Thursday, August 11, 2005

Stages in Block Building

  • Carrying - blocks are carried around, not used for construction. This is the activity of the very young child. (It is also the occasional activity of many adults, though they might not recognize it as such.)
  • Rows & stacks - children make horizontal rows or vertical stacks.
  • Bridging - two blocks with a space between them, spanned by a third block.
  • Enclosures - children place blocks in such a way that they enclose a space.
    Bridging and enclosures are among the earliest "technical" building problems that children solve. These building skills develop shortly after a child begins to use blocks regularly.
  • Decorative Patterns - when children have acquired a more facile ability with blocks, decorative patterns appear in their block play. These patterns are usually very symmetrical. Buildings are generally not named at this point.
  • Naming for Play - naming structures in relation to their function for dramatic play begins. Before this, children may have named their structures but now the names are related to the function of the building.
  • Naming and Use for Play - children's buildings now symbolize actual structures. The structures may be reproductions of known buildings or creations of their own design. There is a strong impulse toward dramatic play around the block structures.
[after Harriet Johnson, 1933; reprinted, abridged, in The Block Book]

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