As you leave the literacy area and enter the larger part of the classroom, you will see a large open space for the use of unit blocks. Because the use of the unit blocks is where we want children to focus their attention, other supportive materials are kept to a minimum and frequently rotate so as not to dominate or control the block play. The natural, hardwood unit blocks provide math and science experiences as they are designed as units of each other and provide opportunities to understand the workings of balance, gravity, levels and planes. The accessories extend the experience by supporting imaginary and dramatic play.
The floor area is large and open, yet the area is protected from the intrusion of others so that children can build tall and wide with a large quantity and variety of sizes and shapes of blocks. Block play provides socializing experiences of give and take, sharing and cooperation, as well. Clean up can be overwhelming with so many blocks, so we have provided a highly organized and clearly labeled shelf system to give children a clear message as to where each block goes when finished.
The large, hollow, hardwood blocks are designed to be used by children to create child-sized structures and enclosures. Because the blocks are large and heavy, the activity requires children to work together cooperatively, planning and working toward the same goal. Generally the older preschooler finds this a more rewarding experience and will spend much more time engaged in elaborate planning and building while the younger children quickly leave for something more appropriate for their developmentally level. Depending on the time of year, these large blocks may be in use in the outdoor setting instead.