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Organization of Block Play

The staff was concerned that block play was not something that children engaged in effectively. During an initial observation, the following was observed:

  • The foam blocks had been set up on the carpeted area in a large bin.
  • Initially, two girls started to pick out blocks and attach them together.
  • As more children joined the activity, the blocks were dumped.
  • Children found spaces at the edge of the area and started to build independently.
  • Some children became frustrated because their structure was inadvertently knocked down when other children attempted to reach a particular block.

A number of inappropriate behaviours were observed

  • Block play stopped within a short time
  • All blocks were left out all over the carpeted area
  • Children walked over the blocks
  • Some children kicked or threw blocks
  • One child got hurt when a thrown block hit her

The problem was discussed with the staff members. To support the discussion, the staff had been encouraged to look up information about block play in All in a Day’s Play, Child Development at Work. It was realized that in order for this age group to create more elaborate structures, better storage of materials was needed and children needed some ideas to motivate them to build more elaborate structures.


Children were encouraged to help arrange the foam blocks by shape (Each shape in a different container, labeled by picture and word of that shape). Not only did children learn where blocks belonged, it also allowed the children to find the exact block they were looking for.

Dumping of all the blocks no longer occurred. Structures became much more elaborate and attention spans increased. When it was time to clean up, children seemed to enjoy the task. It became a learning experience. Pre-reading and math skills were reinforced as children matched the blocks to the appropriate labeled container.