Every Picture Tells a Story – Stacking Blocks & Building Walls
We’ve probably all been in a setting similar to this one. It was a cold spring afternoon and a few children had woken from their naps. To keep the room relatively calm and quiet while the others slept, the teacher set out some table top manipulatives. When she sat down to be near the two boys, she, admittedly, hadn’t given much thought to her selection. She had no expectations or learning goals in mind but simply wanted to retain a calm atmosphere.
As each child took stacking blocks from the bin, so did the teacher. The boys stacked single pieces one atop the other. Meanwhile the teacher lined up a row of pieces herself. She began to build higher, joining pairs which in turn connected the rows vertically. One of the boys stopped and watched her carefully. “What’s that?” he asked her. “I think it’s a wall”, she replied as her structure took shape. “Oh, a wall. I can make that, too!” he said as he took apart his stack and arranged the pieces horizontally. The other child observed, “It looks like a triangle.” “It has one and two and three and four”, said the first child pointing to the rows of colored pieces. “The bottom has more”, said his friend. Then each of children worked at incorporating what they had observed into their own structures. One focused on mastering connecting pairs and the other focused on using number names and counting while he built.
Later the teacher reflected on the experience. Though she hadn’t intentionally sat down to teach, that is, in fact, what she did. Her interaction with the materials caused the children to pause and think about their work in different ways. Her answers were to the point and she realized that without giving any formal instruction, she modeled something new. Now, after nap, it is her practice to set up similar experiences, those in which she lets her actions do the teaching.
I’m certain that each of us who cares for young children can do a little more of that.
Best to All,
Diane and the Kodo Team
P.S. – Want to inspire your own stacking investigation? Kodo offers some beautiful wooden stacking blocks for just the occasion!