Sunday, January 17, 2016


Call it like it is. You can call it pre-first grade or first grade prep or standards boot camp or anything you want. But you should NOT call it “kindergarten” if there are no wooden blocks in the classroom!
Let me explain…

In 1840 German Friedrich Frobel coined the term “kindergarten” meaning “a place where children can grow in a natural way…like plants in a garden.” He designed interactive materials known as FROBEL GIFTS, which included blocks. Wooden blocks have been a basic learning tool in kindergartens since the early 1900’s. However, many districts are removing blocks from kindergarten in favor of “rigor” and standards.

For parents who are concerned about their children’s educational experience as a five year old, a very simple question to help them determine if the program is appropriate or not might be, “DO YOU HAVE BLOCKS?”

I’m not talking about plastic linking blocks or measuring cubes. I’m talking about standardized wooden blocks, or as we used to call them unit blocks. Why do I have this hang up on wooden blocks? Attending a kindergarten without blocks would be like going to a football game that doesn’t have a football or a cooking class without pots and pans.

What do children learn from blocks?
I am convinced that if “the powers that be” who removed blocks from early childhood classrooms understood the value of block play they might not have been so quick to toss them out. Blocks are a natural element and in this world of plastic and manufactured goods, it feels good just to hold a block. Blocks can be used to help children develop concepts of number, size, shape, space, and weight. They also encourage imagination, language, social skills, self-confidence, and motor skills. And, with a little creativity, you can use blocks to reinforce other academic skills and standards. Come back tomorrow and you’ll see language arts in the block center.

Now you tell me.  Would children learn more from 
constructing this or from going tap and swish?