Minuta 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
    • I wonder what you are hiding under all the little trays. Can I guess?
    • What do you see in the reflection in the little trays? Do you see yourself?
    • Can you find some pictures in a magazine to cut out and put in the little trays? What kind of pictures did you choose?
  • Mathematical Thinking
    • How many of the little trays are empty? How many are full?
    • What different shapes can you make with the square trays? Can you make larger squares?
    • How many buttons can you fit in the little trays?
    • I see you started to make a pattern with the little trays. One up, one down, one up, one down. Can you continue with your pattern?
  • Physical Knowledge
    • What is the strongest building you can make when you stand the little trays on their ends? Can you blow it down?
    • Can you make some buildings with two trays leaning on each other? Do you think they will stay up or fall down?
    • Which is heavier, the one big tray or nine of the little trays? How can you tell?
  • Aesthetic Ideas
    • Let’s look at these furniture catalogs. The creation you made looks like this table, but your table has different legs. Why did you decide to make your table this way?
    • Can you design some chairs that you would like to have in your house?
    • Would you make your furniture out of wood or would you use another material? Why do you like wood?
  • Imaginative Play
    • I made some beds and some chairs and some TVs. You can see my face on the TV.
    • These are nests for all my tiny, tiny birds. When it is time to go to sleep they cover up with the little wood roof. They like to sleep close together.

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