One of my favorite activities to encourage the boys to engage in is 'following directions'. I don't care what activity it is, as long as there is a process of independently following written directions, a video, a recipe, or a schematic.
From the earliest ages, I look for toys that present lots of these opportunities. Some of my favorite commercial toys are Lego Products, K'nex, Rokenbok and Keva Planks.
I have 'heard' some discussion on the internet lately about building products that are geared especially for girls. Lego also introduced sets appealing to girls. I know there are innate and biological differences that affect what boys and girls are drawn to and excel at, but maybe sometimes parents just don't think to bring lots of building toys into a house of girls - if you haven't - why not get some? Yes, Dennis and I bought baby dolls, kitchen sets, and dollhouses into the house from the time Ethan was a toddler. Some things were played with, others were hit on the head with tools ;)
Learning to follow directions is a progressive skill, so I start small - when they are small.
Building on these skills get you bigger and better creations - with motors!
Another great way to follow someone else's directions is on youtube or Instructables. Recently, Gavin found several videos that explain how to 'modify' his Nerf guns for better function, different ammunition and further distances. He has created paper Ninja Stars, a functioning paper crossbow, learned origami, and countless other skills from online sources.
Another great way to introduce and refine 'direction following' is to provide them with recipes. It is construction of a totally different kind! I love that they need to develop attention to detail and can contribute a loaf of bread to dinner.
|'Amish White Bread'|
This is one of those times that I realize this is a skill I completely lack myself. I get halfway through a project only to realize I don't have all the equipment and leave ingredients out recipes. But that does not mean I cannot help them to surpass my shortcomings - I will continue to point them in directions to seek these skills for themselves.
Just for the record - some of these toys and sets can be very pricey. I obtain almost all of them from thrift shops and various resales. Also knowing what types of items I want for the boys, I have asked for them as gifts over the years - so don't let $$ get in the way of your fun! Build on.