Several boys were using blocks and tracks to build a road system for their cars. Very wisely they all agreed they would need a petrol station to refuel their vehicles and tried to figure out where to put it.

It needs go here so my car get in.” One child suggested.

But my bus can’t get through there!”

this was followed by “an’ your cars blocking the track now!”

On hearing this debate, Mrs J suggested looking at how real petrol stations worked on the computer but the children had a better idea, “Why not go look at our garage on the road!” someone suggested.

Having checked the local map of where we would need to go, the children went off to get their coats whilst staff completed a safety check-list for outings.

Whilst out on the walk we came across a car that had broken down. The RAC man was working hard to get it going and explained what he was doing. Inside his van he had lots of tools and equipment.

 We finally made it to the petrol station and we could see how it was at the side of the road rather than on it, with different lanes for going in and out to avoid traffic jams. The children could compare their petrol pumps with the real thing and watch as drivers fuelled up their cars and vans.   

What it means

These children were able to find their own solution to their conundrum of where to place their petrol station. Rather than falling into arguments and disagreements when faced with a problem in their construction they were supported to find a way to solve this problem. Using the opportunities available they have been able to find out about the jobs people do and the community and place where they live. Communication and language skills have enabled them to ask pertinent questions and extend their vocabulary.

From our observation of these children throughout this activity we are able to observe and learn about their interests and then assess where they are in their stage of development. We can then plan further play opportunities to develop, extend and consolidate their understanding further. E.g. mark making equipment to enable them to plan and draw more garage designs or create a tally chart of how many vehicles they have seen.