Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tips for Setting up a Block Center in your Home

Blocks are a timeless toy that can last a child a life time. Recently, I have been doing a lot of reading on the importance of setting up a block center in your home.

My Dream Block Center:
The blog Preschool Playbook has an excellent article on the importance of block centers. In it, she says,
"Here is a center that involves the whole child. There is physical attributes because of the actual process of picking up, carrying, and building of the blocks. There is the intellectual aspect because of the thought process going into the creation of the architecture. Then there is the social aspect of conversing with neighbors, working around and with others, and building what they know. Finally, the emotional aspect of creating something unique and beautiful."

Here are some tips in setting up a block center in your house:
1) Out of the Way: Find a place for the block area that is out of the way of main traffic such as a corner away from a doorway.
2) Give kids some space: As a mother of two young toddlers I know that most fights seem to start when another chid invades someone's personal space. So when planning your block center make sure there is plenty of room for several children to play side by side at the same time.
3) Make sure they can see and reach the blocks: Use shelves no taller than the children to store the various blocks and toys used to play with the blocks. This will encourage them to use and get out the blocks. Make sure and put the heavier items on the lower shelves so that toddlers can get them out without hurting themselves.
4) Label your Blocks: Label each place on the shelf with a picture of what goes there. Put the picture right on the shelf and show the block with the long side to the front. If you do this the children will easily see how to clean up.
5) Provide Toys which Support Block Play: Provide small toys which will help children think of creative things to do with the toys. Some ideas are small people, animals, little trucks, airplanes, small barns, houses and parking garage. Keep the small toys in separate boxes each sorted and labeled with a picture of the toy that goes there.
6) Provide a Visual Border: Put out a flat rug that provides a solid, stable base for block building. The block will also serve as a visual reminder for where the kids can play with the blocks.
7) Provide different kinds of blocks: large cardboard blocks, unit blocks, dublos, small cubes, etc. Each organized in their own spaces. You don't have to bring all of these blocks out at once. As small children can become easily overwhelmed by too many choices. But it can be fun to rotate out different blocks from time to time to inspire new creative play.
8) Encourage children to help you clean up the blocks after play: This will teach them sorting skills as they learn to put the various toys back in their proper places.

The block center in my home could use a lot of work. Above is a picture of my dream block center. Do you have a block center? And if so, how does it rate? Feel free to post a link to a picture of your block center in the comments section of this post. I would love to see them to gain some inspiration.

Stay tuned for pictures of my new block center.



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