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Welcome to the 3rd post in my creating learning spaces in your home series. This week we are celebrating the construction center!
The construction center, is often referred as the "block area"-It's a place for children to engineer new creations! In this area children are learning to manipulate new objects, and they are learning new math concepts such as size (Big & small), length, patterns and color. This learning space allows them to use their creativity to duplicate the world around them, it also provides them them social opportunities to cooperate and work together with their peers.
Children go through many stages of play in this area. Don't mistake a child who is learning the relationship between cause and effect (knocking over blocks) as a behavioral problem. Instead provide them with opportunities to make these discoveries in a safe environment, with appropriate materials.
You will observe young children learn many new skills in this space. You may notice a young child just starting out by carrying blocks. They will eventually start piling blocks, and move on to learning how to connect them to make simple 1-2 block structures, and roads. As they learn to manipulate the items in this space you may notice them creating more elaborate engineering designs such as bridges, and towers. Eventually you may notice them incorporating other items into their designs to re-create the world around them, which results in them creating elaborate structures.
Block area and loose part play at Tykes n Tots Daycare
This is an important space for learning, and one that needs some room to spread out. A flat building surface is ideal. If you don't have a flat surface consider adding a low building surface to the space, or add a board to the space that will provide a sturdier base for building.
A living room floor makes a great construction area! If you are short on space consider a mobile tray that you can slide under your sofa (such as the one made bySmart Girls DIY below). You can equip it with a variety of blocks, and small world play items (Play people, animals, items to create landscapes, etc).
A low shelf is a great way to house the materials for this area. Small bins, or baskets can be used to hold different types of building materials. Blocks can be set on top of open shelving to allow children to visualize their materials and determine which items they want to select for their structures.
This construction space above belongs to community member Liza D.
If you don't have a separate daycare space, invest in furniture that will serve as toy storage in your shared space. The IKEA TROFAST storage units featured below on Houzz, provide a sturdy building surface with room to store building items below.
materials for children of all ages
In addition to wooden unit blocks, you can add a variety of building, transportation and small world play materials to this space (See some of my favorites here). When it comes to creating learning spaces it can be challenging to find items that can be added to the space for differing ages and abilities. Here are some suggested items to add to your construction space by age:
Mobile infants 6-14 mo.
Mobile Infants (6-14 mo.) enjoy a variety of building materials with a variety of textures. Provide them with containers for filling and dumping such as paper bags, and cardboard boxes. Collect recycled items for building such as: boxes, Coffee Containers, Cardboard Tubes, Egg Cartons, Plastic Cups, Yogurt Cups, and Cereal boxes.
More items for this age:
Young Toddlers 14-24 mo.
Young Toddlers enjoy all of the items above. You can also add in more challenging items to build with such as larger building materials (Larger boxes, and Scrap wood blocks).
More items for this age:
Wagon for hauling
Older Toddlers 24-36 mo.
Older Toddlers are very active in this place. They love to tell you about their creations. You can support their building by providing them different platforms for building-so that they can build under, and on top of spaces. A mirror on the wall next to the building area provides them with a new perspective of their creations.
For this age group you can provide:
Wood to make ramps
Cameras to take photos of their creations
Cardboard Boxes of all sizes-to build and haul with
Large/Clear Containers for Storage
Plastic Toys Bolts and Screws
Milk Carton Blocks
PVC Pipe Pieces and Connectors
Small Wooden Blocks
You can enhance their small world play by including:
Cars, Trucks, Planes, Trains and Boats
Adding props for small world play
In addition to blocks, you can also add a variety of items for small world play such as:
Provide materials for children to create signs, and allow them to label their constructions. Add books to the construction space about building, or books that show photos of buildings. You can also hang posters, or photos from architectural calendars (*Money saving tip-you can often find these at the Dollar Store). You can also laminate photos of buildings (Check garage sales, and your thrift store for books), and architectural elements to include in your building space. Grab a FREE COPY of my Let's build posters here.
Use Enriching vocabulary
Discuss the materials the Children are using:
"I see you have blocks in your wagon", "I see you have added animals to your building"
Discuss the Structures they are building:
"That tower you are building is so tall", "I see you can fit several cars inside the tunnel you made", "That bridge looks strong"
Discuss building concepts:
"Those blocks just fell down", "I see you moved that block", "I see you stacked 3 blue blocks"
Show off their accomplishments
Add photos of the children's creations to the space. You can attach them to the wall, or turn them into a photo album or flip book. Another option is purchasing a digital photo frame that displays a slideshow of their constructions.
You might like:
Below you will find more posts related to the construction area. If you are an educator who is interested in sharing your learning spaces with others, consider joining The Daycare Spaces and Ideas FB Community. In our group you can find thousands of photos from other educators!
Art provides many opportunities for young children to learn new skills. In addition to being a creative process, children are also improving their physical, cognitive, and self-expression skills as they create! Below you will find some suggestions on how to create a space for art in your home daycare program.
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