The Learning Power of Block Play

You will notice that every room in the Preschool has blocks, and an area for block play. The reason is simple, block play is a great way for young children to learn. As they construct, create, and represent their world in blocks they grow in each area of development (social/ emotional, cognitive, language, and physical). Block play is what we educators call "open end- ed". This means there is no right way, or pattern to follow. Open ended play generally fos- ters the creativity of young children.

In the two year old room we have bigger blocks, that are made of cardboard. Easier for little hands to build with, they are lighter, and if a child happens to throw one (just to see what it feels like to throw) then no friends will be hurt. The picture to the right shows you the Panda class blocks.

Once the children move into the 3-4 year old classrooms they are more interested in playing with the classic wooden unit blocks. They love to build roads and make piles of blocks, and finally to make bridges.

Once the kids move into the 4-5 year old room we see much more complex structures being built, with lots of added "do-withs" (as Caroline Pratt called them, she is the educator credited with the introduction of unit blocks in the early 1900's).

Do-withs are people, horses, balls, just about anything that can be added to blocks to extend the play from blocks alone. The picture to the left shows you a complex structure enhanced with do-withs.

When children ask you to admire their building work, ra- ther than a compliment like "good job" ask them to ex- plain to you what they have built, and how they built it.

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The Buzz Newsletter September 2017