As previously stated, children come to school with developmental delays in language. There is a profound lack of vocabulary in both expressive and receptive areas. The new curriculum is focused on this issue. The “Whole Language” approach integrates all subject areas. Math activities include writing about solutions to problems and language arts lessons may include writing or talking about math activities. Children are working in groups and encouraged to talk among themselves to seek solutions.
Block building provides a excellent opportunity for children coming from cognitively deprived pre-school environments to develop language skills. Conversations between teacher and child or among children about the activity encourage expression based on the experience. Photographs or drawings of constructions accompanied by written descriptions might be exhibited or used to develop stories. Journals may be kept to document a child’s creations done over time. Younger children will need to dictate words or sentences, volunteers from other grades can be helpful in this effort.
We know that language is based on patterns. Pre-writing and reading activities include patterning and visual discrimination exercises. Activities with blocks reinforce these objectives.
Materials abound to assist teachers in preparing activities with blocks. Observation of children at play in the block area and a belief in the value of blocks make them a most useful tool in the teaching/learning process.