Blocks are a favorite of almost every young child I’ve taught. 🙂
Blocks offer a child a gateway to the imagination. Add a few extra props, such as cars and the imagination explodes with endless adventure! Suddenly materials objects that may have had only one purpose have now opened up to many different ideas, yet sometimes young minds need a little prompting to get started.
Setting up a provocation like this can entice young minds to question why blocks and cars are set up together. Maybe they have yet to explore the two together which gives me the opportunity to ask some questions, find out what ideas the child has in mind and start a dialogue to see what I can help bring to light.
Sometimes all we have to do is ask a child a few questions and they will respond with their own experiences or story ideas. The story ideas usually take on the form of an endless run-on sentence if actually written down as they say each word. Or the child may recount the experience or experiences he/ she had with blocks from home or a friends house. This wonderful play experience could have happened recently or a year ago. In the mind of a young child three to five sometimes events transcend the normal time line us adults think of. We must remember a child’s mind is uncluttered and free to have crystal clear thoughts. 🙂
Either an event that actually took place or a story the child chooses to recount, this is a great time to type or write down those wonderful thoughts the child is willing to share. When we take the time to listen to a young mind and value his/ her words we are showing the child we value their thoughts and ideas and forming a relationship of mutual respect.
The more elaborate or creative the structure and use of other play materials, I notice the child can be silent as he/ she is in the mode of creative expression. And there are times when a child’s words flow freely as he/ she creates and I had better be fast enough to capture all the words spoken or else I will miss important details. 🙂 Whether the words are describing real life events remembered due to the provocation sparking a memory, or the provocation is a catalyst for an imaginary story, my purpose remains the same. I am here to be a support, scribe, facilitator and challenger of the mind. With a child’s permission I can frame those words, take pictures and hang up the memory or story for all to admire and appreciate. Displaying the child’s ideas with dignity and respect also encourages the child to keep growing and taking an interest in creating more fascinating structures with blocks and integrating other play materials into the projects.
As a Teacher I want to push the children to a state of disequilibrium only to the point at where they can jump to the next level of understanding. Challenges are meant to be attained. If the challenge is too difficult, or if there is too great of disequilibrium the child will become frustrated and give up. We don’t want a young mind to come to that. Remember in life we have enough challenges that may be too difficult to overcome. We as adults and Teachers do not need to create challenges that are too difficult to attain or else we will have successfully stopped the learning journey.
Encouraging dialogue is the best way to continue to show you value your child or students. So keep the doorway to communication and understanding open. We want these young minds to grow to be productive and positive influences on our every changing world. 🙂
Please share your block play or other fun learning experiences! I would love to read all about them! 🙂
Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning