Nature Play On Vancouver Island

Nature Kindergarten On Vancouver Island

How to Make the Best Block Play Centre



The BC Early Learning Framework places an emphasis on process learning with materials that are open ended and encourage children to use their imagination and creativity. It is presented as some of the most important experiences to offer our young learners. I believe that block play is an excellent centre to provide your learners with both open ended play and provide opportunities to grow creativity, imaginative play alongside social emotional learning as children learn to play collaboratively. This is and has always been my favourite spot in my early learning classroom. I have made the biggest investment in time, money and program and I consistently see tremendous growth in children through this centre.

While there are substantial barriers to Kindergarten classrooms having a really great block centre, it does have the potential to become the largest, most popular and valuable learning centre in an early learning environment. It will also be your most expensive centre. It takes planning, a good time-line, a big budget and dedication to create. You need to know 
  • how to design the physical space to ensure a spacious area to build
  • introduce the centre so that the children competently and efficiently put blocks away 
  • extend the experience by listening and observing closely so that you can offer provocations to build upon their interests and experiences
  • adjust your schedule to reflect a play based program and provides large chunks of time for play so that planning, execution and play can happen
  • plan to refresh and extend learning with addition materials drawing upon your observations and listening
 I urge you to advocate with your school and school district to purchase the materials for Kindergarten and even grade one. You may need a time-line to purchase blocks over 2-3 years. You can adovcate a purchase with your PAC, staff committee (recommends resources) and even perhaps your school district.

Block Play In Kindergarten- a previous post on why block play is so important for young children and includes a 1 minute video of my classroom block area.

CREATE A SEPARATE AREA FOR BLOCK PLAY
I like to make my area as spacious as possible. This reduces children building too close together and accidentally knocking each others structures down. Also the more spacious it is, the more creative the children become. 

Last year we had to remove the block area rug and I loved how easy it became to expand the block play area on days when larger groups of children decided to build at the same time. I would suggest placing the block play area either in the centre of the room or in a large corner so that it is easy to expand the space as needed.

As your collection grows make sure that you add storage along with it. Most companies that sell wooden blocks also have shelving with sections to hold the unit blocks. Plan on using  the same containers to hold the accessories to create order and reduce visual clutter.



PRESENTATION DOES MATTER!!!!
Plan to have ample storage for the blocks so that the children can see the different sizes and shapes easily. They are more drawn to block play if they area is well organized and inviting with lots of space for building so be sure to reduce the clutter..

Think about how to corral the blocks, what containers to use, wooden boxes, large baskets crates may reduce the clutter and make clean up easier. 

CHOOSE A VARIETY OF BLOCKS
wooden unit blocks (full kindergarten set of many sizes and shapes)
stackers
tunnels or arches
gem blocks
mirror blocks
light blocks
keva blocks
mini hollow blocks
2' wooden blocks
SumBlox number blocks
magnet blocks


ADD INTERESTING ACCESSORIES
Adding block centre materials encourage children to use their imagination and maximize the value of block play.  Here are some suggestions for loose parts usually found around the classroom.
mirrors
cans
cd's
glass gems
peg people
rubber or wooden car track
cardboard tubes
wooden train set
fabric
empty thread spools
road making materials
cardboard
wooden boards
pinecones
sea shells
sticks
stones

Additional items to have close by
blankets
pillows
stuffed animals
dolls
fencing
farm
trees
artificial grass

TIME TO PLAY
Children need time to invest in their play so plan to embed playful learning in your program each day for a minimum of one hour excluding clean up.

STAGES OF BLOCK PLAY

DR. D KASHIN- here is a great information packet put together by Dr. Diane Kashin

Liz

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