Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Budding Engineers


Tuesday 05 March 2019

It’s Monday again, and as usual the weekend has flown. As you wait for the children to arrive you do a quick visual check around the room. The table in the home corner is set invitingly for four, complete with tablecloth, a small vase of flowers and empty plates. As you wonder what exotic dishes might be created there today, you add the empty shopping bags, the post-it and pencils and an old set of car keys to the area. The addition of these props is based on your observations of play the previous week when you noticed a lot of imaginary trips to the shops. These simple additions are provocations which will support richer play and feed the imagination of the children who choose to play there this morning.

You may already have an inkling who will respond to these provocations; which children will choose to play there or perhaps the children will surprise you again! It may begin with one child who is always drawn to the home corner or perhaps the new props will spark an interest in children who don’t normally play there. Either way there will be at least one child who will make a bee-line there - but it’s no fun on your own. So, whether someone chooses to join that child or whether other children are invited or even persuaded to join in the game, it won’t be long before a number of children gather there. This is when rich communication and important negotiations begin - identifying the play script, brainstorming who gets to be who (Mum, Dad, big sister, brother or indeed the baby). Some tough decision-making may ensue as children make a case for their preferred roles and the props they absolutely must have. Once solutions have been agreed, the children can then begin to test them out as they immerse themselves in their roles. Then, as play develops and the imagination flows, the new props are discovered, or as new players join the group, the original agreed solution may well shift and alter, necessitating more communication, discussion and agreement as shared understanding produces a new solution directing the play script to everyone’s satisfaction.

The sociodramatic play described above is typical of play in many early learning and care settings around the country. The process described is also the very same process used in engineering design - have a look at the drawing here:

We may typically associate engineering with the construction corner or with other more obvious materials in the playroom. Moreover, we know play affords children the opportunity to act out what they know. Children come into our settings with rich knowledge of family roles, mealtimes, caring for babies and shopping (amongst other things). Then, because of diverse family structures, values and beliefs, sociodramatic play offers children the opportunity to get to know about the other. Other ways of being and doing, like for instance that bolognese sauce can be made with fresh ingredients as well as buying it in a jar.

It is wonderful to be reminded of the invaluable contribution you make to children’s learning and development simply by giving them time, space and materials to just play “mammies and daddies” - while at the same time nurturing skills and dispositions necessary for life in the 21st century.



Lilian originally begin working in childcare as a homebased sessional playgroup practitioner before joining Early Childhood Ireland’s predecessor as a quality officer in 2001. She has a degree in Early Years Education and Care, is qualified in adult and further education and is also a Marte Meo colleague trainer. Lilian is passionate about young children’s right to rich play experiences and nurturing relationships.


If you would like to learn more about how children explore engineering concepts through play, please read our Builders of the Future blog post from last year. 


Engineers Week brings the fascinating world of engineering to life in communities nationwide, inspiring children and adults to engineer the Ireland of tomorrow. Engineers Week is co coordinated by Engineers Ireland and proudly supported by SFI and Industry leaders ESB, TII, Intel and ARUP.
0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Study Trip(1) Glitter(2) Reggio(1) pets(1) IGL(1) reading(5) Seas Suas(1) Intention(1) Mount Everest(1) Jenga(1) Family wall(1) Exit interview(1) Favouritism(1) Recycle(1) Obesity(1) Confidence(1) Snack Time(1) Santa(2) Wonder(1) Routines(1) emotions(2) Valerie Gaynor(1) Adoption(1) Self Help Skills(1) Employee(1) Settling in(4) INTO(1) Human Resources(1) Appreciation(1) Communicating(1) Mealtimes(1) Music(3) Frosty the Snowman(1) overhear(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Wilenski(1) Traditions(2) science week(2) Awards(2) Childhood(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) EECERA 2016(1) Arlene Forster(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Interaction(1) educating(1) Sleep(1) Interests(1) New Appointments(1) Gratitude(1) Meal time(1) Autism(3) Challenges(1) Self-Esteem(1) Scéalta Blog(89) Winter(1) Orla Kenny(1) National Pyjama Day(1) E.coli(1) Elders(1) Mental Health(3) under 3's(3) stories(2) science(3) Belonging(3) Easter(1) Japan(1) Role play(1) National Awards 2019(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) AsIAm(1) grandchild(1) Death(2) research(6) Whole Group(1) Maynooth(1) Yoga(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Graduation(1) planning(1) Margy Whalley(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) NCCA(3) Educator of the Year Award(3) Art(6) European Project(1) Mindfulness(2) Motor neuron disease(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Pen green(1) outdoor play(6) play(31) early years research(1) Afghanistan(1) Prexit(1) Mathematicians(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) journey(1) Wesco(1) Syria(1) Educators(1) Policy(2) Budget 2018(1) Self-regulation(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Masterclass(2) College(1) Design(1) Patterns(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Frustrations(1) Budget 2019(2) Learning Stories(8) Sociodramatic play(1) Trick or treat(1) Giraffe(2) Laughter(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Advocacy(1) life long learning(1) Participation(1) Arithmetic(1) Meet the Members(1) Positivity(1) Love(2) Anxiety(2) Craft(1) Horizon 2020(1) Identity(5) First 5(1) conversations(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(1) Weather(1) Infection Control(1) Qualifications(1) child-centred approach(1) Grief(1) Awards 2018(3) Mayo(1) Biting(1) Summer(1) refugees(1) Identity and Belonging(4) Siolta blog(2) Leprechauns(1) Eritrea(1) RIE philosphy(1) value(1) Maths Week(1) TOY Programme(1) listen(1) Relaxation(1) Window(1) Leadership(1) Leargas(1) The Jelly King(1) learning(16) listening(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Buddies(1) Flowers(1) CPD(1) Social Skills(1) dining experiences(1) ECEC(1) Story(1) Albert Einstein(1) Workforce(1) Child mental health(1) Facebook(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) outdoors(3) Performing(1) Children's Voice(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) San Miniato(4) Titles(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Sweets(1) Early Years(1) Xbox(1) Trade Unions(1) Universal Design(2) Maths(4) Inter-generational(2) Exploring(1) christmas(8) ReCreate(2) Creative(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Professionalisation(4) Plants(1) Fabric(1) Aistear(110) risk(2) Body Language(1) MA(1) parents(5) Maria Montessori(1) Care-giving routines(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Nonverbal(1) Gardening(1) Halloween(2) Behaviour(3) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Laugh(1) Celebrate(1) eating(1) budget(1) Affordability(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Infectious diseases(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Inspirational(2) Running(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) feisty(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Socioemotional development(1) AIM(2) Shoes(1) Support(1) Workplace Relations(3) Primary School(2) Photographs(1) Kids Own(1) Children and families(1) Games(1) Sport(1) memories(1) Shapes(1) Community involvement(1) Magnavacchi(1) Children(1) Scents(1) Exercise(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Research Seminar(1) Kilkenny(1) Creativity(4) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) linc(1) Book Club(2) Mantra(1) Mud kitchens(1) Time(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Nutrition(1) Inter-generational learning(2) Children's Rights(2) Academics(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Light table(1) Snakes(1) Visitors(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) PIP(1) Performance Management(1) Upcycling(1) environments(1) routine(2) Certificate(1) Event Guide(1) Snacks(1) Breathing(2) Graduate(1) social media(1) Awards 2019(1) Investment(2) Iraq(1) EM Standing(1) MECPI(1) dogs(1) Change(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Our Little Seed(1) ears(1) Oireachtas(1) mushrooms(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(1) Communications(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Blocks(1) Health(2) baby room(1) RTE Investigates(1) Competent(1) STEM(2) Kerry(1) Sustainable(1) Care routines(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Home Corner(1) Budget 2020(1) Traffic Lights(1) story time(1) Mo Scéal(1) Recycling(2) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Hand Hygiene(1) Treasure Chest(1) purpose(1) play stories(1) Thanks(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Limerick(1) Exclusion(1) trust(3) UNCRC(1) communication(4) Decisions(1) community(5) Storytelling(2) Party(1) Online(1) DCYA(4) preschool(2) Rituals(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Growing up Outdoors(1) Empathy(1) Malaguzzi(1) Map(1) First 5 strategy(1) Staff Motivation(1) Learning journals(1) Wendy Lee(2) Well-Being(9) San Minia(1) Magda Gerber(1) Montessori(3) Bereavement(2) blog(28) Engineering Ireland(1) collaboration(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Arts(1) bonds(1) Cognitive development(1) maternity health(1) Decision Making(1) education(2) Mark Twain(1) ECCE(6) Queues(1) Interactions(2) Loss(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Norway(2) Sustainability(3) Environment(2) Irish(1) Valentine's Day(3) dining(1) Learning Story(1) SPICE Framework(1) respect(5) Lego(2) HR(1) Sequins(1) Visual Impairment(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) animals(2) Funding(1) Inclusion(3) friendships(1) GDPR(1) Dance(1) Buddy Bench(1) Family(1) Brain(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Quality(4) Pobal sector profile(1) CIT(1) Painting(1) Teamwork(1) Maynooth University(1) Thank you(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Smiles(1) Academic Skills(1) worries(1) The Lullaby Book(1) dublin(2) risky play(2) United Nations(1) Spiders(1) Engineering(2) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Playschool(1) Training(2) food(1) Feeding(1) Imagination(3) Trade union(1) Playdough(1) babies(7) Degree(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Names(1) ERASMUS+(3) Mixed age groups(2) Wrapping paper(1) National Awards 2018(2) Celebrations(4) Consent(1) interacting(2) Fantasy play(1) Supernanny(1) meals(3) Drawing(2) Iceland(1) curriculum(5) Line-ups(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Trigonometry(1) TRAP(1) Plastic(1) Magic(1) Culture(2) Touch(1) UN(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) development(8) Technology(2) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Diversity(1) NAEYC(1) Independence(1) Time Out(1) Italy(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Síolta(105) National Holiday(1) curiosity(3) Maternity Leave(1) Reflective Practice(1) experience(1) role playing(1) toddlers(3) Síolta QAP(1) Builders(1) relationships(17) Vertical grouping(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(1) Engineers Week(2) early childhood educator(1) Workplace well-being(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Treasure(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) School Age Childcare(1) Confident(1) ICBN(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) outdoor space(3) Administrative Burden(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) transitions(10) CCTV(1) Potential(1) Impact(1) educarer(1) Little Buddies(1) Vietnam(1) supportive environments(2) Sculptures(1) emotional environment(1) Twitter(1) scéalta(29) risk assessment(1) UD(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Capable(1) Thinking(1) Stress(2) Children's Research Network(1) Pobal(1) Cork(1) documentation(2) University(1) Childcare(2) Early Years Educators(2) Ceremony(1) Learning Story Awards(1) Through the looking glass(1) Engagement(1) books(4) Penguins(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine