MAD Constructs 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
    • How does the wood feel? Is it smooth? Rough? Do all the sides feel the same?
    • What does the grain of the wood look like? Is the grain the same on each side?
    • Are all the shapes the same? How are they the same and how are they different?
    • What letters can you make with the blocks? Can you make a word?
  • Mathematical Thinking
    • How many different ways can you put the blocks back in the box?
    • What different shapes can you make with the blocks?
    • How many blocks are in a circle?
  • Physical Knowledge
    • What different ways can you move the blocks?
    • Can you make a machine that rocks?
    • What is the tallest and sturdiest tower you can make?
    • Can you make a tower of circles?
  • Aesthetic Ideas
    • What buildings have you seen that are made only of wood?
    • What buildings have you seen that are completely round?
    • Can you design a boat?
  • Imaginative Play
    • This is a smoothie. The outside is smooth and you put the strawberries inside and shake them up.
    • I made a bunch of hills for the ants to climb on. Sometimes they get stuck on the bottom because it is very slippery.

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