Block play

child playing with blocks as teacher watches

The adult’s role in block play

Do you have unit blocks in your setting? How do you use them? Many things can affect children’s experience with blocks, but possibly the most important influence is the interest of the adult.

“I think one of the most effective things a teacher can do to facilitate deep block play, is to be an active observer,” says Elise Bauer who works at City & Country School, founded by Carolyn Pratt, the inventor of the unit block.

So what does this look like in practice? Here is time tested advice from educators at the City & Country School, who believe in the power of block play. Watch the video.



STEAM with Block play

tech-nol-o-gy  [tek-nol-uh-jee]   
1. The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry.
2. Machinery and devices developed from scientific knowledge.
3. The branch of knowledge dealing with engineering or applied sciences. (Oxford Dictionary)


Educators recognise that a balance is needed between digital learning and practical experience, and hands-on experimentation often leads to complicated engineering and "machinery developed from scientific knowledge”. Equipment that is durable, modular and fosters curiosity and imagination supports STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Maths). If this is so, block play is at the foundation of technology.


Take a look at this steam engine built out of Unit blocks by two five year old boys. It makes you wonder what they will be building in 20 years! 
Outlast sleigh

Blocks are Teachers

Blocks are teachers, not just toys. Block play offers a vast range of experiences, enriching every area of the curriculum and supporting child development. For over 100 years educators have been  promoting the use of blocks in early childhood classrooms as a powerful learning tool. Because modular blocks are so versatile, they offer endless opportunities for a child’s imagination to soar while discovering basic math and science principles, practicing problem-solving techniques and social skills, and building a solid foundation for future education.

Enjoy St Nick's sleigh built by these children with our new Outlast blocks.

Happy Christmas from us all at Community Playthings!

Block play in Liverpool

Celebrating 70 years
of block play

A block play revolution has taken hold in Liverpool, drawing in dozens of settings and benefiting thousands of children.  In order to encourage language development and creativity, the Liverpool Council set out to inspire practitioners about the value of block play. Block play training sessions were organised and Community Playthings blocks given to each setting.  All of the participants have been amazed by the impact this simple, yet powerful, resource has had on their children.

Next year is 70 years since Community Playthings made our first Unit block; here is a celebration of block play in Liverpool.

Child painting with natural objects

Painting without paintbrushes

If art is all about process, why limit creativity by limiting the tools? Add an innovative twist to your next painting project by omitting the store-bought paintbrushes.

On an outdoor table or painting easel, provide paint, paper and clothes pegs. Demonstrate how clipping a flower, leaf or bunch of grass in a clothes peg instantly produces a natural paintbrush. Then send the children off in the yard to scavenge for their own unique collection of bristles.

Your budding artists will be quickly captivated as they discover how the patterns and textures of nature can be incorporated into their masterpieces. One child in my class was fascinated by the splotchy print of a clover flower, another by the firework effect of sweet gum seed pods. Another child spent most of his time simply clipping his large collection of brush-making materials in and out of the clothes pegs – the actual painting was merely an accessory.

Enjoy the summer!

P.S. For outdoor art projects, the Help yourself trolley can be wheeled outdoors.

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