Stackbuilder 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
  • Close your eyes. How do the wood pieces feel? Are they smooth? Can you bend the pieces? Are they bumpy? Soft? Hard? Thick? Thin? Do they all feel the same?
  • Can you tell me about the building you are making?
  • What is the building used for? Who lives in it? Is it warm inside? What do the people or animals do in the building? Tell me a story about your building and I will write it down.
+ Mathematical Thinking
  • Can you make steps with the pieces? Are all the steps the same height?
  • I see you made a pattern with the pieces: color, natural, color, natural. What would the next piece be?
  • If you put all the pieces end to end, how far do you think they will go? Try it. Does it go farther than you thought?
  • Can you make two buildings that are the same (equal) height? Can you make one building higher than the other?
+ Physical Knowledge
  • I see you made a seesaw. What made the seesaw balance?
  • Can you make two pieces lean against each other without falling?
  • What is the strongest building you can make? What makes it strong?
  • Are there different ways to make these blocks stay together?
+ Aesthetic Ideas
  • I see you made a beautiful wall with all the colors touching each other.
  • I made a floor for my house with all the wood showing. I like the swirls in the wood and the shapes the swirls make.
  • When I shine the flashlight through the round windows of the house, it makes round shadows.
+ Imaginative Play
  • This is a helicopter with moving propellers that can go very fast.
  • I made a striped snake that lives in the jungle. He has green and yellow stripes so he can hide behind the trees.
  • I made goggles so I can swim underwater with the jellyfish.

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