The block area is always a favorite play area of the classroom. The students love being able to build with different toys and materials, but after a while, they get bored with the same materials and ideas. This is when misbehaviors occur. You need to provide students with inspiration, new materials, and ways to extend their play. This blog post will share several block area ideas to do just this.
Students love having block area ideas and models to inspire them in their building. I love to pull models from real life buildings. In the block area, I put out these cards and students enjoy flipping through the buildings to see examples of real buildings they might want to replicate. I also include examples of areas in the world they might want to recreate – like a farm, a store, a zoo, etc. This helps students get new ideas for their building, because after a while they can get stuck in the same routines of building. You can also get good models from books. Including books in their play area not only connect literacy to the work they are doing, but they also provide wonderful examples of buildings! Like these books in my Building Book Buddy Bag!
Other block area ideas to enhance and deepen student play includes providing students with a way to plan out their building. I like to have out these different planning sheets in the block area so that students can plan out their structures with their peers. In addition to connecting literacy to this play, planning out their buildings helps improve executive functioning skills. Students need to decide what they want their finished product to look like, what the steps are that they will need to take, and what materials they will need. Planning out their play is a really valuable step to deepen their play and make it more purposeful.
Every now and then it’s good to switch out the materials you offer to your students in the block area. This helps keep the play fresh and the students engaged, and it helps to eliminate misbehaviors. So what other block area ideas and materials can you include? You can always add in more natural objects, like little sticks/logs, pinecones, small rocks, etc. You can also add in small cars, road signs, people figures, animals etc. All of these ideas can help guide the play to different themes. You can also pair different materials that aren’t typically found in the building area, like coloring tools, recycled paper or paper towel holders, puppets, felt dolls, etc. Any time that you can put out something that the students are not expecting, engagement goes up and their play deepens.
Reflect with students
Whenever you introduce new materials or observe that your students’ interest has dwindled in an area, reflect with the students. Ask them what materials they’d like to see or how the play is going with the new materials. Check in with them on how they are using materials- are they being appropriate and expected? Encourage them to share ideas with each other to inspire them with new ideas.
When interest in the block area is dwindling or you are looking to shake things up, check out these block area ideas to increase engagement and more purposeful play. Students will love having examples of real buildings to model their building after. Students will also enjoy planning out their structures and having new and exciting materials to try out. Still having trouble with this play area? Reflect with your students on why that might be! Work together to find a solution!