Block accessories can be expensive. But a trip to the dollar store or grocery store can yield materials to supplement your block center at little cost. One day in the grocery store, I saw packets of neon straws. I tossed a pack into my cart and took them to my classroom. I didn't have a plan for the straws. I thought my great thinkers in the classroom could figure something out.
I put the straws in the blocks center. My group likes to build and I want to give them some different things to work with. We were talking about wells, so I also added a couple of small buckets with yarn attached. (In the past, kids have built wells and pretended to scoop out water.)
A couple of boys decided to use the straws as "water." They stuffed the straws into the buckets and transported them across the center. They dumped the "water" onto the picture of the well, I think to fill it up. The boys worked at this for a while.
Meanwhile, in another part of the center, one of my builders was at work creating a large structure.
After the others left, the builder completed his building and began to scoop and play with the straws.
Then he decided to incorporate the straws in his structure.
I love how each straw is strategically placed. He worked really hard to find just the right spot for each one.
Sometimes I'll put things out and they will be ignored. Sometimes the kids do things that I expect. And sometimes I get a block structure filled with straws. And if I put these same materials out with a different group of kids, I'll get a different result.
Repurposing and recycling materials for the classroom is great for the budget. It's great for creative thinking. And it's just fun!