Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Blocks and Problems

I love to watch the kids solve problems. Sometimes I create activities that lead to problem-solving and sometimes situations develop that create problem-solving opportunities. However, our blocks provide many opportunities to solve problems...beyond the natural ones that occur when building.

Our set of blocks is a mishmash. We have some "regulation" unit blocks, some homemade wooden blocks (larger than the others), some smaller blocks, a few Jenga block pieces, and other assorted wooden shapes. Not an entire set of anything. Normally my kids just jump in and build, with little regard for the odd assortment that we have.

However, sometimes this eclectic set of blocks causes problems. This week we had some block patterns to follow--pictures of block designs for the children to make. And then the problem arose. We don't have all the same block shapes that the patterns used. Or we don't have enough of a particular shape.

JH was determined to make the donkey design he saw on the picture. He worked on following the pattern...and discovered that we didn't have any of the quarter circle blocks shown. (In fact, I have never had any quarter circles in any block set I've had in a classroom.) And some of the other shapes were lacking in number. So, he began to improvise. He tried a few different things until he was happy with the result. He said, "Look!" and then, of course, "Take a picture of it."

A few other children worked to improvise to create some of the other patterns. And I tried to soak up all that brain power that was at work!


  1. Wow - he did an amazing job. I love how the lack of "perfect" materials didn't make you shelve the whole activity. Your students probably learned more by having to improvise and you have learned more about their potential. That Donkey is amazing!!

  2. Where did you get your block cards? Did you make them?

    1. This particular card was from an old set of curriculum I had. However I have photographed other block figures that could be used as block cards. Just lay blocks in a pattern, photograph, and print on card stock.