Block play

playing with blocks

Osian's story

We all know that block play is good for children, but here’s part of an email we received from Vikki Curtis in Wales which portrays just how powerful constructive play can be. 

 

“When Osian started nursery at 3 years old, his use and understanding of language was very good. He also had excellent understanding of social language cues and non-verbal communication and extensive vocabulary, but he made most of his sounds at the front of his mouth. Osian quickly realised that he couldn’t be understood all of the time and as a result developed an anxiety stammer.

 

Osian was referred for speech and language therapy. By this point he was stammering most of the time and started “giving up” in the middle of sentences. His therapist worked with him to find ways to help his talk and had advice for me as his parent. We tried all of the strategies… but the most successful one was almost an accident!

 

Playing with blocks has always been one of Osian’s favourite activities. He loves to envelop and disconnect things, and blocks provide the opportunity to do both.  He would play for extended periods of time, building structures, hiding toys inside and then knocking them all down! Eventually, we noticed something…

 

Osian didn’t stammer when he was playing with blocks. He would talk to himself – fluently. No stammer. At all. Blocks gave him the opportunity to lose himself so completely in the play that anxiety disappeared. He also had plenty of opportunities to rehearse what he wanted to say. He realised that he was speaking without a stammer and used this new found confidence to talk in other situations.

 

Osian has now been discharged from speech and language therapy. He no longer stammers - but he does still play with the blocks!”

 

Read more about the many ways that block play supports learning and development.

 

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boy and girl play with Outlast blocks by Storage unit

New Outlast point of play storage!

Effective, durable storage is a must for any outdoor area. The new Outlast storage unit crafted from rot resistant Accoya® wood provides a child-safe, convenient space for your Outlast blocks and crates. Additional resources, such as watering cans, sand toys, outdoor mark-making materials or natural loose parts fit too.

 

“The Outlast storage unit is perfect for us as it can be positioned permanently at the point of play,” notes Heather Forsdick, a kindergarten teacher at Herne Hill School. “ It allows the children to access resources while they're playing….. take things out and then put them back as well, which is fantastic.” See how children at Herne Hill School interact with their new Outlast storage unit and blocks in this 3 minute video.

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nursery aged child playing with unit blocks and village vehicle

A solid foundation for STEM

For a five-year-old, the practical application of science, technology, engineering and maths is something they can only absorb through experience.

There is no better material to engage a child in STEM learning than unit blocks. In this new 3-minute video, Hal Melnick and other educators explain why every early years setting and school that is serious about STEM education needs to have a strong block play component in their curriculum. Watch now.

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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.

Evelyn

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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! 

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