Block building is a major component of the work children do at Westland. Ever since the early 20th century when the unit block was invented to provide the ideal building material for young children, progressive schools have developed a rich tradition for cultivating skills through block play.
Math and science skills include concepts of space, shape, ratio, size, order, number, counting, patterns, classifications, and gravity. Physical skills include fine-motor control, coordination, visual perception, spatial orientation, eye-hand coordination, and balance. Language and literacy skills include labeling, vocabulary, planning, sequence, order, representation, and symbols. Multiple opportunities abound as well to develop such social and emotional skills as cooperation, problem solving, making choices, risk taking, trial and error, and self-regulation.
Here’s an example: At Westland when children study the L.A. Harbor, they visit the harbor, talk to the people who work there, make drawings, and then back at school build a functioning harbor together, complete with a mini-economy, out of unit blocks and large hollow blocks. They articulate and solve problems and negotiate and cooperate, while they replicate and seek to fully understand the world around them.