Block Building is Mind Building
Block building is an integral part of the early childhood curriculum at Stevens Cooperative School. From two-years-old to 2nd grade, the students learn on multiple levels as they move from stacking and balancing blocks in the preschool program to the creation of intricate structures that represent knowledge attained from in-depth studies conducted in 2nd grade. Blocks provide the means for children to explore and demonstrate their understanding of their immediate environment, the world around them, and the intricacies of their surroundings. They are given the opportunity to express their understanding of their social and physical worlds while fostering skills in negotiation, cooperation and collaborative problem-solving. The school’s block program allows children to understand concepts and develop subject-specific skills in ways most suited to their development, through hands-on and minds-on experience, verbal and physical interaction and creative expression.
A model of excellence, Stevens’ blocks program lays the foundation for more advanced study in the intermediate school and middle school, and develops spatial reasoning that later supports STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) learning.
The blocks program incorporates multiple areas of learning and development. Some of the skills that block building promotes include:
Block building teaches problem-solving, and as children advance, they move from experimenting with various materials to confidently selecting the blocks that best suit their designed creations. Students learn about engineering concepts, architecture and build a deeper understanding of why some designs succeed and other don’t.
Through the blocks program, the students develop their language and communication skills, talking about their structures and explaining the details of the buildings they have constructed when sharing out with their classmates and teachers. When acting as listeners, they are given the opportunity to understand and consider the perspectives of others.
Block building is constant experimentation. Students are learning science disciplines such as gravity, stability, weight and balance. Children engage in experimental learning -- when a structure falls down, they experiment some more. They gain an understanding of cause and effect and experience firsthand lessons in gravity, weight and balance.
Our blocks program encourages the use of creativity and imagination, problem-solving through trial and error, and critical thinking. Students practice all levels of play, including solitary, parallel and cooperative play. When sharing information with the class about their structures, the students are learning to listen and respect others, and practicing sharing their own voice with classmates.
In 2nd grade, students engage in an intensive study of the Brooklyn Bridge, its construction, history and importance to the development of New York City. The collaborative recreation of the Brooklyn Bridge is an important milestone at Stevens. Learn more in this article from the Stevens SCOOP.