By Phil Armstrong, Senior Leader, Early Excellence
Visit any Early Years classroom or outdoor area and the resource you are guaranteed to find is blocks.
In fact, whenever I’m asked what the first resource on my own wish list would be, it’s always blocks.
Whether these be large, small or combined with small world resources to create an inspiring ‘story factory’, blocks have long featured as a staple of our learning environments.
However, there are questions we need to ask about blocks, as there are with any resource we provide, including:
We all know that young children have a natural desire to construct and create, we see this every day as they use the blocks to build new worlds, amazing structures, collaborate on complex designs and bring their ideas to life, but where does this start and how does it develop over time?
Let’s consider for a moment, reflecting on the work of Harriet Johnson: The Art of Block Building, the types or stages of play we might see as children engage with these versatile resources.
Of course, we know that as part of their unique learning journey, children will explore, experiment and investigate resources in a myriad of ways and at different times, but these stages give us a clear framework for development.
We can see from these just how easily children of different ages can access block play to build their confidence and expertise as they spend more time accessing this open-ended resource.
Blocks offer a wealth of learning opportunities across the curriculum, especially when provided consistently year on year in a variety of contexts, and when combined with the potential for story telling through small world or role play. Here are just a few:
The key to unlocking the potential of any resource we offer is our understanding of child development and how children’s innate desire to experiment supports learning over time along with our knowledge of the curriculum.
Both of these strands guide how we interact with children as they experiment and create. As we play alongside children in the block area we:
As we role model we are able to:
As we sensitively raise questions our purpose is to:
And when we are able to mobilise ourselves to teach effectively in these ways, we can unlock the power of our provision.
It’s always good to take a step back and find time to review your block area(s), considering how your children are using the resources and how their skills are developing.
Reflect on your shared understanding of how blocks provide learning opportunities across your curriculum and consider how confident you and your team are at drawing on this understanding when interacting with the children.
Enjoy developing your block play!
At Early Excellence we are passionate about having the best possible learning environment for your children and supply carefully curated, high quality resources to help you equip your provision.
Take a look at our range of blocks here.
For help in developing all of your areas of provision, take a look at our Guides to Continuous Provision (3-5 years and 5-7 years) and Outdoor Provision.
Packed with detailed advice about how to develop every provision area and a full set of planning guides for you to use and adapt, you will find them invaluable.
If you are refreshing your learning environment fully, our free room planning service can help you to create an inspirational vision for your classroom space.
One customer from Brimington Manor Infants, Chesterfield, said, “The classroom plans are fantastic. They really helped me to look at my space with fresh eyes. I am buzzing with ideas and can’t wait for our classroom to arrive.”
We also have our Planning Your Environment webinar available, where you can develop your vision for a vibrant learning environment and review and evaluate your current classroom layout.
Find out more about Early Excellence.
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