Girls’ and boys’ construction toys and play
Girls’ and boys’ construction toys and play are different (cf. Steenhold (1993,d:7.1.2. and 7.1.3.) and girls are generally nowhere near as interested in traditional construction toys as boys. The biggest difference is that boys like larger constructions and models while girls prefer “micro”-models and smaller recycled things for cutting out/sticking and drawing constructions.
Where the act of construction itself is concerned, girls prefer functional models which can be included in their own personal systems while boys’ focus is concentrated on action and function.
Boys prefer huge things while the girls prefer small, aesthetically beautiful things/models. Boys are - to a certain extent - interested in the process of building per se while girls focus more on the model itself and how it can be incorporated in play. While the boys allow the model to speak for itself, girls include their constructed models in an enormous variety of alternative connections.
Concerning the nature of the constructions - the way in which a model is built: Boys prefer hard elements, preferably of the same material and type, and girls use many different types of materials and objects. Boys stack in width and height and make authentic copies while girls stack and rivet in planes, make chains (threading beads) and “fence things in” in addition to shaping and sampling.
It is important to differentiate between the two general methods of building, which are dependent on the builder’s talent and ability to construct, i.e.:
- fantasising and creating freely on the basis of one’s own personal fantasyimage of how a model should, could or ought to look, and
- interpreting an illustration or building instruction and copying a model.
These two methods are naturally combined but both demand a certain age, maturity and degree of development.
After the age of 6-7 years, few children (maybe as little as 5%) will still possess an imaginative and creative ability to imagine and create completely freely. By contrast, copying - often following instructions or directions which suit the child’s level of development and which are not too difficult - will continue to appeal to everyone and any child can do it. Most children will also be satisfied with only being able to construct by copying.