Video 21: Brick by Brick – Part 3.

Blocks from the recycle bin – we love this idea!

∞ Read the rest of this post for more ideas ∞

In part 3 you can see how these children used the recycling bin to build scenes with props and to build structures. They tested concepts of balance, symmetry, asymmetry, shape, etc.

This time there was a clear shift.  Their negotiations around space involved different as well as similar information. The boxes were much lighter than the wooden blocks and they enjoyed the “chin-high” limit waiver!

The weight can be an issue for some children so the lighter blocks are perfect for enjoying this experience! Nonetheless, because the boxes are lighter, they also get off-balance more easily resulting in tumbles way more frequently than with the wooden ones.

For more information about how important block play is for your children, visit these posts in this series:

Brick by Brick – Part 1, or Brick by Brick – Part 2.

I hope that your children enjoy using recycled cardboard boxes as much as ours do! Let us know how else they have used them. We love hearing from you!

Set-Up for Episode #21:

  • Recycled cardboard blocks of any kind that you can save and reuse
  • Props (i.e.: play people, cars, tree trunks, pebbles, paper, anything that adds to the wooden block scenario)
  • Markers and paper for documentation or observational drawings – the more children do this, the better they become at noticing details
  • Clip boards (we used cardboard and paper clips because they are lighter to travel)
  • Sealable bags with sand in them for added weight (as needed)
  • Tape – I usually tape the ends of the boxes
  • “Save” signs (that can be safely stored in plastic picture frames)

When they build their scenes, they use this rich opportunity to master old and new vocabulary and to create new plots and stories. Children are also practicing the art of “making sense” – even if their stories don’t make sense to adults, they are still sorting out how to  sequence their ideas in a beginning-middle-end pattern, much like the books they read. If they pull the save sign, the pattern quickly turns into something like this: beginning-middle-middle-middle-etc. And this is great! The process of building competence is always more important than the product. Sometimes they use these scenarios to re-enact books they have read, and at other times, they go with the flow.

These cardboard boxes are also great for making predictions based on what they learn from individual boxes. Which ones will fall over in one blow? Which ones do I need on the bottom to make sure my building can go as high as the sky? How long will it take before it falls over? How many blows, seconds, finger flicks? This way they are also using conventional metrics and experimenting with made-up ones. How many blows can I fit in one second? Great for learning about conversions as well!

Many of the principles the children used with the wooden blocks were transferred to cardboard blocks and vice-versa.

The save sign indicates that there is continuity in this work in progress.

When you visit Brick by Brick, Part 1, you will find a similar building with the same structural design in wood.

The children experimented with a variety of shapes here.

In the aftermath, one of the children called this “The Leaning Tower of Acton” – where they live, of course.

These tubs make cleaning up easier!

Look at the overhang to “keep the people from getting wet when it rains.”

They had to balance these boxes to build stairs.

Did you find this helpful? Share it with others! Need more? Let us know how we can help you enjoy this site with your children.

Have fun and Go Beyond The Classroom!


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