Colorframes Suggestions for Use

To understand children’s learning with open-ended materials, it is often useful to step back and observe their spontaneous play and problem solving. Children use blocks in a variety of ways:

  • To create designs – arrangements with no particular function.
  • To build functional structures – things that move, shelters, and enclosures.
  • To build representations of real objects – sailboats, animals, and people.
  • To rearrange patterns – recombining a given set of blocks into different arrangements.
  • To act out narratives – using the blocks to tell a story.
  • To encounter and solve problems

Children will almost always start building on their own and may often build for long periods of time with great concentration. We have included some suggestions for use to further stimulate their ideas. However, we encourage parents and teachers to let children take the lead.

  • Language Development
    • Can you find all the blocks that are red… orange… yellow… green… blue… purple? Do some colors have the same name? What do some of the colors make you think of? Could you give them a different name?
    • Can you find other things in the room that match the colors on the blocks?
    • Which blocks are painted the lightest color? The darkest? The brightest (most intense)? The dullest (least intense)?
    • Can you make a road that starts with white and gets darker and darker?
    • Can you make a road that starts with the brightest color and ends up with the dullest color?
    • Can you tell a story about the color blocks? When they stand up, do they seem to look like people?
  • Mathematical Thinking
    • I made a house with five blocks. Can you make a different kind of house with five blocks?
    • Can you make a house that is taller than mine? Can you make a house that is the same height?
    • I see you made a floor for your house with a pattern: red, yellow, blue, red, yellow, blue. Can you continue your pattern?
    • If you took all the Colorframes and made a long road, how far do you think it would go? From you to the end wall? Longer? Shorter? Take a guess.
  • Physical Knowledge
    • How can you make a three-sided tower that would be very strong? Why is one way stronger than the other way?
    • I see you are making a door to your house. How could you make it swing back and forth?
    • Can you make one “person” stand on another’s shoulders? Are there different ways to do this? Which is the sturdiest?
  • Aesthetic Ideas
    • Can you make a house with color walls on the inside and natural wood on the outside? Which do you like better, the color walls or the natural wood?
    • Why did you choose these colors? What did they remind you of?
    • Can you find a painting in this book that has the same colors as some of the Colorframes? Which colors do you like best? Why?
    • Can you find some colors outside that match some of the Colorframes? Leaves, rocks, tree trunks, sand?
  • Imaginative Play
    • I made a tower with a magic purple door. If you push the door, an ugly green dragon will jump out and scare you.
    • This is a rainbow road for rainbow cars and rainbow dogs and cats.
    • The dark orange fish is getting darker and darker and now he is swimming under a rock. You can pull him out with your red and blue fishing rod.

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