Prismatic 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
    • What pieces can you see through? What do you see when you look through the clear prism?
    • Can you tell me about the house that you made? How can I get inside the house? I wonder why you put the clear prisms on the roof.
  • Mathematical Thinking
    • Are there more color wood prisms than plain wood prisms?
    • What kinds of shapes can you make using four prisms? How many different kinds of triangle shapes can you make with the triangular prisms? Can you make a cube with the triangular prisms?
    • What are the different shapes that you see on the faces of one triangular prism?
    • What kinds of patterns can you make with the triangular prisms?
  • Physical Knowledge
    • What happens when the sunlight goes through the clear prism? What do you see? What happens if you turn the prism around? What would happen if you put two prisms together? What happens if there is no sunlight? Will you see anything?
    • What is the sturdiest tower you can make using all the wood and clear prisms? Why do you think your tower is sturdy?
  • Aesthetic Ideas
    • I wonder what kinds of designs you can make with the color and natural prisms. Which of your designs do you like the best?
    • Let’s look at this book on quilts. Can you get any ideas from the designs on quilts? Let’s look at this book on geometric art. Can you find any designs that are like the ones you made?
  • Imaginative Play
    • This is my see-through rainbow house. When the sun shines through, everything turns different colors. I like to sleep under the red color.
    • I made a rainbow road with the blocks but I can also make a rainbow road with the clear prism.
    • This is a place to buy all different kinds of ice cream. Here is the strawberry, the blueberry, the lemon, the orange, the green lime, and the purple grape.

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