What’s in the Block Area: Creating a Block Area for Open-ended Play

Best Blocks for Open-ended Play - Creating a Block Area for Your Homeschool - An Everyday Story

Best Blocks for Open-ended Play - Creating a Block Area for Your Homeschool - An Everyday StoryA couple weeks ago I shared a short video on Instagram of our block area. Our block area has changed a bit over the years to reflect Jack (6yrs) and Sarah’s (4 yrs) evolving interests and play. Tonight I thought I’d give you a bit of a closer look of how it looks now.

But Kate, we have blocks and my kids don’t play with them; they hardly get touched!

I hear you say. Well, even though, Jack and Sarah are quite avid builders and tinkerers now, it wasn’t always the way. I know, hard to believe, right? We too had blocks that just sat in the corner. I wrote this post some time ago about how I was able to encourage Jack at the time (Sarah was still quite young) to use blocks to explore an interest deeper. From there, Jack and Sarah’s interest with building, constructing, inventing and tinkering really took off.

Best Blocks for Open-ended Play - Creating a Block Area for Your Homeschool - An Everyday StoryOk, so on to the tour 🙂 For the storage I’ve used a Trofast wall shelf from IKEA. I like the drawers because the kids can see what’s in there easily and can (in theory) tidy up again when they are finished. There’s a large piece of perspex on the carpet for a stable building surface.

We’ve previously had a large piece of timber. I decided to change it for a piece of perspex. I like that it gives a nice sturdy building area without closing in the space. You can read more about using transparency in your learning & play spaces in this post.

There’s also two large metal bins for larger blocks. The metal bins are actually outdoor drink tubs – you know for having ice and drinks for parties – which I picked up really cheaply from the supermarket.

Jack is definitely the inventor but Sarah likes to create worlds and scenes when she builds. She likes to add little animals and people while she’s playing. The stunning Australian animal toys are from Little Joey Toy Co. There’s also a Grimms water & fire wooden stacker.

And here’s what’s in the tubs:

Best Blocks for Open-ended Play - Creating a Block Area for Your Homeschool - An Everyday Story Best Blocks for Open-ended Play - Creating a Block Area for Your Homeschool - An Everyday Story

Spielgaben curves, circles and blocksBest Blocks for Open-ended Play - Creating a Block Area for Your Homeschool - An Everyday Story Best Blocks for Open-ended Play - Creating a Block Area for Your Homeschool - An Everyday Story

Wooden fences and natural loose partsBest Blocks for Open-ended Play - Creating a Block Area for Your Homeschool - An Everyday Story Best Blocks for Open-ended Play - Creating a Block Area for Your Homeschool - An Everyday StoryInterlocking blocks (from Nova Natural Toys), tree blocks, wood chips (similar ones here) and felt balls

Best Blocks for Open-ended Play - Creating a Block Area for Your Homeschool - An Everyday Story Best Blocks for Open-ended Play - Creating a Block Area for Your Homeschool - An Everyday StoryLeft tub: light interlocking blocks and magnetic wooden blocks 

Right tub: large planks, small Rolka planks (similar here in US) and generic Jenga blocks

…..

So, why have loose parts in the construction area?

In many ways, I think it is important for us to rethink how we see materials; particularly natural materials and materials which are often seen as waste or of little value. I think we need to look at materials and consider how they might be repurposed, what potential does this material hold, what could be possible? How might these materials inspire children to interact, explore and engage?

Loose parts have a vast potential for creative exploration. They continually transform with the child’s interest and imagination. A child can manipulate loose parts, design and redesign them into whatever they desire.

…an environment which is rich in open-ended materials and real materials,  invokes children to experiment, engage, construct and invent; invites them to tinker, to manipulate and to play.

I wrote this post on the Theory of Loose Parts a while back if you wanted to read a little more. And if you’re looking for a little more inspiration for incorporating loose parts into your play areas, I can really recommend this book, Loose Parts: Inspiring Play in Young Children by Lisa Daly & Miriam Beloglovsky. The pictures alone will have you buzzing with ideas.

Best Blocks for Open-ended Play - Creating a Block Area for Your Homeschool - An Everyday Story Best Blocks for Open-ended Play - Creating a Block Area for Your Homeschool - An Everyday Story

So, that’s our construction area. 🙂 Jack’s mad keen on architecture (again) at the moment. If we’re Instagram buddies, you might have seen some of the buildings he’s been creating. Can you tell which famous building this one is?? Here’s a clue.

9 Comment

  1. Just beautiful. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Kate, you make my inner 5 year old ask with a fervent energy “can I play?” truly beautiful, somewhat magical. Well done mum, what a teacher!

    1. Thanks so much Jim 🙂 You know you are welcome to come and play any time.

  3. Thank you for your post. Very inspirational and just what I’ve been thinking lots about lately. I’ve offered blocks and loose parts in all sorts of ways and waiting and waiting for them to become more useful in play. Slowly my 2 year old is starting to show some interest and I always look back at your posts for inspiration.

  4. So lovely Kate! My girls would love all those blocks too. They weren’t initially keen on blocks when they were little until I too realised they needed MORE with them. They don’t just like to build with blocks, they want fabric and animals and natural loose parts and things to ‘decorate’.

  5. Thanks for this tour Katie! We have 2 peices of plywood to build on (of the 4 sides two are plain, one is painted with blackboard paint and the other is covered with Astroturf) but a sheet of Perspex sounds like it would be good as well!! I’m off to read your post about encouraging interests further through block play 🙂

  6. The open-ended play area of my dreams! Sharing this!

  7. Thanks for this article – it is informative not only on giving a child a chance to explore their inner creativity but also for parents to discover things around that can be a tool not just for child’s playtime but learning time as well.

  8. Hi Kate,
    Your posts are so inspiring! I have just created a construction corner and wondered, do you put books in your area too, or do you think they distract from the blocks?

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