Thursday, August 17, 2006

Block Play

Sometimes it seems like most of my posts apologize for not being "real" Block Play, but instead being a near-miss.

Yet when I do an online search for building blocks, I am as likely to find "how to" books about just about anything than "real" building blocks such as the unit blocks in today's pictures.

So "building blocks," and thus "block play" can also be a metaphor for construction with discrete components.

I have occasionally been tempted to wander even further astray than I have, to include things such as loop-loom potholders, or even playing music on a children's zither.

Thinking about "how do I benefit from block play" helps me see the parallels: I benefit because I am able to create something. Even if it doesn't have enduring significance.

In each case, I begin with predefined forms, assemble them to a pattern which may or may not vary in some way from a provided example, and end up with something satisfying, having order and structure.

Good Block Play.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Campaniles &c

I got an email the other day from a university student whose research led to this blog. Preparing to respond involved some block play -- I routinely do activities from my "cope list" to try to get the brain functioning in some sort of order, and since the question I needed to answer was about the benefits of Froebel blocks, it seemed appropriate to use Froebel blocks in my preparation.

In this instance, Froebel's "Fourth Gift," which consists of eight rectangular blocks of ratio 1x2x4. But instead of the real thing, I went for an oversized counterpart in unit blocks. Some exercise with the blocks, and off I went to write and email my response. I realized when creating the link above that I have posted all of Froebel's block gifts except #4, which is probably my favorite. I shall need to correct that ommission soon.

Later I went back to the blocks and began fooling around, quickly grabbing more blocks out of the box, but sticking primarily to the basic 1x2x4 unit blocks.

Still feeling happy about the campanile in the previous post, I began experimenting with variations, until I was happy with what I had built. I photographed it, then tore it down and began building what I imagined to be the facade of a modern office block, though when I saw the pictures, I was more inclined to consider it perhaps an old department store?

The campanile was less pleasing in the pictures, so I went back and rebuilt it with some modifications, and it is the rebuilt version that appears at left. The first try is at right, I find I dislike it less on further reflection.

The first campanile used 26 "unit" unit blocks, nine "other," and one wood ball with a flattened side; the facade 48 "units" and six "other;" the second campanile 36 "units, ten "other, and the ball again. Sort of an intermediate exercise between the "all one size and shape" of Kapla and their ilk, and the "many sizes and shapes" of most block sets.

Good Block Play.