Video 19: Brick by Brick – Part 1.

Blocks, books, sticks, or boxes. It seems like kids will use anything to build something that will inevitably turn into a house, a spaceship, or a secret place that only they know what it is. In “Brick by Brick – Part 1” I focus on building with blocks only. In parts 2 and 3, we will have a chance to see what happens when children add other things to the mix, or use “different” kinds of blocks.

This short clip ends with shots that include a “Save This Please” sign. This open exploration teaches them so much more about problem solving, about themselves and learning concepts than any collection of worksheets.

Every time they re-enter play, children pick up from where they left off and they approach their inquiry processes in a different way. They come in fresh with new ideas and maybe with new partners who will certainly add to the sense of continuity because they weren’t there to begin with! Chances are that the new start will begin with questions that will help children revisit their thought processes and engage in learning that is visible for them. They will now explore mathematical and scientific ideas around volume, balance, space and number in a revised way, if not brand new. Children often benefit from the tactile experience of touching and holding these blocks which vary is size and weight. They will revisit what works and what doesn’t work and use trial and error that provides a new foundation for future play. Once they reach a familiarity with this process, they are ready to face challenges for themselves and they will feel more competent!

I often point to the different architectural parts of a building when I go out with my children – even to the grocery store: how many of you have found a bird’s nest comfortably set at the bottom of a letter that hangs above the front doors? When you do this with your children, you are modeling an important skill: observation. When children start to notice details, things that they can spot on their own (maybe solve a mystery!), they are engaging in short moments of coming up with their own hypotheses about how the world works around them. They test them and come up with new theories. They ask questions and engage in rich conversations about what they see and what they don’t see and why. They will need these skills all the time, in school or out, playing, or learning something new: especially reading.

Come back for more next week and explore part 2 with me!

Set-Up for Episode #19:

  • Wooden blocks of any kind that you can find
  • Markers and paper for documentation or observational drawings – the more children do this, the better they become at noticing
  • Clip boards (we used cardboard and paper clips because they are lighter to travel)
  • Empty boxes that I used to glue magazine pictures to make up scenarios
  • Front and back pictures
  • Clear, book tape
  • “Save” signs (that can be safely stored in old picture frames)

We usually go through our recycling bin to add ‘blocks’ that hold these pictures to add to their building adventures!

I label the shelves to make it easier for the children to clean up (they would rather leave their creations up forever, though!!). This offers a great opportunity for them to practice math through one-to-one correspondence (i.e.: one block to one place), as well as responsibility and team work – everyone joins in the game here: including us!

With plenty of time to explore, children come up with some really complex ideas.

The other side of the same building.

A house with a roof balanced on curved shapes.

And, with enough exploration, every area in their development finds space for expression as well! Yes, we’ve been bombarded by this request…

I often take out books on architecture from the library so they can appreciate different building styles and talk about what structures looked like many years ago, how schools are alike and different, public buildings, museums, etc.

Have fun and come back next week for more!

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Have fun and Go Beyond The Classroom!


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