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:

European Project(1) memories(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) NAEYC(1) Weather(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Jillian van Turnhout(1) UNCRC(1) Capable(1) science week(2) University(1) listen(1) Feeding(1) Buddy Bench(1) Supernanny(1) Builders(1) dining(1) Consent(1) Seas Suas(1) ECEC Setting(1) Nonverbal(1) Santa(2) research(6) Leadership(1) Positivity(1) continual professional development(1) behavioural science(1) pets(1) Glitter(2) Family(1) Funding(1) Building Resilience(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Belonging(3) Learning Story Awards(2) emotional environment(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Pobal(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Super Shed Stories(1) Xbox(1) Learning journals(1) child-centred approach(1) Diversity(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) STEM(3) dogs(1) RIE philosphy(1) Syria(1) Mantra(1) Japan(1) Buddies(1) Appreciation(1) stories(2) planning(1) Decisions(1) Certificate(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Independence(1) Blocks(1) Creative(1) Frustrations(1) curriculum(5) Early Years Educators(3) Maths Week Ireland(1) bonds(1) Investment(2) Winter(1) Rich Documentation(1) Time(1) Visitors(1) Employee(1) Community involvement(1) Adoption(1) Fee Play(1) curiosity(3) Flowers(1) budget(1) Qualifications(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Magda Gerber(1) Mark Twain(1) environments(1) iOS(1) Pobal sector profile(1) educarer(1) Intention(1) conversations(1) Traditions(2) dining experiences(1) Penguins(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Primary School(2) babies(7) Names(1) Storytelling(5) School Age Childcare(1) AIM(2) Social Skills(1) Thinking(1) Child mental health(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Hand Hygiene(1) Family wall(1) Summer(1) Trigonometry(1) baby room(1) TOY Programme(1) Learning Story(1) Love(2) Cork(1) Children and families(1) Degree(1) outdoor space(3) interacting(2) Reflective Practice(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) toddlers(3) Anxiety(2) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Brain(1) Grief(1) food(1) preschool settings(1) Sequins(1) Self-regulation(1) overhear(1) GDPR(1) Health(2) Kerry(1) Online(1) Maternity Leave(1) worries(1) apps for children(1) Celebrate(1) National Holiday(1) Cognitive development(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) communication(4) Iraq(1) Competent(1) Mathematicians(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Awards Night(1) Autism(3) relationships(17) Malaguzzi(1) Bereavement(2) learning(19) ERASMUS+(3) ECEC(2) United Nations(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Party(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Sweets(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Thanks(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Kilkenny(1) Childhood(1) Treasure Chest(1) Twitter(1) Snacks(1) Scents(1) Interaction(1) Sustainable(1) community(5) under 3's(3) Through the looking glass(1) Training(2) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Leargas(1) CCTV(1) NCCA(3) Reggio Children Network(1) UD(1) Sculptures(1) friendships(1) Mixed age groups(2) National Pyjama Day(1) Communicating(1) Spiders(1) Upcycling(1) Death(2) Communications(1) CPD(1) Document Learning(1) Kids Own(1) role playing(1) Visual Impairment(1) Valentine's Day(3) risky play(2) Window(1) Graduate(1) early childhood educator(1) Settling in(4) mushrooms(1) Research Conference 2019(1) supportive environments(2) Study Trip(1) Reading Time(1) Educators(2) Professionalisation(5) Interests(1) Line-ups(1) risk(2) Growing up in Ireland(3) Graduation(1) Human Resources(1) PIP(1) Wonder(1) Little Buddies(1) Touch(1) Engagement(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) respect(5) educating(1) journey(1) Arts(1) College(1) Laugh(1) Children's Rights(3) Exploring and Thinking(1) Margy Whalley(1) Technology(3) Confidence(1) Map(1) Queues(1) Smiles(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Workplace Relations(3) Inclusion(3) awards 2020(1) TRAP(1) New Appointments(1) Meet the Members(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Behaviour(3) Obesity(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Laughter(1) Drawing(2) Support(1) Challenges(1) Mount Everest(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Maths Week(1) social media(1) Craft(1) Magic(1) aistear blog(3) linc(1) Children's Voice(1) San Miniato(4) Environment(2) ears(1) Recycle(1) Mud kitchens(1) Awards(2) Iceland(1) Maynooth(1) Playdough(1) Performance Management(1) Lego(2) Maths(5) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) CIT(1) MECPI(1) Fabric(1) eating(1) Infectious diseases(1) Care routines(1) Running(1) Maria Montessori(1) First 5(1) learners(1) early years research(2) emotions(2) AsIAm(1) Plants(1) Administrative Burden(1) Trade Unions(1) Halloween(2) Inter-generational(2) INTO(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) MA(1) Universal Design(2) Snack Time(1) Favouritism(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) outdoors(3) Exercise(1) Confident(1) collaboration(1) animals(2) life long learning(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) refugees(1) Exclusion(1) Digital Devices(1) Shapes(1) Painting(1) EM Standing(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) blog(28) Youtube Series(1) Arithmetic(1) SPICE Framework(1) science(3) bloom app(1) Awards 2019(1) Mayo(1) IGL(1) Horizon 2020(1) Shoes(1) Light table(1) Inspirational(2) Reggio(1) Art(6) Ceremony(1) Inter-generational learning(2) documentation(3) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Imagination(3) research submissions(1) Easter(1) story time(2) Affordability(1) Sport(1) Celebrations(4) Traffic Lights(1) annual conference(1) Engineering(3) Body Language(1) Decision Making(1) Relaxation(1) pablo(1) Gardening(1) Vertical grouping(1) Children(3) Pen green(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) Giraffe(2) DES Inspection(1) Wrapping paper(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) development(8) Thank you(1) trust(3) HR(1) Research Seminar(1) Vietnam(1) Early Learning and Care(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Wilenski(1) Sleep(1) Leprechauns(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) gender stereotype(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(1) Sessional service(1) Identity and Belonging(4) risk assessment(1) reading(5) ReCreate(2) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) outdoor play(6) Playschool(1) Biting(1) Design(1) First 5 strategy(1) Games(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Budget 2020(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Early Years(1) Self Help Skills(1) man up(1) COVID-19(1) Digital(1) Teamwork(1) dublin(2) Albert Einstein(1) Self-Esteem(1) Maynooth University(1) Budget 2018(1) Patterns(1) Masterclass(2) Participation(2) christmas(9) Síolta QAP(1) Yoga(1) Facebook(1) Story(1) purpose(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Advocacy(1) Titles(1) Empathy(1) Whole Group(1) Creativity(4) Infection Control(1) Learning Journal(1) routine(2) Snakes(1) Identity(5) Oireachtas(1) Eritrea(1) Workplace well-being(1) education(2) Dance(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Role play(1) youdoodle(1) gender bias(1) Elders(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Culture(2) maternity health(1) Nutrition(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Music(3) imotion(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) parents(6) play stories(1) books(4) National Awards 2019(1) Inspections(1) The Jelly King(1) Trick or treat(1) Síolta(110) ICBN(1) Magnavacchi(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) social science(1) grandchild(1) early years learning(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Rituals(1) Home Corner(1) Scéalta Blog(94) Quality(4) E.coli(1) Workforce(1) Event Guide(1) Gratitude(1) Mo Scéal(1) National Awards 2018(2) keezy(1) Recycling(2) Stress(2) Exploring(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) value(1) Learning Stories(9) Arlene Forster(1) conference(1) scéalta(30) DCYA(4) Norway(2) code of ethics(1) Potential(1) Budget 2019(2) Photographs(1) Mealtimes(1) RTE Investigates(1) listening(1) Wendy Lee(3) UN(1) Irish(1) Impact(1) Wesco(1) Care-giving routines(1) Staff Motivation(1) Exit interview(1) Plastic(1) Italy(1) Book Review(1) phone apps(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Trade union(1) Limerick(1) ECCE(7) Change(1) meals(3) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) learning bias(1) Mental Health(3) Academics(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Meal time(1) Treasure(1) Time Out(1) Montessori(3) EECERA 2016(1) Fantasy play(1) Afghanistan(1) Children's Research Network(1) Loss(1) experience(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Performing(1) Siolta blog(7) Breathing(2) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Jenga(1) Book Club(2) Sustainability(3) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Awards 2018(3) Childcare(2) Mindfulness(2) preschool(3) Academic Skills(1) transitions(10) Socioemotional development(1) Orla Kenny(1) feisty(1) Prexit(1) Aistear(116) Annual Conference 2017(2) Policy(2) Well-Being(9) play(32) Department of Education and Skills(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Routines(1) Engineers Week(2) Interactions(2) Our Little Seed(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine