Pyramid 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 any grains on the natural wood that are the same?
    • Are they wavy? Striped? What else do they look like?
    • How does the yellow piece feel with your eyes closed. Smooth? smooth? sharp? slippery? smooth? etc.
    • Does your pyramid look like the one in the book?
    • How is it different?
    • Tell me about the airplane you made? Where does it fly on long trips? Who is riding in it? Does it go fast or slow? Can it land in the water?
  • Mathematical Thinking
    • Can you make some symmetrical patterns?
    • How many different ways can you fit the Pyramid back into the box?
    • What forms can you make when the angles fit together? Can you make a shape that is closed on all sides?
    • Can you find two colors that when put side by side will equal the length of the red piece? [The widest sides of each piece will be touching.] Can you find two colors that when put side by side will equal the length of the orange piece?
  • Physical Knowledge
    • Can you make two orange pieces lean on each other without falling down? What kind of support will help them stay?
    • Can you do the same thing with two red pieces? Two blue pieces? Which ones will work? What is the difference?
    • How can we make a tunnel tall enough for our train to pass under?
  • Aesthetic Ideas
    • This building looks like a beautiful skyscraper with points reaching up to the sky. I like the way the light makes shadows in between the shapes. When I walk around your building, I can see so many different shapes.
    • Let’s look at books on architecture and sculpture. Can you find some sculptures (or buildings) that look like the one you made? What materials did the artist or architect use?
  • Imaginative Play
    • I made a butterfly family. The baby has red-purple wings.
    • This is my house and this is my friend’s house. We live very close together next to a lake where a scary fish lives deep down in the water. This is my boat to use when I try to catch the fish.
    • This monster is lying down. Watch out! He is getting up!

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