Tuesday, June 1, 2010

props in the block area at preschool

How do you spark interest and encourage engagement in the block area?

Add a basket of props, a large chunk of uninterrupted time and lots of space - and then stand back!

Walk into any preschool block area and you are likely to find a basket or two of zoo animals or farm animals.

And it is no surprise why - look at the play that these simple props inspire:

What other props can be added to blocks to inspire creative, imaginitive and constructive play?

Different Props for Different Stages of Block Development

Children go through stages using blocks.  Understanding the stages will help you to provide the perfect props to appeal to the children in your world.

Carrying Blocks

Watch a toddler in the block area and you will see them carrying blocks around, piling them, collecting them and putting them in and out of containers.  

To facilitate this play, try adding:

an array of different containers
big trucks
small suitcases
Piling Blocks and laying them on the floor

Children discover how to make a tower by piling blocks on top of each other and experiment with what different arrangements look like as they lie on the floor. 

To young builders flat rows of blocks on the floor typically suggest a road, so these props are frequently put to good use:

trees (eg lego trees)
road signs
road mats
patterning cards
measuring instruments
Making Bridges
pictures of bridges
paper towel rolls
cars, trucks, train tracks
blue cloth for water, boats
sturdy cardboard lengths
Connecting Blocks to Create Structures

Three and four year olds make enclosures; make bridges; make designs; make elaborate constructions; use constructions in their dramatic play. 
doll house with furniture and dolls
traffic signs
paper, pens, scissors
hats and tools
small plastic containers and lids
telephone wire
paper towel rolls
paddlepop sticks
tiles, carpet squares
pulley and string
shells and pebbles
tree cookies
thin pieces of tubing
seed pods, pine cones
driftwood, stones, big leaves, bark, small branches
toy food, plates, bowls
scarves and material scraps
thick cardboard
big reels
tape measures, measuring tape, rulers
corrogated cardboard
different levels - low tables, wooden pallet, tyre, tree stumps
Happy building!

You might also enjoy:

14 Ways to Attract Girls to the Block Corner


  1. Thanks for all the terrific ideas. Both of my boys love building and blocks.

  2. Pleasure Debi. My boys are still avid block builders and the oldest is 11.

  3. There is nothing better than a good chunk of block play. This is one of the joys of attending a great preschool program - the HUGE supply and space for block play!

  4. There are some amazing constructions going on at your pre-school!!!!

  5. I love this post, Jenny. Basic block play might be the most overlooked, and most universal, preschool activity. I really love the long lists of ideas. I think I'll book mark this post, thank you very much! =)

  6. Love all of the terrific structures. Blocks are certainly a favorite in my class, too.

  7. The beauty of blocks is ... The car kids use them ... The animal kids use them ... The home corner kids use them. Blocks are just so universal every one can find a way to include them in their play ... Love it Jenny.!
    Donna :) :)

  8. Fantastic post
    a great memory jogger
    now im on the scrounge to find some different props to support my sons block play

  9. I would love a big set of blocks at home, I miss my 'school' blocks! I vividly remember a group of 3-4 year olds creating beautiful patterns made with blocks and natural, found material collections which were very reminiscent of Andy Goldsworthy installations.