They’re wooden, smooth, tactile, come in all sorts of 3-dimensional shapes, fitting them NEATLY back into their box is the ultimate Krypton Factor challenge, (bet loads of you are too young to remember that!), and they have to be one of the most popular resources in the Big Room… they are The Blocks! We all love building with them, (although I just love fitting them back in their box – a very satisfying bit of 3-D tidying up!), and children are often reaching for the class camera to record their amazing constructions. But… is it just children playing with wooden blocks? The answer, of course is no – they are not ‘just’ playing, they are creating, learning, cooperating and so much more. Even though I have spent the last year immersing myself in the principles and practice of active learning in the classroom I can still lapse into the ‘just playing with blocks’ frame of mind. But each time I’m shown the latest technical design for the new CalMac ferry, the next ancient stone circle, the seat that actually fits and supports a real child, the symmetrically balanced sculpture, the castle with the secret door, the set for another Comic Life film making project I am constantly reminded and amazed at the learning potential which arises when you mix children with wooden shapes.
I’ve seen that Blocks + Children + A little bit of adult interaction = relevant, creative, motivated learning. I had specific Curriculum for Excellence outcomes in mind when we resources the construction area, (the home of The Blocks), in the Big Room, but as I was downloading the latest pictures from the camera – and there they were again – I wondered just how much of the curriculum could be addressed through the blocks. When our headteacher Mrs Johnston and I visited Luing and Easdale Primaries in march, they had blocks too, (bigger than ours … mmm), and their joint head, Stephen said he reckoned you could teach the whole curriculum with the blocks. I’m not exactly quoting you on that Stephen – but it is blocks for thought….