Little Builders

Grab a tool belt and join in playful learning about the science of construction. Children become master builders, scientists, and architects as they create, play, and learn during this interactive expedition. Students explore concepts related to building, aerodynamics, and simple machines at the Construction Site, Tool Wall, and other hands-on building stations in the Little Builders exhibit.

Lesson extensions for before or after your visit

The following activities are designed for your class to enjoy before or after your museum visit. Familiarizing students with the lesson concepts can enrich their museum experience.

Construction character study

Group reading activities using books related to building and construction can introduce nonfiction in a way that is playful and meaningful to preschool and primary students. After reading aloud Building a House by Byron Barton or How a House Is Built by Gail Gibbons, have students take on the role of one of the construction workers in the book. Reread the book, encouraging students to stand and act out the role of their worker (architect, surveyor, equipment operators, carpenters, and so forth) in the story. You can extend the experience by having children create name tags for their characters to wear in order to introduce construction vocabulary.  

Box collage

As children construct with boxes, they work with the same principles that architectural engineers deal with: size, shape, weight, stability, gravity, and balance. They use skills of observation, prediction, comparison, experimentation, and communication. Allow students to put these principles into action by creating a box collage.


  • small cardboard boxes and containers such as cereal boxes, cracker boxes, toothpaste boxes, toilet paper tubes, and more
  • a large, flat piece of cardboard
  • glue
  • brushes to spread glue

Start with an open-ended question such as “What could you make with these materials?” Be prepared for a variety of responses. Ask students to use the materials provided to build the structures or objects named in answer to your question. Encourage student creativity without expecting realistic representations of structures or objects. Engage in discussion by asking open-ended questions.

Suggested reading

Machines at Work, illustrated by Byron Barton 

Rookie Read-About Science: Simple Machines by Allan Fowler

How a House Is Built by Gail Gibbons

The Toolbox, illustrated by Ann and Harlow Rockwell