Spectra Suggestions for Use

To understand children's learning with open-ended materials, it is often useful to step back and observe their spontaneous play and problem solving. Children use blocks in a variety of ways:

  • To create designs - arrangements with no particular function.
  • To build functional structures - things that move, shelters, and enclosures.
  • To build representations of real objects - sailboats, animals, and people.
  • To rearrange patterns - recombining a given set of blocks into different arrangements.
  • To act out narratives - using the blocks to tell a story.
  • To encounter and solve problems

Children will almost always start building on their own and may often build for long periods of time with great concentration. We have included some suggestions for use to further stimulate their ideas. However, we encourage parents and teachers to let children take the lead.

+ Language Development
  • What pieces can you see through? What do you see when you look through the clear prism?
  • Can you tell me about the long house that you made on the top of the box? How can I get inside of the house? Does anyone live under the house?
+ Mathematical Thinking
  • What kind of shapes can you make using four prisms? How many different kinds of triangular shapes can you make with the triangular prisms? Can you make a cube with the triangular prisms?
  • What are the different shapes that you see on the faces of one triangular prism? Can you make a big square? A small square with just two prisms?
  • How many different ways can you put the prisms back into the box?
+ Physical Knowledge
  • What happens when the sunlight goes through the clear prism? What do you see? What happens if you turn the prism around? What would happen if you put two prisms together? What happens if there is no sunlight? Will you see anything?
  • What is the sturdiest tower you can make using all of the wood and clear prisms and the box? Why do you think your tower is sturdy?
+ Aesthetic Ideas
  • I wonder what kinds of designs you can make with the color and natural prisms ? Which of your designs do you like the best?
  • Let's look at some books about skyscrapers. Do you see any buildings that have color patterns on the outside? Can you find any designs that are like the ones you made?
+ Imaginative Play
  • I made a lot of boxes that you can sit on. The tops of the boxes have colored pillows.
  • This looks like a flower with lots of petals of different colors.
  • It looks like a lot of diamonds if I put the prisms in a pile. It's my treasure.

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