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Books and blocks

Many teachers in an early childhood learning center have an area in the classroom where children can play with blocks. Blocks offer a wealth of opportunities for children to experiment with design patterns, measurement, and the use of spacial relationships with objects. Blocks also come in a variety of colors, textures, and shapes. Block areas also offer an extra space in the early education classroom for placing books. Books in the block center can add interest to reading and provide inspiration for creative building. Play is the basis for developmentally appropriate teaching in early education classrooms, and block play with books can give extra opportunities for learning basic skills.

Creative block constructions
dreamstime photos

Early childhood educators at Primrose Early Learning Center in the Lakewood Ranch area of Sarasota use play as the basis for teaching early skills. Block areas are available to the children with a variety of blocks and accessories for creative play and construction. The block area has enough materials to ensure that children can choose to play alone or work cooperatively with a friend to construct interesting block structures. Books are often added to the block area at Primrose to add interest to block constructions. The block area in the classrooms at Primrose are available to the children throughout the day with interesting books to inspire creative building. There are a wealth of books that can be coordinated with block constructions. Children will easily use these books to build towns, farms, or other constructions that the stories might inspire. The books featured in my article are only a few selections that can add to your block area in a classroom or in your child's play area at home.

*"The Giant Jam Sandwich" by John Vernon Lord is a classic read-aloud that can add inspiration for block constructions. 4 million wasps invade the small village, and the villagers must find a way to drive them out. They decide to bake a giant loaf of bread and spread stick jam on the slices to trap the wasps. Building the village with its bakery is a way to coordinate this fun book with block construction.

*Peter's Chair" by Ezra Jack Keats is an award-winning classic that can also be placed in a block area. Peter is building a block tower in the story, and children might like to construct the same tower. Replicating the tower that Peter is building in the story is a great activity for children to practice observation of details.

*Rosie's Walk" by Pat Hutchins offers another fun story to place in a block area. Rosie leaves her chicken coop to take a walk with a sneaky fox following behind. Rosie is unaware of the fox, and her walk around the farm leads the fox on great adventures. Rosie's obstacle course creates a great block construction.

Add books to your block area and create learning activities that will enhance both reading and block play. Check out the included video for advice on how a block area in an early childhood education area can lead to building and creating in later grades.