The Young Town Planner:
Town planning is the physical development of an area which makes living more
comfortable for people in a society. In this context, town planning is a way of creatively
engaging kids with the of different children-friendly materials. Tapes, clays, sticks, legos,
are all building blocks of a great city engineered, designed and built by your toddler.
Town planning as a form of creative engagement focuses on three aspects.
3) Sculpting and Building
Architecture is a process and a product which is an overview of both designing, sculpting,
building and planning. It focuses on the child’s ability to understand space and its
utilization. It also provides the basic idea for construction of roads, buildings, parks, etc.
Architecture, therefore, is the foundation for Town Planning.
Designing is a narrowed down aspect of city planning. It reflects in the choice of material
used, their colour preference and where the objects are placed. Barbie House sets are a
great example of designing as the toddlers are free to put any object wherever they like for
as long as it fits in that space.
Sculpting and Building focuses on hands-on-activities. They are the products of
implemented ideas of architecture and designing. They help develop fine motor skills, eye-
hand coordination and balance. Sculpting can be done with clay which can be used to
make buildings, trees, huts, etc. Building focuses on more solid objects like legos, boxes
Town planning is not just about constructing buildings, shops or roads to make a concrete
forest, but is also about creating an actual forest. It involves growing or placing trees in
the right places, sprouting grass on barren lands and constructing public parks. It also
necessitates thinking about minorities in terms of income, differently abled, driver and
non-driver, etc. Toddlers may understand this better than us as many of these terms apply
to them. They cannot drive or earn but would need smooth surfaces for rolling or parks
Growing up Boulder is an initiative which began in 2009 by the University of Colorado
and the city of Boulder, working with children of 0-18 years of age. They aim to
“empower Boulder’s young people with opportunities for inclusion, influence, and
deliberation on local issues which affect their lives.” Mara Mintzer, an urban architect,
introduced this initiative to the public in the Tedx Talk; ‘We let kids design our city —
here’s what happened’. She argues that the farfetched, sky-is-the-limit sort of ideas of
trampolines and water jets that kids want in their town is only their way of wanting thrill-
seeking opportunities which are of health benefit for both kids as well as adults.
Toddlers should be given the chance to explore different materials which can help build
their town. Their planning may not directly resonate with the houses built by the three
little pigs, as, for starters, they are the brains behind their construction, as well as the
wolves that huff and puff and demolish these houses. Secondly, building with delicate
materials is a form of art. We often compare our precision and concentration with our
ability of making house of cards. Thus, a toddler’s quality of work is a series of experiment
which helps them determine their favorite material and course of action to build a town.