Unit Block Structures: Engineers in the Making

Child playing with blocks
Child resting in a block fort
Child playing with blocks
Child playing with blocks

Examine unit blocks from the perspective of mathematics research and learn how to engage children in spatial thinking and physics in the block center.  Because building with unit blocks relies on balance, friction, and tension to construct stable structures, builders are constantly grappling with force and motion and counteractions of forces to obtain balance. The ability to construct a tower that utilizes the builder’s knowledge of balance has been linked to high performance in math and science starting in middle school. Children who work with blocks in the early years outperform their peers in math and science who don’t because of all of the mathematical concepts that can be addressed through block play.

Participants will work together to grapple with the same design and engineering problems that young children face and learn the critical importance of providing and facilitating building materials in early childhood settings. Photos and video from classrooms where blocks are part of the math and science curriculum will be shared and discussion will center on the participants’ understanding of the importance of play with these materials in PK-2nd grade classrooms.

Workshop format:  face-to-face

Length of workshop:  3 hours

Number of participants:  limited to 24

To view the experience sheet for this workshop, please click here.