The Magic of Hard-Hats and Bulldozers: Construction Sites and Why Our Kids Love Them

Laura Stallard Petza
September 15, 2009

There's nothing like a construction site -- the mounds of dirt; the bright, yellow bulldozers; the cranes -- to capture a certain kind of toddler's attention.  And if you live with this certain kind of toddler, the kind of toddler who, say, spends more time building miniature roads and modeling hard-hats than eating, you've probably wondered what it is about the nature of construction that gets your little one so fired-up. Though really, when you think about it, there is something pretty amazing about making something from nothing, about taking a heap of bricks and steel and lumber and turning it into a grocery store or a house. When we, in our jaded adulthood, look at a highway or a shopping center, maybe all we see is the way to work or the place where we buy our toilet paper and orange juice. But the construction-loving toddler, so curious about everything's origins, looks for the girders, for the graders, for the why and how and where of every structure he sees.

Got a little architect, engineer or builder in the family?  Then why not support her passion for construction by taking a trip to a building site?  Safety, needless to say, should always be your first concern, but safety can easily be guaranteed, provided you stand a good distance from the action. And you don't need to get all that close, anyway, to get a fairly good sense of what's going on. Because construction equipment is big! And noisy! And building sites, generally, take up a good deal of space.  So choose a crane out of the skyline, follow it, and discover just what's going up.  And go back often!  Part of what makes construction sites so interesting is that they're never, almost even from minute to minute, the same.  Stop by in September, and it's nothing but framework; head back in October, and whoa, Nelly, there're walls! The fact that construction is an ongoing process is as fascinating as the machines and construction workers themselves.

Will your toddler's obsession with backhoes today lead to a career in construction tomorrow?  Who knows?  But, given how beautifully he builds with cardboard bricks, and given how much you'd like a new house, it doesn't hurt to dream.

From the Parents

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