Language and block play

The Snow Queen's palace

Have you ever noticed how much children talk while they build with blocks? I thought I knew all the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales but apparently I missed one! Last week I learned there’s one about the Snow Queen. The children in a Kindergarten I visited had just heard it and were busy at block play. They were talking non-stop: “We need some icicles!” “I need a triangle.” “Go get one more, get two more!” “Shall we make this really, really, really pretty? Like gold!” “I’m making the Snow King’s castle, because it’s bigger!” “I’ll be the queen and you be the king.” “The turrets are managing to get up.” “The turrets are climbing!” “Can somebody move that there? No, no, not like that!” Fetching the book, one child paged through to a picture of the Snow Queen’s sleigh which several commenced to build. “Can you help me get four of these little curves?” “We have to make it higher.” “Ooh, I’m sorry!”

It certainly was a case of “Every Child a Talker”, with the exception of a child who’d just arrived from Singapore and knows no English. However, he and another four-year-old shared a definite common goal. They studied the book, balanced long blocks on shorter ones to build a fence round themselves, and then constructed a chunky throne to sit on side by side. The blocks themselves were their language.

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