Thanks to Friedrich Froebel and Caroline Pratt, blocks have been a part of early childhood classrooms for more than 150 years. Since the mid-1800’s, children have been playing with a material that hasn’t changed much; blocks have withstood the test of time. Used for many different purposes in the classroom, particularly construction play, blocks are struggling to maintain their presence in early childhood classrooms across the country as the stresses of standardized testing become more and more a part of our children’s daily routine (Miller & Almon 2009). Turning back the tide and providing the “necessary content through playful learning and provide(ing) time for the spontaneous free play that is so crucial to social emotional and academic growth” is the challenge presented to teachers in 2016 (Hirsh-Pasek, Golinkoff, Berk and Singer, 2009).
Block play supports children in a variety of areas of development and thus should be a universal material in the hands of every child, in every early childhood classroom. According to Rosanne Hansel, author of “Bringing Blocks to the Kindergarten Classroom,” “One of the most important features of blocks is that they are three-dimensional: they offer children ways to understand shape by exploring and manipulating them with their hands.” Children’s physical development is promoted in block play by offering opportunities for hand-eye coordination, visual perception, spatial awareness and balance. Blocks also provide support of children’s cognitive development across the domains of language, literacy, science and math.
Join SLC this Wednesday, October 12th from 4-6 p.m. in a hands-on session and explore how block play impacts child and early literacy development. This presentation will also encourage teachers to become familiar with the stages of block play, learn ways to organize and manage a block center and explore ways to keep block play interesting throughout the school year. Register on our website: http://literacy.rice.edu/workshops-rice
Hansel, Rosanne Regan, “Bringing Blocks Back to the Kindergarten Classroom.” Young Children, March 2015, pgs 44-51.
Hirsh-Pasek, K., R. Golinkoff, L. Berk, and D. Singer. 2009 A Mandate for Playful Learning in Preschool. Oxford University Press.
Miller, E., & J. Almon. 2009 Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School. College Park, MD: The Alliance for Childhood.
Authored by Sharon Dworaczyk, Rice University’s School Literacy and Culture