Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Block Project: Creating a Block Set For Another Class

One day, the kids were not showing responsibility in the block area. They were not cleaning them up, and when they did, they were not organizing them on the clearly marked shelves to make it easy for friends to find the blocks they need. I mentioned that we were very lucky to have a block set! There were many kindergarten classes in our school that did not have a block set for architecture and engineering! I wish I had a camera to show all the hands that flew up to their mouths as they gasped in horror at the thought! As they were not in the mindset (yet) of seeing themselves as being able to problem solve on this scale, it took some guiding to get them to the idea that THEY could make a block set for a class that needs them!   This began our project!Our Driving Question:  How can we as Engineers design a beautiful, strong block set for a class that does not have one?
We brainstormed what we would need for materials and came up with this list. We added to the list as the project went on as they learned about more 3D shapes. 

The kids brought in all kinds of recyclables that we could use as blocks.

We explored the recyclables to make sure they would work by creating structures with them.

They worked very well! (I think they had more fun with these than our own wooden blocks set!)

We sorted them by shape.  This started a conversation about 3D shapes! We noticed most of the blocks were cylinders and rectangular prisms.

We knew space was limited so we went through the recyclables and kept only the ones that were sturdy enough to use.  Anything crushed was recycled.  This way they could fit in one bin.

The next step was to paint the boxes.  We decided to put glue in the paint to make it stick better.

Painting was messy business!  They loved it!  Next they decorated them to make them beautiful. They had to think for a while and come up with a plan before they started.

Here is the finished set!  They are so beautiful!

We read a lot of books about Archetecture to figure out what all could be built with their blocks.  Here are a few of them. 

They also explored with our own block area to see what all could be built! 

The kids brainstormed things that could be created with these blocks.  They each signed up to create one of the structures of their choice. 

They designed their own structure and created a blueprint for children to follow.  A photo of the structure was added also. These were made into an Architectural Plan Book for the class receiving the blocks.

The next step is to finish the book of blueprints and present the blocks to the lucky class!
Through this project, the students became a bit obsessed with 3D shapes!  They found them everywhere we went and created them in many areas of our room. 

The friend who created the snowman below in the clay area pointed out to me that snowmen are made with spheres and their hats are cylinders!

The friend below noticed that our lamp was a cylinder!

They have learned to identify the cube, cone, rectangular prism, sphere, cylinder, pyramid, and some have discovered an octagonal prism!
Here is our Documentation Wall documenting our experiences with this project. This is our way as a project based classroom of sharing our experiences and what we have learned with parents and other teachers. 

You may notice the skyscrapers on the bottom. Through this project, an interest in different forms of architecture has emerged. We have been obsessed with skyscrapers and created this skyline based on what they noticed. But that may be another post as the kids may extend this inquiry on architecture further! We will see!  
Below you will find the main standards covered during this project! Of course these are on top of the 21st Century Skills they had to learn and use as we worked on this project such as problem solving, collaboration, persistence, creative thinking, critical thinking, personal expression, dealing with frustration and so many more.
Standards Covered During This Project
  • W.K.2- I can write, draw and tell to teach.
  • L.K.1- I can print many uppercase and lowercase letters. 
  • L.K.2- I can write a letter or letters for most consonant  sounds.
  • L.K.2- I can use what I know about phonics to write words.
  • K.CC.6- I can tell if a group of objects in one group is greater than, less than, or equal to a group of objects in another group.
  • K.MD.2- I can compare how two objects are similar or different.
  • K.G.1- I can find shapes around me.
  • K.G.1- I can tell about shapes.
  • K.G.1- I can compare shapes.
  • K.G.3- I can name shapes.
  • K.G.4- I can tell about and compare 2D and 3D shapes.
  • K.G.5- I can make shapes using materials like sticks and clay.
  • K.G.6- I can use simple shapes to make larger shapes.


  1. I so VERY MUCH appreciate your blog! It's always inspiring and so detailed and well documented. You are doing an incredible service for your fellow ECE teachers and their students. Wish I could observe you but am in California - going through my own much slower transformation to a project based learning curriculum. Thanks for your ideas, energy, and the coolest kindergarten site of all!

    1. Thank you Eileen! I am so glad that you enjoy my blog! Thank you so much for your kind words!
      Darla Myers

  2. Wow! This is an amazing project! Thanks so much for showing all the different steps your children went through in this project. You make play based project learning look so easy! I appreciate your posts so much! Erica

  3. Your block project is inspiring me to try some project/play-based learning in my own kindergarten classroom, just a few miles north of you in Piqua! Thank you for showing us how you incorporate play into Common Core Standards in your class!

    1. You are very close! I am so glad you are inspired! I would love for more public school teachers to see that it is possible to get the common core in with I quiry based and project based learning! Good luck in your journey!