Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Blocks/Building Center Freebie



Ok, pre-k and kinder teachers: let me ask you a question. 
Do you have a blocks/building center in your room? 

Have you done away with it because is seems like too much of a "problem-center"? Do your kiddos not seem to know what to do there? 

PLEASE don't get rid of your block/building center....and if you already have PLEASE let me show you a couple ideas that will allow you to bring it back!

The building/block center has a very important place in any pre-k and kindergarten curriculum. Playing with blocks provides a wonderful opportunity for oral language development, hand/eye coordination, and spacial reasoning among many other benefits.

While this is indeed an important center, it can also be problematic. It can be a noisy center in which kids become off-task. Sometimes kids start playing with the blocks, throwing them, etc. Most of that off-task behavior is a result of not knowing/remembering what they can do there. 

I won't go on and on about modeling and practice, practice, practice - you already know that. I want to offer 2 super simple ideas to help make this center manageable and more enjoyable for you and the kiddos!

1. Here is a little "I Can" booklet you can model how to use with your students. Then, they will be able to refer to the booklet for ideas to keep them on task in this important early childhood center. It basically offers your students ideas to begin their block creations -- not an exhaustive list -- just ideas to get them started in easy to understand pictures.

I hope you like this FREEBIE :0) Click HERE to grab!




2. Also, something else I find really helpful with keeping kids engaged and focused during center time is having clear boundaries for them. Most of the time the kids WANT to follow directions.....but they are 5 and 6 and they DO forget. I have found that using "duck tape" boundaries really help them know where their center begins and ends. My kids have learned very well how to stay inside their "zebra stripes". All I have to do is glance at the floor and I have kids checking their feet to make sure they are in their center. It's a great visual!







I hope these ideas help!
Now, it's your turn! What do you do to help manage your blocks/building center? Let us know below in the comments :0)

28 comments:

  1. I like the taped area idea. We have blocks, but we only use them for indoor recess. I like how you use it as a station. I wish we could-it is so kindergarten!
    Jennifer
    kindertrips

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  2. Thanks for the I Can Freebie...love it! Yes, I still have wooden blocks for a center so I have students using them everyday. They have a specific area on the carpet to stay within and can't build a structure taller than they are. The only time it seems loud is when they are putting the blocks away. I remind them to set the blocks in the bin rather than throw them:-)
    Michelle

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  3. I still have my blocks center! I even incorporate it into my math stations since building involves critical thinking skills. Thanks for the I Can freebie! :)

    Mary
    Mrs. Lirette's Learning Detectives

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  4. Great book; thanks! Our block area is definitely a favorite! I have a rug that defines the space. Shelves are labeled with pictures of the shapes that belong on each shelf, which helps with clean up. Other additions to the block area are books about building and clipboards, paper and markers or pencils to draw what they have created. I also have some small people, cars, and animals kids can use. These things open their minds to many ideas. Thanks for the post! I agree; don't get rid of your block play!

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  5. I love the idea of defining the space with tape. I'll have to remember that. I love blocks for my students. They come up with some great things all on their own. One year, my kids kept reenacting the rock slide we had on one of our main roads. Last year they played monster trucks with them. The cool part was they got a white board and set up a tally sheet to keep track of who was winning. They used invented spelling and everything. Thanks for sharing.
    Ms. Kerri and her Krazy Kindergarten

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  6. I have placed my blocks in different bins - with different purposes. We have blocks for making a track, blocks that are large, some that are small, some that are colored and some that are wood-toned. Students can use them however they wish, but must put them back where they belong (sorting). Blocks are only allowed on the tiger carpet to cut down on the noise. The worst I have found is when someone else knocks down their creation... or it's time to put it away. They want to keep it forever! I've only ever used my block center (in K and 1) as a reward or social center. I'm going to have to start including them in subjects (however, I do use legos in reading and sentence building).

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  7. Thanks for the freebie, it looks great!
    I am a big fan of block play. Some things that have worked for me in the block area are:
    1. I have squares of paper, straws, markers and tape and the kiddo's label buildings and make flags and tape onto their structures.
    2. I always have some kind of props they can add like plastic animals for a zoo etc. and I change them about every 2 weeks.
    3. I have a piece of colored paper the exact size of the block taped to the shelf so that they can match the blocks and it is all super organized when they clean up. (One of our class jobs is the block checker...called the 'Foreman'.
    Oh gosh, one more....I often take pictures of what they built and then I print them and they journal about it.
    Can you tell I love blocks, lol?

    :) Nancy
    Nancy @ Joy of Life 2011

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  8. Excellent freebie and I love the duct tape boundaries! Thank you!

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  10. I'm a first grade teacher and I LOVE my blocks! It really sparks their imagination! I do have a limit of five kids at a time and I make sure to use it as a rotating center. It's a favorite. While I don't have tape, I do use a section of my carpet as boundries. I like the idea of taking pics of their creations. Clever! I don't think kids have enough time with blocks these days!

    Firstgradebloomabilities

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  11. You must have read my mind today! I just posted about the importance of center time in my classroom! Please come check it out :)
    http://herdingkats.blogspot.com/2012/07/center-time-flash-giveaway.html
    I'm having a flash giveaway too! I love your Block Center book - thanks so much for sharing!

    Jennifer @ Herding Kats In Kindergarten

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  12. Susan - absolutely! My kids love to read in the blocks center....lots of construction books, truck and car books.....My favorite is The Apron book by Eric Carle......

    I have clipboards where the kids can draw "plans" or draw what they created and share after centers. Lots of ways to incorporate "academics".

    My district is super picky and we cannot do lots of crafts and stuff. However, blocks and home center are required in kinder! :0)

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  13. and don't forget about traffic signs - you can print signs and tape on some of the blocks....Oooohhh - I have an idea for another freebie! :0)

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  14. I like to have them use dice. Take as many blocks as you roll. When all the blocks are gone, they have to share what they made...
    Kinderaffe2ndgrares.blogspot.com

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  15. Thanks for the freebie!! Have an awesome 4th!!
    Rochell

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  16. I have my block shelf set up so that there is a "designated area" for the block play...the space is defined by the wall and other shelves. I do love the tape idea to help remind the younger kids where the boundary is. My students were pretty good about keeping the toys in the right areas, but extra reminders always help.

    Kathy
    KathisMath

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  17. Kinderaffe - that is a cool idea!

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  18. I LOVE this! I will be making it as soon as I get back to school. I personally HATE the blocks center...I feel like my kids always just get out 49503845093485 blocks and then the center is a hot mess. I think this little book will be a great way to give them ideas of what to build. Thanks for sharing!

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  19. thanks for the great freebie! I use duct tape to mark their places for circle time but what a great idea to mark off boundaries for center/play time!

    Maria
    Kinder-Craze

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  20. We can't tape on our carpet but there is a tile area surrounding the carpet. My class naturally keeps the blocks on the tile between the block shelf and the art table (which is of course in front of the door to the bathroom lol). Wooden unit blocks like kitchen are always a part of our developmental centers. Sometimes they use the play people and animals in blocks and we rotate legos through the different classrooms. For me, this is a time for them to be noisy and use that oral language and imagination. Because I use that time for goal conferences, I don't get to observe the play as much as I'd like. I love the idea of taking pictures of their creations.
    Thanks for the I Can booklet. It would also be good for when there is discord to randomly pick a page and say "Can you work together as s team to build this?"
    Jenn

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  21. Hi there! I am your newest follower. I just wanted to let you know that I am passing on the One Lovely Blog award to you for such a cute blog! You can pick up the award at my blog:www.sweetkinders.blogspot.com.

    Thanks,

    Amber Huber

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  22. Thanks for the freebie!! I love it and the idea of using duct tape!!! :)
    Michelle
    Kindergarten Stars

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  23. Your blog is so adorable and you have such great ideas:) I'm in the process of writing a post awarding you with The Versatile Blogger award, stop on by and see it on Saturday...it's taking me awhile to write the post, and I'm timing it to post tomorrow cause I don't want to double post today:-D

    We are ALL Special!

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  24. thanks for the freebie...your page looks awesome im your newest follower...drop by ..id love to participate at your next giveaway...maybe 1000 ??? =)

    Just Wild About Teaching

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  25. Thanks for the booklet! You always have such wonderful ideas! I love your blog! :)

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  26. Thank you for this...I have always thought blocks were important in a Kindergarten classroom. Administrators said no blocks and now they are finally going to allow it.

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  27. Thank you so much for the I Can book and the ideas about the block center. I hated the block center last year and only used it towards the end of the year. I believe that using all the ideas I've read here I'm going to implement this as a center this next year! Thanks so much!!

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