Blocks – what to have

So you have to set up for blocks.  What are the bare-bones supplies that you need?  Here’s a list to think about:

Should have available at all times:

  • Large blocks (preferably on a shelf labeled with shapes)
  • Small & large cars/trucks/tractors – not too many, but enough to have some to drive around
  • Collection of people (plastic dolls)
  • Large legos

Items to switch out:

  • Small blocks
  • Plastic animals
  • Buildings
  • Sensory blocks

Remember, you don’t have to have everything out all at once.  My block area really doesn’t change much during the year.  We add books and clipboards occasionally, but the children do a wonderful job creating structures.

Big blocks

 This is the corner in blocks that holds the bigger blocks.  The white shelves have outlines of each kind of block (drawn with permanent marker) so they are easily put back.  The box holds our ‘castle blocks’.

 Blocks 2

This is the opposite corner.  Each shelf has a digital photo of the item – attached with a sheet of clear contact paper. 

Less is more! 

Get a digital camera!

If you have had any introduction to the Reggio Emilia approach, you will know that documenting children’s learning with photos is a valuable tool.  The beauty of having a digital camera is that you can instantly see the photo, you can store the images on a computer to retrieve at a later date, and you have many options for printing.  (Fine, medium, or ‘draft’ – to save on ink/toner.)

Find one that is easy to use, and sturdy.  They make a great ice-breaker for the child at home visits!  “Would you like to see your picture after I take it?”

We use a Sony FDMavica at school – the kind that can hold floppy disks.   It is nice when we share it between classrooms because teachers have their own supply of disks.

I- Spy Table

I Spy close-upI Spy Table


This is  work in progress.  Originally this table was the top of an old lighted drafting table.  I built a new bottom for it (to house storage baskets) and used it as our light table.  As luck would have it, the glass top broke.  (No injuries!)  It had been coved with particle board for well over a year, so this year we are turning it into an I-Spy Table.  Families and staff collected small, flat things that we encased in epoxy. It needs another coat and the wood table edges need a sanding & shining, but over all, it’s very fun!

Writing Center

This is a bare-bones version of our writing center.  In this picture there is a photo display of our class with everyone’s names (to encourage writing), pens & pencils, some tablets of paper, a lamp, and our name cards (photo & name of each child).  We try to change things out – adding/subracting envelopes, different kinds of paper, stencils, an old typewriter occasionally.   It is all to encourage them to work with pens & pencils and have success!  We praise everything they do – even the scribbles of the three-year-olds in the afternoon because that is writing!

The pen holder on the ‘wall’ is a homemade version of an expensive holder I saw in a magazine.  (They wanted $69 for it!  Mine probably cost $20 total.  It’s a little rough, but as I said: I’m handy – but not skilled handy.)

writing centerpottery-barn.jpg


Our sunny block areaMake sure your block area is large enough to accomodate big structures.  Have other items in the area besides blocks – cars, plastic animals, sturdy figurines, clipboards & paper in case children want to draw their structures.  Decide if you want to limit the number of people that can play in the area (we can comfortably fit 4).  I bought the shelves under the window at a local home supply store and secured them to each other so it is one unit.

The white shelf behind the cots has large blocks, and there is a small box beside it that contains ‘castle’ blocks.