Block Play – What’s Actually Going On?


Just lately, I used to be requested to current to Pre-Okay lecturers on the subject of block play.  I wasn’t very enthusiastic in regards to the subject as a result of it made me consider issues like math and engineering which aren’t my areas of power.  Nevertheless, it was an task, so I started to perform a little research and what do you assume occurred?  It ended up being considered one of my new fascinations!  The extra I learn, the extra intrigued I turned.  There was a lot occurring when kids performed with blocks, and I want I had discovered this info earlier in my profession as a classroom trainer.  I had in all probability missed some very superb issues through the years as a result of I didn’t actually perceive what was really taking place within the block space of my classroom. Due to this fact, I need to share one attention-grabbing piece of analysis I found whereas delving into this subject.  Hopefully, you too might be mesmerized by this info along with turning into extra conscious of what kids are doing when engaged in block play. 

One stand-out piece from my investigation was Harriet Johnson’s analysis from 1933 on the levels of block play.  She identifies seven levels that younger kids traverse.  The primary stage begins with toddlers.  Should you watch rigorously, they don’t actually use blocks for building, however somewhat collect, carry, and dump blocks.  To the untrained eye, this may increasingly seem to be a waste of time, however little ones are literally gaining hands-on experiences and sensory details about ideas corresponding to extra, much less, few, many, heavy, mild, stability, and so on.  Moreover, they’re constructing their gross and superb motor abilities as they bend, squat, seize, and so forth.

The second stage is when the constructing begins.  It’s largely about making horizontal and vertical rows.  Once more, not too thrilling, however there’s a objective behind this monotony.  Kids have to apply a job again and again to refine their abilities and reinforce their confidence.  So, you might even see the ground coated in lengthy, crooked trains or stacked towers that appear to be they are going to tumble at any second.  Nevertheless, as kids apply, their trains will develop into straighter and their towers extra secure.  Apply makes excellent!

Stage three is about bridging.  Right here you’ll discover two blocks supporting a 3rd throughout the highest to create a bridge.  Whereas it appears fairly unsophisticated, it’s really consultant of the post-and-lintel system utilized in structure.  This requires each spatial consciousness and downside fixing as kids need to calculate how far aside the 2 blocks have to be as a way to assist the third that spans throughout the highest.  Abilities like perseverance are wanted as a way to make it by way of this stage.  As soon as a baby masters this, you might even see bridges constructed on high of bridges.

Stage 4 brings us to enclosures.  Kids place blocks in such a manner that they enclose an area.  Once more, this requires spatial abilities and downside fixing to succeed.  Strings of enclosures which can be related could ensue.  Younger learners might also experiment with modifying the form and dimension of the enclosure, create round enclosures or enclosures in some kind of a sample.

Extra imaginative block constructing emerges in stage 5.  Kids start to make use of extra blocks, assemble extra elaborate designs, combine patterns, and experiment with stability and symmetry.  Whereas they’re actually simply constructing for the sake of constructing, we all know all the maths and science abilities which can be being developed and practiced throughout this stage.

In keeping with Johnson, stage six evolves to the naming of constructions and using them for dramatic play functions.  Kids will start to speak about their rocket, airport, or palace and incorporate them into their role-playing eventualities.

This results in the seventh and last stage.  Now blocks are used to characterize issues kids know corresponding to homes, automobiles, or the native procuring middle.  They’re incorporating all the opposite levels at this level so you’ll in all probability spot some bridges and enclosures.  Particulars are being added, and their creations could develop into considerably creative.  This stage demonstrates their representational considering which is proof of advanced cognitive improvement.  We might also witness their creativity, planning abilities as they put together to construct and broaden on their creations, and presumably cooperative abilities in the event that they work with others on developing or on performing out dramatic play roles and scenes.

Having the information of the levels of block play provides adults the flexibility to investigate and perceive what is really occurring as kids take part in block constructing.  After we notice what is basically occurring, it permits us to scaffold studying, assess the place kids are at, and use the knowledge to tell instruction.  We are able to then construct younger learners up whereas they’re busy constructing.

Cecilia Cruse

Jennifer Fernandez

Jennifer has over 30 years of expertise in schooling. She has levels in Elementary Schooling, Spanish, and Bilingual Schooling and holds educating licenses in Texas and Minnesota. She has taught PreK-2nd grade usually and bilingual settings. She served as knowledgeable studying specialist for seven years and at the moment presents at state and nationwide conferences.
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