Raise your hand if your blocks center is the most popular center in your preschool, pre-k, or kindergarten classroom. I thought so!
Setting up a block center in your preschool or kindergarten classroom can be tricky; and it’s so much more than just putting out a bunch of blocks in a basket and letting the kids go at it.
And the organization of all the blocks and other items in the block center can be a huge headache too, am I right?
Here are some ideas for not only setting up, stocking, and organizing your blocks center, but also for supporting language, literacy, math, critical thinking, problem solving, and social skills too.
Blocks Center Labels
First things first – label all the things! A well organized block area has labels on every tub and a matching label on the shelf. The labels have a picture of the item along with the word to create a print-rich environment for your little learners. Put a label on both ends of each tub so your kids will be successful putting them away correctly (you’re welcome!)
Organize the Block Center
But you can’t just put the blocks and toys out on the shelf and let the kids have at it, that’s a recipe for total chaos! You’ll save your sanity if you are intentional about how organize the materials on the shelves in your block center. Place each set of materials in a container with an open top. Having open tops facilitates a quick and easy clean-up and is more inviting for the children.
The tubs or containers you use should all be the same, it doesn’t matter if they’re all colored, clear, or if they’re baskets. When you use the same storage containers for an entire center it creates more visual appeal and cuts down on visual clutter in your classroom, which results in calmer kids.
Don’t forget to add some traffic signs to your block center to add to the print-rich environment in your preschool or pre-k classroom. Traffic signs provide your kids with opportunities for identifying environmental print.
Cars and Trucks in the Block Center
Adding cars and trucks to your block center will give your students opportunities to develop their oral language skills, problem solving, and creativity. And your kids will love making all those great truck and car noises!
Pictured behind the trucks above is the block center sign, you can read more about how our center signs work here.
Communication and Problem Solving in the Block Center
This road puzzle set is perfect for groups of kids to work together, communicate, and problem solve. Because the road can be set-up in many different ways it offers a unique play experience each time.
Block Center Materials
When it comes to stocking and setting up your blocks center, you’ll want to choose carefully so you can get the most bang for your buck and still keep your kids engaged and having fun. Here are some of the items I have in my blocks center that have withstood daily use (and abuse) by large numbers of small children.
- Unit blocks
- Soft Blocks
- Vehicles (bus, dump truck, fire truck)
- Traffic Signs
- Block Play People
- Cardboard Blocks
- Around the Town Rug
- Books about Building, Construction, and Transportation
- Animals (jungle, farm, dinosaurs)
Nature in the Block Center
Adding natural materials to your block center can be a great way to integrate science and math as well as enhance learning and play. Items like pine cones, sticks, tree trunk slices, rocks, artificial leaves, pieces of natural fabrics, and shells can inspire imagination and creativity in young children. These tree trunk slices still have their bark and children can clearly see the rings, creating a wonderful opportunity for discussion! You can gather these materials yourself, or purchase them if you prefer.
Please use caution when incorporating natural items into the classroom and be aware that some items such as pine cones and tree trunk slices may trigger environmental allergies for some children.
Nature Inspired Block Play
The children enjoyed using sticks, tree trunk slices, rocks, and artificial leaves to create this scenario. They were inspired by the book Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury.
Natural Materials in the Blocks Center
Here’s another block play scenario using the same materials, the children were inspired by the book The Three Little Pigs. They built a wall around the brick house and hid the house behind leaves to hide from the wolf.
Loose Parts in the Blocks Center
Your preschool kids may also enjoy using loose parts in the block center. Here are some loose parts you could add:
- Craft sticks
- Disposable cups
- Small boxes
- Fabric Scraps
And last, but certainly not least, you’ll want to provide your kids with paper and writing tools like pencils or markers in the block play area. They can use these items to create blueprints of their building structures, write notes like “Under Construction”, and create their own signs.
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The Teaching Tribe
Having a fully stocked blocks center is awesome! But let’s face it, a block center can’t make you a better teacher. The best place to discuss teaching best practices and get the support you need is in the Teaching Tribe. We have many printable lessons and on-demand video trainings to help you become the best teacher you can be! If you want to get on the waiting list for the Teaching Tribe, do it soon so you don’t miss the next open enrollment period!