Thursday, January 28, 2016

Block Play, PreK Style

I have a very creative group of children this year and would love to share some great pictures from the past few weeks. 

We have a rather large area for block play which I think is really important. I love that they can spread out and build without the confinements of a small space. Four children are allowed in this center at one time. Sometimes they work together to build and play. Sometimes they work alone. The two little girls who built this structure started out working separately, one with the cardboard blocks and one with the cups. As their structures got bigger they decided to merge them together and the result is this awesome castle!

You often see non- traditional items in my block center such as cardboard tubes, newspaper and tape; playing cards, cardboard boxes and these great cups. As part of adding STEAM activities in the classroom, I love to give kids "lose parts" to create with. It's hard to be exceptionally creative with unit blocks that are basically one of about 10 shapes and all about the same size. So I love the variety of adding every day items that they may have in their homes.

Look at the wonderful organic shapes created in this picture! And do you see the pattern of the clear and silver cups in the picture on the right? The cups are a couple of different sizes and several colors. Some of my kiddos like to build with just one or two colors others don't really care what color they use. The best part of building with plastic cups... cups are cheap! Parents can donate them! and they stack nice and neat and don't take up a lot of storage room!! I added these cups after Thanksgiving and have had to throw away only 7 or 8 cups. The usual reason is someone tries to step over them and accidentally steps on one. 

I also don't tell the children HOW to play with anything I add to the center. Often what I envision for materials is no where near what the kids come up with!

Disregard the blurry child in the middle of the next picture (It's hard to crop out something in the middle of a picture) but look at the great structure these 2 little boys created. The long brown pieces of wood are from a mini blind that I shortened up. I had like 15 pieces that I removed from the blind and you know I had to save them and add them to my block center! lol They make great roads and bridges. 
I obviously give my kids the time they need to build. I try to warn them if clean up time is getting close so they can complete their creations. 

They also come and get me when they are finished building so I can take a picture. I try to make a big deal out of their work, by asking them questions and taking pictures. It's sometimes hard to teach preschoolers to respect each others work. I think taking pictures, and being genuinely interested in what they have done not only teaches the creators to be proud of their work but helps with the respect of the other kids. It's a proud teacher moment when the kiddos are proud of not only their own work but that of their peers. When a child comes running over to tell me I have to come see what another child has just made, makes it all worth while.  
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