Have you ever noticed how much children talk while they build with blocks? The blocks themselves become their language. Children learn best through authentic experiences. Exploration of block play is very valuable and most enriching for young children.In JK we see children using blocks to create a bigger picture, whether it is a representation of something they have seen or from their imagination. Exploring with blocks also nurtures a deeper understanding and lens for mathematics, science, literacy, technology and dramatic play.
When playing with blocks, three of our JK boys and one of the girls collaborated to build: ‘The Mall.’ Through this process they learned to develop a sophisticated use of language, how to string sentences together using an expanding vocabulary and further enhanced in-depth thought processes. This week, the carpet came alive with another construction entitled, ‘The Trains’.
Asking open- ended questions about their building inspired the children to have new ideas, as well as confidence in their creativity. Instead of asking “What did you build?” a savvy teacher asks: “Tell me your story about your construction?”
Throughout the building we observed the children carrying, stacking, creating bridges, parking tunnels, a flower garden signs for the Mall, piling and balancing blocks and much more, to achieve their goals. The Train comprised of: tracks, trains, people, walkways, parking spots, cars, etc. to tell the story of the railway and the train travelers.
Block Play is not limited to only wooden blocks though. The children understand and know that the abundance of materials in their classroom, some bought, some collected and some searched for are all an integral part of building. All of the materials are for their use to represent their ideas in most striking, intriguing and unusual ways. At this place and time, the latest structure will be taken apart, put away, and the space awaits new and rich constructions.
Photographs and documentation pieces remain visible, so that the children can revisit and reflect. Why not consider the children using the camera, as the project unfolds further? We ask ourselves. The children have also documented their ideas onto paper in their intricate design plans, complete with labels and tales.