In the story of Hansel and Gretel, the main characters become lost in a forest and stumble upon a house made of gingerbread and candy. Hungry and tired, the children engorged themselves with the delectable treats.
The inhabitant of the house, an old woman, invited them in and prepared a feast for them. The woman, however, was a witch who built the house to entice children to her. For this activity, we used blocks to construct gingerbread houses, along with pom poms and plastic jewels to represent candy.
Block play has long been a favorite learning center in preschool classrooms and child care centers, but it can also be used to promote STEM.
What is STEM? It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. And Miss Carrie LOVES science and engineering. A major benefit of this is the plethora of building materials that your little one gets to use in creative ways. When using block play to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics children participate in versatile learning opportunities that block play presents. Children can learn a variety of skills and gain a more comprehensive understanding of the concepts they are learning in class by playing with blocks.
In regards to STEM, block play helps children nurture and develop skills in each discipline. For the science component, children can explore cause and effect and learn about gravity, stability, weight, and balance as they play with blocks in the classroom.
Inductive thinking, experimentation, properties of matter, and inclined planes can be incorporated into block play in preschool as well. Block play can also help children develop the fine and gross motor skills they need to use technological devices.
Having a classroom camera that children can use to take pictures of their designs and structures can also help children learn technology skills.
For those interested, Miss Carrie will give them the opportunity to take a picture of their own construction. That is why you often see pictures of what they make!
Moreover, you can use blocks or other building items (we used pom poms and jewels) to help children learn about engineering concepts and develop problem-solving skills. Children can also learn about architecture and the names and functions of different buildings and bridges as they build their own unique structures.
They can also experiment with different designs and learn why some designs work and others fall down. It may not look like it, but the very act of adding jewels to their gingerbread houses helps your children learn to express quantities and measurements, sort and match objects based on similarities and differences, and understand basic math concepts (numbers, shapes, counting, addition, subtraction, etc.).
Lastly, you can use block play to help older children learn about fractions, symmetry, graphing, classification, and other mathematical concepts!