Monday, November 7, 2011

Girls Need More Block Play!

While attending our state OCTM math conference last month, I attended a great session with Barbara and Diane from Bowling Green State University.  I have to apologize, I didn't save my program and I didn't write down their last names.  I walked away from their session and immediately made an instructional decision for our classroom.  Have blocks out daily!  Research is showing girls get less block play and this sets them up for a disadvantage mathematically with geometry.  Less block play is fostering a spatial deficit. 

I returned to my classroom and each day since blocks have been a morning choice.  I took an inventory of the blocks in my room and discovered there were lots.  I have a three dimensional block set in natural wood.  I have colored one inch cubes.  I have natural wood one inch cubes.  I have a colored set of building blocks that's perfect for a table top and I have the traditional larger wooden blocks great for building on the floor.  I think offering a variety of blocks provides choices and will create more spatial flexibility.  I'm only offering one set at a time right now so it's something different daily.  I was thrilled last week when three of my girls wanted to show me what they did with blocks.  We are defying research, we are building spatial knowledge, we can do geometry in kindergarten!


  1. Mandy~
    I am struggling with blocks in my math workshop. I have a few boys who choose block everyday. I know blocks and building is absolutely math, but... In our room kids set goals for math workshop and make choices to support these goals. I question whether the boys have an understanding of how their building supports math learning. Does that matter? Certainly kids learn even without their knowing, but building everyday? What are your thoughts?
    Hope this is clear.

  2. There was an article in last week's NY Times about the resurgence of block play. Take a look:

  3. Deb and Stacey,
    Thanks for your thoughts and adding to the conversation. I think the article Stacey shared will help you Deb a bit. I don't think learners always need to know how something builds on something else. I think it can take away from the discovery and aha that makes learning fascinating and intriguing. One thing you might want to do is gently nudge a day or two away from the blocks. Yes, to stretch them in another area but to also get other children, especially girls time there too. Have you ever heard of Van Heile's levels of geometrical thought? It was new to me a few years ago at OCTM but is an old mathematical guide for geometry development. You can find it on p 188-190 in Teaching Student Centered Mathematics by Van De Walle and I'm sure it's in Google. Enjoy.