Blocks

Materials in a Reggio-inspired Home - Blocks from An Everyday Story
I really could never have predicted that when we gave Jack his first set of wooden blocks that he would derive so much joy from building. He spends time in our block area everyday creating; sometimes specific sculptures, other times seemingly just the cathartic repetitious motion of stacking. Through blocks, Jack and Sarah are learning to share and Jack is learning to manage his frustrations.

I really think blocks are the epitome of open-ended materials. They allow a child to express their own creativity while making designs, constructions and sculptures. Blocks require a child to think creatively, problem solve, negotiate and invent. They learn about concepts of balance, stability and symmetry through trial and error as they construct their buildings.

Blocks also encourage a child to think 3-dimensionally, especially with the addition of a mirror, blocks teach children about angles, height and perspective.

Open ended Materials - blocks - An Everyday StoryExtending Block Play

Every child plays with blocks in their own unique way and has therefore developed their own unique understanding of how blocks work. Through observation though, we can extend their block play. You might notice your child creating pretend worlds with the blocks and so adding some loose materials to the blocks will encourage them to deepen their play. Or you might notice your child building similar structures each time and so maybe some sketching to expand ideas or a demonstration will inspire them to use blocks in new ways.

Next time your child is playing with their blocks, sit and watch for a while. What are they doing?

  • Are they stacking into a single tower?
  • Are they building a line of blocks?
  • Are they building a 3-dimensional building with walls?
  • Are they constructing a flat blue-print type building?
  • or the tallest tower they can manage?

Reggio blocks - An Everyday StoryThese observations will give you insights into how your child approaches blocks. There is no right or wrong way, each child will play in a way that speaks to them, but we can provide opportunities for them to extend their play and continue to master new skills and understandings.

You could:

  • add loose materials based on your child’s current interests to the blocks
  • add a mirror to the block area to encourage your child to build 3-dimensionally by making the front-side of the blocks visible
  • if the blocks come with a booklet of suggested designs (like Rolka blocks or Lego), put these away for the moment so your child can discover and create on their own
  • provide a nice sturdy platform for them to build
  • provide as much space as possible to build – a big space encourages big work
  • ask your child about specific details of their building – “Is this Daddy’s work?” “What is this part here?”
  • before they crash it down, ask them if they would like to sketch their building so they can refer to it (and build upon) next time
  • if they are having difficulty building something, like maybe a bridge, bring out the clipboard again and ask them to draw their ideas. Use the plan to work through the problem together
  • don’t be afraid to teach them how to build something – Jack always revels in being taught a new skill or design idea

Our Blocks

Natural tree blocks - Weekend Project - An Everyday Story

Magna-Tiles:

100 piece translucent tiles $Au199 from Fishpond or $US120 from Amazon

Interlocking Blocks:

92 blocks for $US 49 Nova Natural Toys

Rolka Blocks:

50 blocks for $29 Rolka Creative Building Blocks

Imaginarium Wooden Blocks:

150 blocks/$US 29.99 Toys’r’Us

Bricks:

$5 K-mart (Jumbling Tower)

Discovery Light & Colour Blocks:

24 blocks/$46.15 ZartArt (Product Search -> Product Code -> WP020)

ZartArt have amazing materials but their online store isn’t the most user friendly. You can order their Play-based Catalogue. It is so inspiring.

Wooden Nesting Rainbow:

6 blocks/$US 39.51 Little Sapling Toys

Haba Wooden Marble Run:

$US 95.14 Amazon

Natural Tree Blocks:

Small and large branch blocks. Free from nature.

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15 Replies to “Blocks”

  1. The link for the discovery light and colour blocks doesn’t seem to work for me. I’ve tried searching with the product code on their site, but no luck…

    1. If it helps they are under ‘Play based’ –> ‘Sensory’ on page 2 🙂

    2. Hi Katrina 🙂
      ZartArt’s online catalogue isn’t the best I know but they have really amazing materials. Their catalogue is really inspiring.

      On their online store page, if you click Product Search and then enter WP020 (case sensitive) into the Product Code box it should come up.

  2. “I really think blocks are the epitome of open-ended materials.”
    absolutely agree with you Kate!!!
    great post!!

  3. We love playing with blocks, I just love having all different kinds of blocks at home! Our favorites for the moment are the wooden interlocking blocks, just love the way they look, feel and smell and Tegu blocks. The Tegu blocks are made of wood and have a magnet inside so it’s something different than our other blocks. I found an awesome Tegu creation on our night stand a couple of days ago before going to bed, it made me think of your remnants of play post 🙂

    1. Ohhh I just looked up the Tegu blocks. They look amazing! I know Jack and Sarah would love those. I almost bought some until Hubby asked whether the kids really needed MORE blocks. Sigh 🙁 I guess not. They do look amazing though.

  4. A wonderful post! THanks for reminding us all that the simplest materials are often the best! I also LOVE the log blocks – inspired to make those this summer!

    1. Thanks Lina. They really are the best, aren’t they? They are just little wooden blocks but they do so very much. I hope you do make some tree blocks, they are such a wonderfully organic addition to our block collection.

  5. We finally bought my son wooden blocks for christmas (at 2 1/2 years old), and he isn’t interested in them at all! I’m at a bit of a loss as to where to go with this – he plays a bit with his duplo, but not the blocks at all. I’ve tried playing beside him, but gave that up as he knocks what I’m doing down (fair enough). Any ideas? We’ve got a small apartment and they’re just in a basket with no “dedicated area”, I wonder if this might be the problem… Hmmm…

    1. Jack stacked and knocked down for quite a while. I think this is a developmentally normal approach to blocks for that age group and so very satisfying for little people. We’ve had blocks for Jack since he was about a year old I think and much the same as your little man, he wasn’t too interested in them for the longest time. It really wasn’t until I made a dedicated area for the blocks, something really appealing, that Jack started to build with them. From there I really wanted to encourage block building and so made a point of arranging the materials beautifully and invitingly and adding different natural and play materials every now and then to continue to invite Jack to build. I think this might have made a difference, Jack enjoys building with blocks everyday and his creations are really becoming more and more detailed.

      let me know how you go Hannah if you decide to set up a block area 🙂

  6. Hi I just started reading your blog and I’m addicted! Just made a trip to ikea this morning after staying up to read many I your old posts last night :p
    You have so many types of blocks, may I know whether you leave them all out at the block area at the same time?

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