A row and a tower; these are two words we use to describe building and stacking blocks. As we introduce our new big idea* of building and stacking, our Shale children have been using different shapes and sizes to explore multiple ways of building and stacking objects. After a couple of days, we noticed that some of our Shale children physically examined the blocks; banged blocks together, tasted the blocks as a sensory material, and filled containers with small blocks, usually dumping them out afterwards. With so many ample opportunities to build, some of our Shale children explored building horizontally, placing the blocks side by side in a row, and the progressing to stacked towers.
To provide a rich building and stacking experience for Shale children, we set up the block area large enough so it can easily accommodate the number of children using the space. We also removed the big black baskets and lined the blocks in a row so they could see them clearly. This allowed our children to retrieve the blocks they desired off the shelves and return to their work space. As you’ve likely noticed, we’ve also been providing multiple styles of blocks, beginning with large magnetic blocks, now moving towards smaller blocks and natural loose parts*. This is to broaden their concept development and build on their natural imagination.
Something that has really blown us away as educators, is the amount of vocalizations that have been emerging since we began this journey into stacking and building. Shale children’s personalities seem to be flourishing as they get comfortable with the new materials and each other’s play styles. We have seen some children bond and begin to play together instead of playing side by side in the same space. Exclamations like “wow“, “oh no“, “no” and “yes” are beginning to be heard for the first time during interactions with educators, peers and materials. Some of our children’s imaginations are also becoming more noticeable during this play. Recently, we added a loose parts shelf. Using one of the blocks, Felix and Ellie immediately imagined it as a telephone. “Hello” they said together. It’s amazing to see how basic stacking and building play can impact something as big as communicative practices.
“Children learn conventions of their languages.
- Growing in their implicit understanding of the conventions of language.
- Growing in their understanding of vocabulary.
- Developing confidence in using language(s).
Children extend ideas and take actions using language.
- Using language to express thoughts, feelings and ideas.
- Using language to make friends, share materials, structure, negotiate, and create imaginary worlds.
- Using language to ask for help or information, argue, persuade, celebrate, or instruct.”
Makovichuk, L. (Play, participation, and possibilities: An early
learning and care curriculum framework for Alberta.
Retrieved from page 52.
We as educators and families can notice, name and nurture all of these growth cues during daily play. Have you noticed anything changing in your child’s vocabulary or personality?
Have a wonderful weekend full of language and stacking!
Sarah, Michelle, Young and Cassi
A big idea is an overarching idea or meta-topic that is not like a theme, and encourages children to build theories. It unifies, inspires, and resonates with children, an idea that is rich with possibilities and permits educators and children to work together in many ways. There are three underlining concepts that are important to understanding big idea; inspiration, connection and observation.
In play, loose parts are materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken apart and out back together in multiple ways. They are materials with no specific set of directions that can be used alone or combined with other materials.