Conversation with Samuel (5) during uncle-duty today:
S: We have so many Lego bricks but no building-instructions :(
Me: That's true. Well, what do you think about making instructions ourselves based on those amazing vehicles you created there?
S: Mmh, how do you mean?
Me: You could use drawings and writing to explain every step of your building-process.
S: But I can't write that well yet.
Me: I can write for you, no problem.
S: (thinks long...) Uncle Beni?
S: Can you please go and get some paper?
And the next hour we spent immersed in creating Lego-instructions for vehicles and creatures Samuel invented on the spot.
Quickly he understood the concept of drawing a graphical model from the three basic angles (front, side, top) step by step and labeling the parts precisely. It is important to think which perspective to choose and how many new pieces to add in one instruction step. We must think ahead how well we, or someone else, might comprehend these instructions when reversing the process at some point; building based on instructions instead of creating instructions based on a building.
We drew both and I wrote. I was so enjoying how he really got a handle on this abstract idea of representing something in a way it can be reproduced later. After we finished the first set of instructions (for a dragon... sort of) I told him that we could now deconstruct (=smash) the real model because we can reproduce infinitely many based on these instructions - he was clearly amazed at this point.
I think if I ever become a dad I would not only document these situations thoroughly if they emerge, but actually map out crucial cognitive patterns and strategically create learning spaces for them.