Sunday, June 03, 2007

Stack play

Wooden blocks, rectangular mostly, being stacked on each other with nothing but gravity and friction at work. Outdoors, in the sun, on a lovely Sunday, with children at play.

The best kind of block play may well be stack play, even if lately I seem to have been mostly doing tech play (connecting things, especially with mechanisms involved). I've been doing pattern play lately as well, my third general category of block play (we'll get to that here again soon, I hope).

Today's outdoor exercise was partly inspired by some block construction designs I found online with a gaudy multicolor set of plastic blocks. I didn't like the blocks much, even if they were in legitimate unit block format, but the designs intrigued me - they are far more interesting than usually accompany block sets (click on image for a larger view).

So I printed them out, along with a guide to which blocks I would need, and made up an appropriate set from my unit block collection. It's actually a nice little set, once decolored - which shouldn't come as surprise given the quality of the constructions.

Once outside, I soon discovered that the concrete stepping stone I intended to use as a building surface was too uneven, so I built the cathedral on the box lid - which sagged, giving us a bit of an A-frame effect.

My neighbor offered up a sturdier foundation, and her younger girl offered assistance. Assistance quickly became supervision, and I found it best to sit back while she created "a whole family of houses." It was well worth the interuption to see real early-childhood block play in action. She's also a sweetie.

Once she moved on, I was able to go back to building the old fashioned gas station (top), followed by the chair & table, and the dog - though she did return periodically, demanding explanations as to what I was up to. She was especially concerned as to what dog that was.

Great block play.


Herman said...

Ooo... you made a dog! fun fun fun. I like the dog. I like stack place. I wanna play blocks with dillon

Genevieve said...

My son loved the block construction designs you linked on your post. I am having a hard time finding more example over the internet. Could you please suggest a few more links? Thank you!

Alan said...

Oh, I wish! Unfortunately, there isn't much out there. I'm afraid that there have been too many different block mix configurations for Unit Block sets for anything to be universal.

This blog has several examples of my use of Ankerstein patterns (with links) (and here) and Froebel Gift patterns as inspiration for Unit Block construction, and if you poke around here a bit, you may find more inspiration.

Les Walker's Block Building for Children has 18 wonderful designs, albeit requiring a rather special block mix to build properly - though most of the extra blocks can be homemade to approximate measurement, since they typically are not used in dimensionally critical structural positions.

I'll return to this topic with real blog posts as soon as I can, with more sample designs from Froebel literature which work well with Unit Blocks.

Thank you for giving me the nudge.


Genevieve said...

>>I'll return to this topic with real blog posts as soon as I can, with more sample designs from Froebel literature which work well with Unit Blocks.

Please do! We have been applying some Froebel philosophy towards our block play and it has been a lot of fun.

Till then, we will be merrily printing out your beautiful examples for inspiration.


Alan said...

Okee dokee.

In an overly long new post, there are 50 different things to do with 8 unit blocks. :)

I will follow that soon with a similar post sharing all the designs for Froebel Gift #6, which has more blocks, of three shapes.