Blog Entry: 2nd March 2022
The value of block play can be embedded into every single part of our children's development. Block play is developmental, for it progresses as a child discovers and applies new possibilities. It offers natural exposure to likenesses and differences of shapes, counting, sizes, and amounts. Block play becomes a doorway to discovery of maths, technology, engineering, design and even architecture. It offers a vast range of experiences for every child in a range of scenarios. As children naturally group and regroup during block play, interaction leads to cooperation in ideas, construction, and problem solving. Imagination is integral to block play. Children learn to create, bouncing ideas off one another and thinking for themselves, thus fulfilling the ultimate goal of education.
In Harriet Johnsons book, The Art of Block Building she lists the stages in which block play develops;
Stage 1: Blocks are carried around, not used for construction.
Stage 2: Children mostly make rows, either horizontal on the floor or vertical (stacking).
Stage 3: Bridging: two blocks with a space between them, connected by a third block.
Stage 4: Enclosures: four blocks placed to enclose a space.
Stage 5: When facility with blocks is acquired, patterns and symmetry can be observed.
Stage 6: Naming of structures, with names relating to function of building.
Stage 7: Buildings often represent actual structures children know from real life or stories. Strong impulse to dramatic play around the structures.
As keyworkers we often see these stages during the childrens time here with us, as each stage develops the children's imagination enhances and their structures become more and more intrinsic. Our role as key workers during Block play is often to be quietly present and an enthusiastic bystander, ready to ask open ended questions that begin with 'why do you think' or 'what if'. We are often ready to provide accessories or resources that might add play value.
Friedrich Froebel said over two centuries ago, “Each is a self-contained whole, a seed from which manifold new developments may spring to cohere in further unity. They cover the whole field of intuitive and sensory instruction and lay the basis for all further teaching. They begin to establish spatial relationships and proceed to sensory and language training so that eventually man comes to see himself as an intelligent rational being and strives to live as such.”