Monday, September 27, 2010

we built this city - girls and blocks

I'm sure most of us have experienced the dilemma of a block area dominated by boys

So it was a delight this week to see two girls building up a storm for an hour and a half. 

While our boys were busy outside playing in the mud these two had not only the block area, but the whole room to themselves.  

Sometimes the number of boys in the area can be off-putting and even when girls are interested in joining in they can be discouraged by boys through their words and actions.

The girls talked, laughed, made up songs and worked in perfect harmony as their city took shape.

Don't you just find it endlessly facinating watching the differences in the way girls and boys play

While playing with blocks, the girls were very supportive and affirming of each other and in an hour and a half they only had one disagreement, easily resolved. 

On the other hand, this week the boys seem more orientated to competition and focused on getting their fair share of the resources.

The girls used the blocks and props to create an extension of their world: there were familiar houses, shops and people and places from their own lives.  The story they were creating was intricately wound into their constructions.  
Boys seem more focused on the task of building: creating more elaborate structures and finding innovative uses for materials.  Taller!  Bigger!  Better!

When it comes to choosing the block area for play, it makes you wonder how much the decision can be attributed to gender and the socialisation process, and what we teachers can do to keep the girls coming back for more. 

(You might like to take a look at 10 Ways to Attract Girls to the Block Corner)


  1. Oh I love it - my block area is such an eye sore in my room - no accessories, I think is the problem. Just stopping by to say Hi and thanks for the daily dose of inspiration!

  2. That is one impressive city.

    Fascinating to read the differences you have observed between boys and girls when playing.

  3. It's funny how our schools so often run according to some sort of magical, intercontinental synchronicity, Jenny! I've just uploaded a batch of photos showing what happened in our block area when the girls took over last week. They built nothing as elaborate as this, but they did "own" the space for much of the day.

  4. Amie - thanks for stopping by and welcome :)

    Tom: We do seem to be in sync in a scary twilight zonish sort of way!

  5. I have always had a relatively "plain" block area, with just, well, blocks. I am beginning to see the possibilities that could come along with some embellishments - open ended ones especially. We have some rocks, fabric squares, small colored blocks, and paper and drawing materials with the construction things. It is interesting to see how children combine different materials to make their ideal construction. This is great to read about! Go, ladies!