Students have many opportunities to use building materials during activity time. Open-ended tools allow for creative projects that can draw on children’s prior knowledge about structures and challenges them to use ideas from their learning in their work. Recently, some children made brick houses for the three little pigs.
Working with building materials allows for problem-solving and fine motor development. Students might consult building plans, pictures or books to create a structure or object. Hand strength is developed through the manipulation of various toys that need to be balanced, arranged or fitted together.
Building materials offers an opportunity for independent thinking and great concentration on self-selected tasks. Students can select their tools, plan their structure then share their work with peers and teachers. The latter helps develop oral communication skills and builds confidence. Some students even draw pictures of their work in their journals.
As students begin to socialize with peers at activity time, they may engage in cooperative projects, where they will have to discuss problems and work out solutions as a team. While creating sturctures, they will develop language skills that require asking to share, expressing althernative plans and commending friends who have been successful.
Recently students have been writing about their structures and displaying their work in the classroom. Such opportunities allow children to make literacy connections to their play opportunity.
Where one might see children playing with blocks, teachers see future architects, construction workers or building contractors.