Who says girls can’t build?

I’d been thinking of getting the girls a marble run lately. There are many varieties on the market – from simple (and expensive) wooden ones, to fairly inexpensive and kind of complicated plastic ones.

Here’s a selection of wooden and plastic marble runs from Growing Tree Toys. I’d seen the Alex Toys one at a discount store recently and almost picked it up, but didn’t. Even discounted, it was still $40. A little too pricey for me.

But my husband had been browsing on an electronics website (don’t ask me which one), and showed me one that looked kind of neat. It was plastic (which I’m not fond of, but I can live with). And it was only $25 (though I’ve seen it for as high as $32). Since we needed something else from the place, I said go ahead and get it. It was the Tecno-Gears Marble Mania apprentice, from the Learning Journey. It has 215 pieces, gears and a motorized marble return (though you can opt to put them back yourself too).

My oldest daughter is 6. So my husband put her in charge of building it. And she did remarkably well, following the directions. She needed assistance on a few aspects of it, but she did great overall.

Here is a picture of the final marble run she built mostly herself:

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I think she did a great job. This is the second thing she’s built by herself. The other one was a few lincoln log buildings like this

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She followed the picture directions and did great.

Now, for parents of boys, I’m sure this isn’t all that big a deal. But really, it’s great for me to see my girls being exposed to building things and being GOOD at it. All I did growing up was mostly “girl stuff” – play with dolls and the like. I remember thinking growing up, I wish I could do more boy stuff. I would go through the catologs and drool over chemistry kits and building sets. I also remember wanting desperately to learn how to work on car engines and change the oil and wanted to learn woodworking too. Of course even nowadays, the car engines are so complex and computerized, that it’s no longer a simple task to fix your own car.

I just never got that exposure – well, I take that back, I did have shop class for 6 weeks in 6th grade which was awesome! And despite my early exposure to only girl activities, I managed to enter a predominantly male field – science. And I was good at it. But to this day, I still have trouble with visual-spatial knowledge. I know that boys are supposed to be naturals at it, but then again, if girls are given the exposure to it from an early enough age, there’s no reason why girls can’t be just as good as the boys.

But that’s just my humble opinion.

I’d really like to know if there are other mothers out there with plans on giving their girls equal exposure to boy stuff too? I can’t be the only one, can I?

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4 Responses to Who says girls can’t build?

  1. KatieMae says:

    As a homeschooling family, I expect my girls to have very similar learning experiences to the boys – they’ll be exposed to toys and topics that would normally seem to favor one gender over the other. All the children will be introduced to handcrafts and know how to use a sewing machine, but also my husband and I are looking forward to their “shop” projects like wooden bird feeders and maybe even some simple cabinetry making. Likewise, we’ll encourage them to pursue music and literature, as well as enjoying math and science lessons. At some point, preferences will emerge with each child’s personality, but giving them the *chance* to sample a little of everything is our goal.

    You also raise a good point about whether or not boys have a stronger visual-spatial sense than girls, in the nature v. nurture realm of discussion. Presently, our 3yo girl is actually more interested in building blocks than our 4.5yo boy, particularly if Daddy is building with her. But I think in her case, it might appeal to her preference of making creative projects rather than enjoying the spacial reasoning like Daddy (an architect) does. It seems to me that she builds for beauty and simply the joy of making something interesting, while he builds for pushing the limits of physics and balance. But whatever her motivation, surely having exposure to boy-stuff AND girl -stuff will encourage both the creative and scientific sides of her personality.

  2. growinginpeace says:

    Katie Mae – thanks for your perspective. I think it just makes sense to teach both genders fairly equally. If I had boys, I’d also want to raise them to have empathy and nuturing qualities, and be able to take care of themselves well by teaching them to cook and do laundry, in addition to having their dad teach them how to build things too. And sometimes, I’m very surprised to find that certain friends’ husbands not only can’t cook, but also can’t do simple repairs around the house. Having the ability to be rather self-sufficient is I think going to be key to beat some of the high cost of living these days. Instead of purchasing things ready-made or hire out professionals when it would be cheaper to do it themselves.

  3. flinny says:

    I loved marble runs when I was little (I grew up with two brothers, one of them my twin, so I had lots of exposure to boy toys). We’d build them, collect lots of different marbles, and make up names, characters and stories about our marbles.

    Have you seen Geomags (or cheaper generic equivalents) for building toys – I think they’re cool even now – a little pricey though, but they double as inorganic chemistry models!

  4. growinginpeace says:

    Oooh, they have pretty pastel ones!

    http://www.geomagsa.com/ct_02.php?IDCategoria=31

    I do like the idea of using them for chemistry models. They look like a lot of fun. I do want to make sure my littlest is 4 before I buy something like that though if they are 10 mm sized marbles because they can damage the intestines if two magnetic marbles are swallowed. Not that she is into putting things in her mouth, but I’d be worried if she swallowed a magnetic marble or two.

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