When you come into a pre-k classroom, you might witness what appears to be chaos. Toys everywhere, noise, everyone doing something different. To the untrained eye, this might be concerning. To us teachers, it is magic in the making! In the education world, we call it free-choice centers and it is just what it sounds like. Students get to choose an activity that they enjoy doing (space permitting). While there are benefits to all of the free choice centers that we offer, the blocks are always a favorite and do so much for little minds.
During block play, students are working through challenges, communicating, using their imaginations and creativity, working on spatial awareness, and so much more. It’s always fun seeing what each child decides to build with the blocks. Some choose to make houses and castles, some whole entire villages and streets, and some even make bunk beds for their stuffed animals. Today, they were all making race tracks and racing toy cars. Their imaginations take them so many creative places. Kids consider this play and they don’t even realize that they are learning and growing.
Here are some ways that children are learning through blocks:
- number concepts
- spatial sense
- vocabulary and language- students can explain their creations and learn new words for what they are using and making
- understanding of books and other texts (when books are present in the block area)
- print and letters-depending on what students are making, they can create street signs and labels for their work
- physical science- balance, texture, pulleys, mirrors, etc.
- provide props that help students connect to their environment
- life science
- spaces and geography- students are solidifying their understanding of how streets and neighborhoods work by recreating them with blocks
- when building villages, students also explore people and how they live
- drama- students might create something and then act out a part to go with their creation
- visual arts- students can create whatever they want!
There are so many possibilities when it comes to the block center. Sometimes students might be guided with suggestions from the teacher, and sometimes they might create something completely from their own mind. Whatever it is that they choose, we know that they are gaining so much through those simple wooden pieces.