Tips for Teachers - 4 Steps for Setting Up a Center that Works!

According to a preschool classroom “…is especially designed to encourage your child’s natural curiosity and desire to learn about her world.” Since children learn by doing, hands-on learning centers are a critical part of the early learning classroom design. A mix of social/emotional centers, focused on things like art, sand/water, and dramatic play, and academic centers building literacy, science, and math skills, is ideal. Block play centers are particularly popular as they provide an opportunity for young children to work independently or collaboratively with their peers, hone social and language skills, use their imaginations and creativity, develop fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and dexterity, and put basic math, science, and architectural principles into play – all at once! See below for some tried-and-true tips and tricks for setting up a block play center that works and remember, rotating centers every few weeks helps keep things fresh and fun!

  • 1 .Pick Your Spot – The great thing about block centers is that they don’t require any furniture. That said, they do require enough space for multiple children to work together, without getting in each other’s way, and for larger-scale building toys, like Brackitz STEM building toys. A spacious corner is generally a good home for block play and also provides two walls to help contain the pieces (you might consider a 3rd panel to create a clear work area and prevent spreading). Carpet will muffle some of the noise of block play (many teachers like rugs with pre-printed roads and buildings), but go low-pile so stacking and lining up is easy. Speaking of noise, you’ll want to place your block play center away from centers requiring quiet or focus, like math manipulative stations or reading corners.
  • 2 .Provide Some Choices – Alternate between a variety of building materials at your block play center. Younger kids may have a more rewarding experience with soft blocks, cardboard blocks, and wooden blocks; older kids may appreciate Lincoln Logs and LEGOs. Brackitz are great for all ages, enabling even little hands to build bigger, taller, and wider structures than other building materials. Whether you provide all materials options at once or change them out every few days, consider adding some props, like plastic animals, people, and paper and crayons for home-made additions.
  • 3 .A Place for Everything – Stacking tubs are a great way to store your educational construction toys. Make sure you have a separate tub for each type of building material and label each bin (a photo of each material is a great touch!). At the end of the day, the last group at the block play center should return all of the building materials to their proper bins; then you stack them up and out of the way. Check out Fun-A-Day's great post on block play center organization for more storage ideas.
  • 4 .Provide Challenges – In addition to providing time for open-ended building play, you might occasionally consider providing loose building guidelines. Instruction can be as simple as building as tall or wide as a student can or as specific as building their individual dream homes or working together to create a city. Brackitz building toys are perfect for collaborative work, with pieces large enough for multiple children to work on the same build without bumping elbows (or loosing tempers!).

Brackitz is the only construction toy that lets kids design any structure they can imagine - anything. Our unique, connect-anywhere brackitz enables kids to create large scale, portable, 3-D structures – with no instructions or limitations – all while learning real-life math, science, engineering, and architecture skills.

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