The first month to six weeks of school we explore the classroom piece by piece. Each area of the classroom opens slowly to ensure that children understand what materials are in each area, how to care for them, and how to put them back away when the day is done. I introduce something new by way of a guided discovery. I hide a few items in a box, and then I shake the box while the children make guesses. The first day of school the guided discovery box was filled with blocks. Once we opened the blocks we talked about the different items, gave examples of how to play with them, and then we took a tour of the block area to see where everything was located.
The first few days of school we all played with the same item together and then gathered back at our circle to discuss what we made that day. Here is H with his “forest” he made from our tree blocks. The picture at the beginning of the post is D and M exploring our new arch blocks with Mrs. Trayln! They were sending little matchbox cars back and forth under the tunnel they created together.
Above is a picture of the whole group exploring different items from the block area while our families “watched” us in the photos.
The peg dolls and professional people are fun to stand up, organize, and of course add another dimension to our block area.
Block play is an integral piece of early childhood education. There are many studies and articles written about the benefits of block play and all of the learning that takes place when children are left with materials and their limitless imaginations! If you are interested in reading more about the benefits of block play here are some fabulous articles:
I added these fantastic new tunnels to our block area this year! They are actually concrete forms from the hardware store. They come in a set of three tubes that fit inside each other. They are great for the block area to provide ramps, tunnels, or even skyscrapers! They also provide the chance for gross motor play in the classroom. They are heavy for a small child, and give children a chance to get their bodies moving inside when they are manipulating these new tubes!
It was great fun to watch and observe the students get right to work with the tubes. We discussed safety, carrying techniques, and how to pull them apart and put them back together. Then they got right to work making interesting ramps with tunnels and other systems off of the ends. There was debate about which cars will go the furthest, the height in which to put the tunnel, and lots of other thought provoking questions about ramps and the force of gravity. I can’t wait to see what else we learn from these enormous tunnels!
Here is A sending a matchbox car down the ramp, and then running to check and see it at the end. This same scenario was played out again and again!
Then we moved our ramps to the stairs to see what some added height would do to our ramps and cars! The ramps provide a lot of opportunity for team work, learning about turn taking at the top of the ramp, sharing cars and trucks that come down the ramp, and negotiating the ramp placement with other students. You can see H and A are working together to create a large tunnel with a smaller white house gutter off the end of the ramp.
All of these photos were taken the first few days of school! I can’t wait to see what other block cities and ramps are created as the year progresses.