architecture, the built environment, art, and help them understand cause-and-effect relationships. That’s the premise behind MAF’s Build Imagination architectural toy kits.
The kits, which will be available at 15 public libraries throughout Michigan, were developed by MAF’s Rae Dumke Development Fund, in partnership with Birmingham’s Baldwin Public Library. Each Build Imagination toy kit (grouped for students in grades 1-3, and grades 4-6) is designed so that children can complete an activity with the toys in the kit in one hour.
Marquette’s Peter White Public Library (PWPL) received one of the Build Imagination kits this past summer. As the library re-opened for in-library programming and activities, children began to use the kit toys in the library’s maker space. “The response to the toys has been very positive,” said Sarah Rehborg, Peter White Library Youth Services Librarian. “It has been fulfilling to see the children interacting with and excited by the toys.”
Educational toys in the Build Imagination Kits include wooden Keva Planks, Roylco Straws and Connectors, Blocks and Blueprints sets, K’NEX 100 Model Imagine Building Sets, and CMS Magnetics Building Sets.
The kit components can be used to construct structures, mazes, bridges, towers, ramps, and to create a Rube Goldberg Machine (for chain-reaction based activities) – or as the foundation for countless other architecture-related activities based on children’s imaginations.
“The straws and the Kiva planks have been very popular,” said Sarah. “Our goal with the kits, and the other activities in our maker space, is to create passive programming that encourages kids to engage in self-directed activities,” said Sarah. “With their imagination and creativity to guide them, children gain confidence and feel safe in their ability to learn in their own way.”
PWPL’s maker space also contains other hands-on activities, including a chalk pillar that kids can draw on, art supplies, and large plastic screws that engage toddlers both physically and mentally. The library also offers other architecture-related, STEAM-based programming, including a Lego (building blocks) club, and a preschool STEM program. “Prior to opening our maker space, we did a summer program themed on reuse, where children used cardboard to construct bridges, houses, castles, towers, and mazes,” said Sarah. “Kids also used popsicle sticks and marshmallows to make bridges, which was a popular activity, since they were able to eat the marshmallows once they completed their project.”
Sarah continues, “Many kids that don’t love books will come to the library for activities like this,” said Sarah. “Our hope is that once they are here, kids will check out a book or two as well.”
“Libraries don’t always have funding available to purchase great educational resources like these. We are grateful to the Michigan Architectural Foundation for gifting PWPL with the Build Imagination kit.”
For more information on PWPL, visit https://pwpl.info/