Saturday, April 5, 2014

THE MAKING OF A CASTLE TOWER - Children and Culture

It's Enrique here and I'm so glad you're back for another glimpse at ways to engage young learners at any age.  This content and beauty of this blog comes in large part from the Sunnyside Head Start Center, which is part of Child-Parent Centers in Southern Arizona.  It also comes to us from the childhood memories of one of their leaders, Center Director Thelma Valdez.  Enjoy this description of what a "Castle Tower" is in the Mexican culture.

Castle Towers are part of the collective memory of many who have grown up in the U.S. Southwest and Mexico.

Castle Towers can be made in miniature and is a great ongoing project for kids of any age, including  3 - 5 year olds.  In my hometown of Tucson, Arizona, Castle Towers make sense as they connect us to a part of our Latin culture.  For other parts of the world, you could choose to make Castle Towers to "visit" our part of the world… or you could choose something from you culture to replicate in miniature.  For Castle Towers, you're going to need a lot of very colorful items.

  • Colored Ribbons
  • Colored String

  • Plain Toothpicks
  • Colored Toothpicks

  • Small wood pieces of different shapes
  • Colored material cut into small shapes, including flags

  • Scissors
  • A square or rectangular piece of wood as the base

  • Glue
  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking

  • Patience to build small parts first

and the practiced vision to see how the small parts fit into a larger system

A giving adult to act as a guide and who is willing to ask questions like, "what else could we use?" and "how can we solve that problem?"

There are so many variations and you sometimes end up creating more than you envisioned, which is something we can hopefully continue to experience as adults.

The physical things you need to build a Castle Tower are obviously important, but there is something more important… the willingness to risk and explore… there is no one way.

Young learners will develop fine motor skills that are pre-writing in nature and it's also quite possible to learn about colors, shapes, proportion, and much more with young learners.  With older learners you could easily focus on things such as symmetry, asymmetry, fulcrum and counterbalance...

but there is something more important that can and should be learned through this experience…

Starting with a plan and expecting the plan to change.
Starting with a plan and looking forward to change.
Setting mini-goals to reach larger ones.
Being open to new goals appearing.
Finishing what you start.

Seeing more to create… even when you're "done."

What more can you do with the young learners in your life?

Enrique C. Feldman, Founder/Director of Education
Co-Founder/Director of Education


  1. Can you imagine what rich, creative thinkers we would produce in schools if children did more of these great activities?! I LOVE this! Thank you for sharing! :)
    Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together

    1. Absolutely Carolyn! The organizations I'm involved with (FAME Foundation, MyTown Music, Make A Hand, and Context Method) are all actively creating these kinds of opportunities and getting huge by in from large educational entities, like the LA County of Education…. a wonderful movement to be sure!

  2. This brings back such fond memories for me. I've travelled in Mexico on occasion, and a few years ago decided to stay in Oaxaca City for a whole month to experience a huge harvest/music/dance festival called Guelegeutza. During my stay, three different churches had feast days with the burning of the towers, some of whose parts spun. The structures were fabulous installations which I appreciated on their sculptural merits alone - but when they were lit - magnifico. Thank you for creating such a rich connection.

    1. Fantastic that this connected you to such rich memories….thanks for reading!


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