We have recently made some changes to our main classroom (which we call the “Quiet Room”) to facilitate the children’s block play. Playing with wooden blocks is beneficial for children in many ways, and we have always given the children plenty of space for building in the Quiet Room.
Block play is important as it allows children to creatively express their own ideas. They can follow their current interests with the items they build, whether that’s castles, trains, farms, rockets or anything else they can imagine. Their self-esteem is enhanced by completing a project. They experience working together as a team, taking turns and sharing. They often form new friendships by working on ideas together. They negotiate, and cooperate. Block play also helps with mathematical development, including understanding of balance, symmetry, weights and measures. And not forgetting, their motor skills are given a work-out.
In order to give the children more space, and to provide a separate area for block play away from the other Montessori activities, we have now changed a small room adjacent to the Quiet Room to be the Block Room. This gives the children the chance to build in a clearly defined area, without interrupting other children’s work. We have also introduced a new method of ensuring that there are not too many children working with the blocks at any one time. The children already have their own handprint sign with their name on, which they use to identify their coat peg each day by attaching it to their peg with velcro. We have now set up a board outside the Block Room with space to attach three handprint names. If a child wishes to play in the Block Room, they need to look for a space on the board, then collect their handprint from their peg and move it to the board. If the board if full already with three names, they will need to wait until a space is available. When a child has finished with the blocks, they move their name back to their coat peg.
We are now planning to develop this further by creating a green board for children currently using the Block Room, and an amber board for children who are waiting for a turn. We’re excited to see how the children find these new developments. So far, they seem to love having a dedicated space for block play!