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May 8, 2013

Encouraging Open-Ended Block Play

Blog1Block play is a major contributor in a child’s growth. Hand strength, coordination and balance are among its physical benefits while imagination, creativity and reasoning are also in force. When children work with a friend to plan construction or explain their building to someone, they are also exercising and building language skills. With all of these benefits, it’s important to keep interest levels high in the block center. So, how can we make blocks more engaging?

Here are a few tricks to try in combination with the thematic suggestions in your curriculum:

  • Ask Open-Ended Questions – Sometimes children just need a quick open-ended question to spark their curiosity. “I wonder if…” or “How do you think…”
  • Provide Clipboards, Paper and Writing Utensils – Give children tools to plan, reason, and imagine. Some children are natural born planners and providing them this opportunity to create a visual before diving into construction is an excellent way to complement their learning style.
  • Add Natural Objects – Bring the outside world in by incorporating natural objects such as river rocks, leaves, flowers, smooth pieces of woo, pine cones, shells and photos of the outdoors.Blog2
  • Take Photos of Children Construction – Photos help children reflect on their experience. These resources can engage meaningful conversations about what went well and what they may want to work on again. The photos could be displayed in the block center or added to a permanent binder at the block center. This resource could inspire future projects, remind children of how creative they were, and boost confidence for the next original project. The “Block Book” could also simply serve as a memory book for children to share and enjoy.