Saturday, July 10, 2010

Take Blocks Out of the Classroom!


Blocks have to be one of the best toys ever invented!

I am a firm believer that they have a strong place in every classroom up through the primary years and beyond.  They come in many shapes, sizes, colors and textures.  Sadly, they are being taken out of the early childhood classrooms.  I advocate taking them out of the classroom as well.....but only so you can play with them outside!!

Using large blocks outside with young children extends and engages their spatial awareness in new directions.  Dramatic play reaches new heights as ships are built and children walk the plank, rockets are created then blasted off and forts are established and protected.  Balance and symmetry concepts are learned as bridges are built and tested.

Using large blocks fosters teamwork and cooperation.  Children negotiate placement of blocks and how to get their friends to join their "notion" so that their idea can become bigger using all of he blocks.
I often find that after awhile all of the blocks are being used on one idea, especially in the fours classroom. Then they start adding all the other equipment available to embellish their work; hula hoops, cones, balls, traffic signs, shovels, etc.  The problem solving that it takes to make this work is incredible and what is even more incredible is that they are working it out on their own.  The role of the teachers is to listen and be ready to step in with support.

I will add that we do talk about de-construction or demolition.  We talk to the children about safety when they are ready to knock down a building.  The rule is hands only-no feet.  First check that no one is inside the structure or behind it.  This does take a few lessons-the urge to kick it down is always irresistible.

Lastly, a terrific class gift that my school received this year is another set of large wooden blocks.  On this set, however, a parent had engraved each child's name as the child would have written it with a router.  This class was a set of voracious builders-so they have a legacy now.

So I stand on my soap box, built with blocks of course: keep blocks in the classroom, but bring them out as well!

2 comments:

  1. Blocks are such an important part of the daily curriculum! My classes build such wonderful things! And each class is different, each child is different but the cooperation and problem solving learned from blocks is enormous! I haven't taken my large blocks outside, but think I will give it a try this fall! Thanks for the encourgement!

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