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The construction center, is often referred as the "block area"-It's a place for children to engineer new creations! In this area children are learning to manipulate new objects, and they are learning new math concepts such as size (Big & small), length, patterns and color. This learning space allows them to use their creativity to duplicate the world around them, it also provides them them social opportunities to cooperate and work together with their peers.
Children go through many stages of play in this area. Don't mistake a child who is learning the relationship between cause and effect (knocking over blocks) as a behavioral problem. Instead provide them with opportunities to make these discoveries in a safe environment, with appropriate materials.
Block area and loose part play at Tykes n Tots Daycare
You will observe young children learn many new skills in this space. You may notice a young child just starting out by carrying blocks. They will eventually start piling blocks, and move on to learning how to connect them to make simple 1-2 block structures, and roads. As they learn to manipulate the items in this space you may notice them creating more elaborate engineering designs such as bridges, and towers. Eventually you may notice them incorporating other items into their designs to re-create the world around them, which results in them creating elaborate structures.
Sheena W,'s block play area at Building Blocks Family childcare includes a variety of building materials such as cardboard blocks, soft blocks, people, cars, and farm animals. She swaps the materials based on their interests.
Selecting a place for building
Cassandra S. of Mud Pies and Butterflies has this great low surface perfect for building in her space.
Cathy M. of Happy Hands Early Learning Academy built this solid surface building area using a piece of 4'x4' particle board that she covered with self adhesive tile. It provides a sturdy building area in her carpeted space.
A living room floor makes a great construction area! If you are short on space consider a mobile tray that you can slide under your sofa (such as the one made bySmart Girls DIY ). You can equip it with a variety of blocks, and small world play items (Play people, animals, items to create landscapes, etc).
This is an important space for learning, and one that needs some room to spread out. This area is buzzing with action, so it's best to place it in an area that is away from quiet play (such as the reading area). A flat building surface is ideal. If you don't have a flat surface consider adding a low building surface to the space, or add a board to the space that will provide a sturdier base for building.
A low shelf is a great way to house the materials for this area. Small bins, or baskets can be used to hold different types of building materials. Blocks can be set on top of open shelving to allow children to visualize their materials and determine which items they want to select for their structures.
This construction space above belongs to community member Liza D.
If you don't have a separate daycare space, invest in furniture that will serve as toy storage in your shared space.
The IKEA TROFAST storage units featured in community member Susan L.'s space provide a sturdy surface with room to store building items above and below.
In addition to wooden unit blocks, you can add a variety of building, transportation and small world play items to this space (See some of my favorites here).
Heidi S. of Heidi Slaters Home Childcare has included a variety of accessories in her building area.
You can add a variety of items to create landscapes, and habitats as well. This is a great space to fill with recycled items, as well as loose parts for play.
Sheena W. provided the children atBuilding Blocks Family Childcare a variety of items to create their own snake aquarium.
Add print rich materials to your space
Provide materials for children to create their own signs, draw their building plans, and label their constructions. Add books to the construction space about building, or books that show photos of buildings. You can also hang posters, or photos from architectural calendars (*Money saving tip-you can often find these at the Dollar Store). You can also laminate photos of buildings (Check garage sales, and your thrift store for books). Grab my Let's build posters here.
Let's Build Poster Pack from Daycare Spaces and Ideas that club member Rachel M, adapted into building mats!
Use Enriching vocabulary
Discuss the materials the Children are using:
"I see you have blocks in your wagon", "I see you have added animals to your building"
Discuss the Structures they are building:
"That tower you are building is so tall", "I see you can fit several cars inside the tunnel you made", "That bridge looks strong"
Discuss building concepts:
"Those blocks just fell down", "I see you moved that block", "I see you stacked 3 blue blocks"
Show off their accomplishments
Add photos of the children's creations to the space. You can attach them to the wall, or turn them into a photo album or flip book. Another option is purchasing a digital photo frame that displays a slideshow of their constructions.
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