- Paper bags
- Blocks Natural materials collected from outdoors, such as
- Broken branches
- Dead weeds
- Seed pod
Objective: Children will use creative-thinking and problem-solving skills as they create environments using blocks and natural materials.
In Advance: Talk about the natural environment in your area. Is your school in an urban area with few trees, rocks, and parks around the buildings? Is it in a rural setting with many trees, flowers, and green fields? Encourage children to describe the elements of the environment in your area.
Then talk about the scenes children create in the block area. Ask, "How could we add some of the elements from the outdoors to the block area? What would we need?" If possible, take children on a walk to collect natural materials outside the school. Offer each child a paper bag to hold her collection. If this isn't possible, gather materials yourself or ask parents to help.
- Once the natural materials are collected, examine them together. Invite children to brainstorm the different ways they can use the materials in their block building.
- Together, put the materials in boxes or on shelves in your block area for children to use as they choose when they build with blocks. Some problems may arise as they try to use the materials. For example, children may want to use a branch as a tree but have difficulty making it stand. Encourage them to problem-solve different methods and materials they can use. If children have difficulty, you can help without offering answers by, for example, putting out an assortment of materials for attaching to things. (Standing sticks in play dough or clay works well.)
- After children have enjoyed using materials from their local environment in the block area, invite them to investigate other environments. Together, look at fiction and nonfiction books to find information about environments such as the seaside, mountains, desert, or city.
- Fill boxes with natural materials that represent the different environments, such as shells, dried seaweed, and sand for a seaside scene. Invite children to use these materials to create new environments in the block area.
For younger children: Take your blocks outdoors so children can create wonderful block structures with the blue sky and green grass as inspiration!
For older children: Extend their play by asking children to draw or write stories about their scenes.
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