Workshop Descriptions

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Blocks in the Early Childhood Curriculum: An Overview
This introductory workshop looks at the development of block play in young children from infancy through the early childhood years and the use of blocks as a primary learning tool across the early childhood curriculum. The design of the block environment, types of blocks, storage ideas, use of props, the role of the teacher, and ways to encourage and enrich block play for all children are considered.

Blocks Tell a Story: Enriching Literacy Through Block Play
Blocks are a powerful tool for representing objects and stories already known, for creating imaginary narratives and recreating real events, for communicating and negotiating ideas, and for inspiring writing. This workshop explores the integral relationship between children's language development and construction from early childhood through elementary school. Observation and documentation of children's block play for authentic assessment of literacy standards and frameworks are explored.

Exploring Forms and Patterns in Space: The Aesthetics of Block Play
Art, architecture, and mathematics are closely connected as children build with blocks. Participants build with a variety of three-dimensional modular material (blocks and recycled material) as they explore the beauty of geometric forms, symmetry, patterns, spirals, size and color series, textures, and free-form designs. Ways to connect block structures to the real world of art and architecture from a variety of cultures and time periods are examined through the use of photographs, books, and neighborhood trips.

Mathematical Thinking
The modular feature of blocks makes them a natural material for exploring mathematical ideas. This workshop considers how children's spontaneous block play is clearly linked to specific National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) process and content standards for Pre-K to 4th grade (problem solving, communication, reasoning, connections, estimations, geometrical and spatial sense, measurement, and patterns and relationships). It also considers how documentation of children's block play can be used as an alternative assessment model.

Representing Our World: Blocks in the Social Studies Curriculum
Children use blocks to represent, investigate, and revisit their immediate world—their classroom, their school, their home, their neighborhood—in increasing detail and complexity, exploring geographical relationships, social planning, and mapping skills. This workshop looks at ways to enrich this process and consider how block play provides a natural environment for children to work cooperatively and experience how ideas are developed and shared.

Children as Scientists: Physical Knowledge and Block Play
As children construct with blocks, they are naturally experimenting with the properties of materials and physical phenomena, observing, comparing, interpreting, classifying, theorizing, predicting, and solving problems. This workshop looks at how children are "being scientific" as they construct with blocks, and examines ways in which teachers can observe, document, provoke, and assess this process.