Blocks are one of my favorite teaching materials to have in the classroom. They are so versatile and will allow children to explore to their heart’s content! Having other handy tools to add to the block play simply enables children to be that much more creative and accepting of knew information. Using tools to create a car or bus and driving to any destination using much loved blocks, builds story telling skills.
Story telling skills are the beginnings of writing and reading. The very foundations for these two much needed skills start when children are in the preschool years. Love for reading comes from many sources, but one for sure source, is blocks! Using a variety of blocks and other essential materials allow a child to explore creative ideas without any boundaries and puts them on the road to understanding.
And while on the road to understanding, young minds can actually formulate stories through the movement of blocks. Using blocks to form a road that can take you wherever your imagination wants to go. Often the “road” a child takes arises from their real life experiences, any stories they’ve heard or shows they’ve watched. When a road of blocks is constructed that child is not only developing pre-readng skills, but adding math with measurement; length and distance.
Fairies come in handy when a child decides that movies are in order and we must have friends watch with us. 🙂 In order for this concept to develop there had to be the geo- boards, fairies and blocks in place. With multiple items at a child’s fingertips who knows what direction their stories may take! Why not combine early math skills with early reading skills? Why not listen to a child’s words as he/ she formulates ideas aloud through the use of materials designed just for them? 🙂
Not all blocks should be built into something recognizable. Sometimes blocks should stay where a child has placed them. And as we can see fairies arrived and sat on those blocks emphasizing their positions. Children have ideas for how they wish to build, story tell and construct. Sometimes it is important to dump, group, gather, place, plan and build. All of these things take time and must evolve with the pace of the child’s developing mind and desire. This is where I need to be patient, something great is happening even though it may just look like a pile of blocks.
Constructing a home did happen, with time. New fairies were added to this home and geo-shapes took on the role of food. A child’s imagination used skills such as reasoning, measurement, weight, balance, size, shape and not to mention beginning reading concepts to construct a fairy sized home. I asked questions when I thought the child may need a path to choose, but I found that this child already had a story in mind.
Yes, children take their ideas to other parts of the classroom. The classroom can be a third teacher if it is used and set up in a way that supports all learners. Making sure drawing tools are varied and available allowed this child to continue with story telling. I don’t like getting in the way of a child’s thinking if I can help it, so if I see they have a plan and it is written in their eyes and their facial expressions, then I step back and watch and wait. Sometimes it is hard to wait and see what happens, but as I wait, I find that I am needed as a scribe.
And we go back to blocks because the story of the “Three Little Pigs” was recreated from a child’s perspective using blocks! Story telling emerged from blocks, so this child delved into dramatic play, and supported this with tools used for mathematical understanding. Let children play, so each can learn in a natural way and in tern actually be prepared for their elementary years. Lets not take away “play”. Life is learning, academics are a part of life. The essential skills, the building blocks children need in order to learn are the very tools that often times are dismissed by those who may not quite understand their uses. The picture at the right contains the three pigs and the wolf on the last house, the brick house. I know this only because the child told me the story, but otherwise I may have looked at it and thought it was just another structure and nothing special. Once you think something a child creates isn’t special, look again! 🙂
Tell me of your block adventures! I would love to read all about them! 🙂
Heidi Scott, BA & MIT
Leave a Reply