The block area within our school environment is one of the most popular places of play for the children. They love creating structures using the many materials that the area offers.
One morning, we noticed some of the children gathering together in the block area. A large group of students formed and began working together to create structures. Their materials of choice were large Legos and small wooden blocks. They began creating ships, castles and spaceships. The children working with small wooden blocks explained that they were creating “a wall to block the bad guys.”
While building their structures together, the children also built upon important cognitive skills as they:
-Counted the amount of blocks they used. (This shows how the children practiced their math skills through counting and sequencing.)
-Came across challenges when their structures collapsed or fell apart. (The children engaged in problem solving and exploring physics.)
Working with blocks instills a more thorough understanding of geometry in regards to shapes and space (two-dimensional and three-dimensional). Blocks also serve as a wonderful tool for creative expression, allowing the children to put their imagination to use in whatever way they desire.
The team element added extra value to this experience because it allowed the children to improve upon their social skills. Working as a large group encourages children to practice communication and foster new relationships. Teamwork, addressing conflict in a respectful, purposeful manner and understanding the value of each individual’s role in a group are all important skills learned as a result of experiences like this one.
The skills and themes introduced within group exploration are very valuable in our philosophy:
“Contrary to some orientations to skilled performance by young children, the Reggio teachers emphasize achievement in personal expression and reflection on one’s own patterns of thinking. Instead of an early push to read, for example, teachers support a competent ability to communicate with others through speech and other means, so that one can make a contribution to the group.” -The Hundred Languages of Children: the Reggio Emilia Approach to early Childhood Education
For an in-depth explanation of the value of block play and how it relates to our philosophy, click here.