Boxitechs is a wonderful book that my PreK students love, and this engineering activity for preschool is the perfect way to build STEM skills after reading the book. Often when I speak to preschool teachers about STEM, they know how to do science, tech, and math activities but look at me puzzled when I ask them how they incorporate engineering into their classrooms. I always respond by saying that I bet they already have a ton of engineering in their classrooms. My very favorite definition of engineering is “The action of working artfully to bring something about.” yes, that’s simplified but isn’t everything we do in ECE about refining the complex into the foundation? This is the foundation of engineering. It’s about creating and designing structures and machines. This Engineering activity for preschool is an excellent example of just that! Here are some other simple preschool engineering activities:
- Lego challenges
- Making Wind resistant towers
- This Not A Box Activity
- Building railroads with train toys
- Building with blocks
- Creating Cities and rock towers on the light table
- Making Skyscrapers with popsicle sticks
- Cork Towers
- Foam and Shaving Cream Towers
- Creating cars with Automoblox ( my students LOVE it when I bring these out)
- Rock Towers Outside
Boxitechs Engineering Activity For Preschool
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Boxitechs by Kim Smith is a great book about building with cardboard boxes and a great story about how to work as a team, especially when we don’t want to. It is on the longer side for a read-aloud for preschool, but my PreK class engages with it from cover to cover. Spoiler… I love that the main characters do NOT win the competition. My students and I always discuss why and how they deal with this disappointment. For a book about engineering, it has a huge focus on social-emotional skills.
Gather your materials. You can use whatever you have on hand and of course, a cardboard box for each child. I had stickers, paint, crayons, paper, felt, foam, glue, and scissors for my 4 and 5-year-olds. I went to school the night before class and carefully cut all the boxes, and made sure there weren’t any very sharp edges.
The Activity for Boxitechs
After reading the book, if you have a whiteboard, use it to model the design process. Using prompts like ” What would you turn your box into?” For my students, I decided to have more defined parameters for this activity because that is what THEY needed. In other classes, I could have just let them go without a specific goal. Do what works for your specific class, not just what you’ve always done. For this group, after this initial brainstorm, I brought out a stuffed animal ( small dog) and explained that today we’d be making houses for him. Then again, we decided on all the options for a dog house design with a box. After everyone had a chance to contribute to the design process, we went to our tables where the supplies were waiting.
Time to engineer something amazing!
They went to town with paint, foam, felt, paper, glue, and crayons. I purposefully made it, so they had to share supplies and materials. While I would have loved to have them do a collaborative project, I knew it wasn’t the right choice for this group at this time, but still wanted an element of sharing and taking turns in the activity.
I loved seeing their ideas come to life!
Mess is ALWAYS encouraged! Creativity is messy so embrace it.
I loved that so many of our materials had different textures too.
Look how happy Buster is in his home!
The next class after all the paint had time to dry we brought out our box of stuffed animals and gave the children a chance to play with the homes they created before sending them home.
More STEM resources and ideas for preschool
This is a great free-choice activity for children of all ages. The cookie sheet helps to keep it from being an overwhelming experience for little ones. In my PreK class, my students used cookie sheets to make multiple layers and floors for their buildings. It was awesome!
Check out these great lego activities. You don’t need many materials to create rich and engaging engineering activities for your students. These simple engineering activities use nothing more than lego bricks.
Yes – it is still a big deal to promote STEM to young girls. The data still shows a huge drop off of interest in STEM programs in high school and university, and even more so with careers. These books help to demystify girls and STEM for all children.