Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Block play and the EYFS

As part of a series on core experiences I have looked at Block play and what children can gain from it as part of continuous provision.  Although the ideal is to have unit blocks, they are expensive and for many people they will still be on a wish list!!  I have mobilo, stickle bricks, duplo, mega-bloks, small wooden blocks, tree blocks and am waiting for a set of hollow blocks to arrive.  They have all been well-used by different children at different stages of their development; often they go back to them after a few months and use them in a more sophisticated way.  It is recommended to have an area for building in that isn't in the middle of the room so that structures don't get knocked down and the children can come back to them later if they want to.  This is hard to achieve in many settings due to space constraints - you could have a rolled up mat to put out to build on that provides a visual boundary that encourages the blocks staying on the mat and other children to walk around.  Without further ado, here are some things that block play supports children to explore:
  • PSED - A safe way to express emotions, particularly if children are small-world playing with block constructions.  Building something that wasn't there before and being able to express ideas in this way raises children's confidence and self-esteem.  Working together with other children provides opportunities for practicing turn-taking, sharing and negotiating.
  • CLL - The vocabulary that children acquire directly related to what they are doing is very important, introduced to them by an adult or older child; Talking about the blocks that children choose and what they are building supports conversational skills, sequencing and expressing ideas. For younger children the symbolic representation of a block or blocks as other items is an important step towards recognising words as having meaning. making signs for their block structures or drawing pictures of them before they have to be taken down to tidy away, introduces new ideas of what writing is about for children. Positional language such as on top of, next to, behind begins to be used.
  • PSRN - using language such as more than/longer than, cube, square, triangle.  Exploring ideas of half and whole, area and length are all important concepts that the children will be exploring.  If you have unit blocks for them to use they will see equivalency in action as four blocks that size are the same as one this size so fractions are seen and used before they are understood as being fractions!
  • KUW - Children investigate the scientific principles of balance, gravity, stability and cause and effect as they try out various structural arrangements.  They learn about how the blocks can be put together to make different types of structures.
  • PD - hand and finger strength is developed as children manipulate smaller blocks and the control of large motor muscle groups is refined during the use of large blocks such as hollow blocks.  Children can experience risk taking within a safe environment that is important for them to develop a sense of safety.
  • CD - Children can develop new ideas about the world around them and then bring their concept to life with the blocks, they are working with different textures and shapes often, combining sizes and colours of bricks and blocks to achieve new effects.  Imaginative problem-solving abounds as the children create a stage for their stories and imaginations to flourish in.  Children see their building from different perspectives as they stand up and move around, giving depth and understanding to buildings they see on the street.

Sources used are here.
How to make your own blocks!
Lots of ideas for setting up a block play area and resources you can use!
Brilliant article from Nursery World about blocks

1 comment:

  1. Little Explorers19 May 2010 at 14:20

    Hi Jen, Community Playthings have a cd that is freely available to order on the advantages of block play, I think there is also one of sand/water play . There is other "bath time" reading material that I find extremely interesting on nature and open ended resources too. Check out their website! Kind regards Hayley