Asking Young Children to Plan

Looking at a backhoe and describing the parts a digger should have
I've written before about how we use plans here at Sabot. Most often a plan is a drawing of something you want to make. Sometimes if drawing is hard or very unappealing, children may describe their plan with words or motion, or dictate it and I will draw it.

I ask children to follow three steps:
Think of an idea
Make a plan
Then gather materials

Research- choosing the kind of train to make
This works very well here. For one thing, it causes a little pause- sometimes just long enough for someone to formulate an image in their mind. This image will serve them well when it comes time to make the thing.
Even if the mental image has to be revised A LOT, having one will make the experience much easier.

Also, planning helps children choose materials very deliberately. We all should have grown up with a sense of stewardship for the Earth, but it seems especially important for children nowadays.

As for messing about, it still happens. A lot of the time the serious messing about with materials happens within the classrooms, so that by the time a child comes to the studio, they already have a purpose. Maybe they want to make a train or a fox costume, or maybe they want to figure out, once and for all, how the buckets on a backhoe operate. Follow my three simple steps, and                     those hydraulics will be working in NO TIME!

The plan and the train