Thursday, May 29, 2014

Build, build, build! The Benefits of Block Play

My boys love to build!

They build with Legos, with blocks, in video games, and even on the beach with sand and pails.

They just love to build.  I love to see them building and encourage them as much as I can.



The boys got some new Minecraft books and today they pulled out both of the Kindles and spent the morning working side by side and looking over one another's shoulders trying to find and create bigger and better things in their worlds.  The boys asked me to look up how to connect the Kindles and asked me a bunch of questions about their program that I could never hope to answer.

I'm just not at all tech- savvy.

I was able to find some instructions on Amazon and after three or four tries we got it to work and linked the kindle Minecraft worlds together!  The younger two boys then spent the rest of the morning playing together in Minecraft land.  They thought it was hilarious to be able to see one another and work together to build or destroy things.  We talked about respecting one another's buildings and working together.  Amazingly enough there wasn't any fighting. 

Alec reads out loud while the other two boys play

Alec showing Ian how make orange meeps. 

All day long, I felt like I should have had something planned for the boys to do;  a science project to try out, a fun/ messy art project to work on, a field trip, something, anything... but I didn't.

I've definitely been relying on unschooling more and more and I'm trying to look for all the little ways they learn on their own. 

It helps make me feel better and feel like I have something to show for all that we do.

I had offered to read a chapter in Harry Potter and we ended up reading a chapter and a half.  The boys are still pointing out ways in which the books and movies differ.  They're even comparing the book & movie to the video game that they have for the Wii and the DS.  When I was done reading the boys went off and played.

They played ALL DAY!

Sometimes they played together and sometimes they played by themselves but I really didn't see any of them for the majority of the day.  It's so nice to see them all getting along (it doesn't always happen so I make sure to enjoy it when they do). 

The two younger boys locked themselves in Evan's room with the kindles and chargers and played Minecraft and with Evan's Lego sets.  They were content to play together and the only times I saw them was when they were hungry and wanted to eat.

 Ian was content to play by himself most of the day and spent the morning building various garages, trucks and things with his Lego pieces.  He worked hard and eventually decided to take a break and watch a movie after lunch.  It was such a quiet afternoon it was hard to believe my kids were home with me!



I almost forgot all about the boys Lego class, luckily I remembered just in time!  We piled into the car and headed to their class.  On the way we listened to some more of the House of Hades.  I had an hour or so to myself while they were at class and I went to the library to pick up some books that had come in for us, I went to vote on our town and local school budget (of which we talked about in great detail the previous night because the boys were upset that they couldn't vote.  We talked about why you have to be 18 and how to register to vote, the importance of voting and how it all works), and then I came home to start getting dinner ready.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Amazon had a great homeschooling book as a free Kindle download  called Learning Every Minute: Activities for Homeschoolers, Unschoolers, and Extra- Schoolers Alike.  I can't wait to read it; I'm always looking for new and exciting ideas.  Maybe it will jump start our days and get us out of this rut we seem to be in.

Don't get me wrong we're really enjoying our days but I just don't feel like we're doing much of anything (and I hate that feeling!).

I know that play is important and that my boys are learning a lot through play, but sometimes I hate the feeling I get that they're just playing.  I have a hard time seeing connections being made and new learning taking place and so I kind of forget that they are learning.  I like to have a bit of a mix between school and play so I don't start feeling that way and project to the kids that play isn't important.  We don't have to tackle a ton of subjects but I do like to have activity ideas ready for them just in case they aren't getting along so well and to keep us kind of balanced.

The boys were so excited to show off what they had been working on at their Lego class when I went back to pick them up.  They built submarines and buildings (to house the submarines).

They all asked me to take pictures of their creations and explained all the parts and pieces, how they work, what they stand for, etc.  As I sat down to write this blog I realized that even thought I hadn't taught anything and I felt like the boys weren't doing much of anything with their day they did do a lot of building!

They built a lot of things with their Lego bricks, they built in their Minecraft world, and they built new creations with the magna blocks too. 

Building with blocks of all kinds help build:

  •  problem solving and logic skills
  • develop creativity
  • develop spatial thinking
  • hand eye coordination
  • language skills (as they describe their buildings)

Evan's submarine with the top open

Ian's sub from the side

   
He then asked me to take a picture of his engine. 
   
Ian's new house; today it has a concave roof and a different shaped driveway too. 
Thinking back over our day I was able to remember that they had role played Harry Potter after dinner running through the house casting spells at one another and assigning themselves different roles.  They remember many of the spells they read about or hear in the movies and they enjoy practicing them.  Tonight they were trying to escape from Voldemort's snake ( a scene we had watched during dinner as a special treat tonight).

Even though it was not nice out the boys managed to get in some exercise too.  They  joined their father in our little weight room and worked on physical fitness.  They had Nerf wars and worked on hand/ eye coordination, tactical maneuvers, and good sportsmanship.   They ran, jumped, rolled and wrestled (as boys are likely to do). 

We finished up our night by reading some library books before bed and if you add that to all that they read in their Minecraft books, Pok√©mon books, and the other new books they got at the bookstore they did a lot of reading in one day.

So I guess even though they "just played" they did find ways to learn in almost all subject areas. 

Linking Up With: Pinch of Joy



19 comments :

  1. My grandsons love to build, build, build as well. Besides having thousands of pieces of legos, they love using trios, and have just begun getting hooked on magformers. I agree that it is nice to have a good mix of school and play, but I remember from my teacher courses that people who like to play with "construction" type materials are building their mathematical skills. So children who "build" are doing both school and play at the same time.

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  2. "but I just don't feel like we're doing much of anything"- Are you serious? You ended the post with they did a lot of reading today and that is fantastic! How many kids do you know like reading? I don't know many!

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    1. BTW theres a whole class for Lego? Awesome!

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    2. True! It always feels like routine and I just kind of forget all that "other" stuff we're doing counts too. Our town has an after school Lego camp/ class for a few hours each week that my kids were participating in. They had giant bins of Lego pieces all sorted by color and the kids were challenged to build something to go along with a theme each week. They really enjoyed it a lot.

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    3. The closest we've got to was the Lego marketing activity at the mall!

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    4. We are quite lucky. We used to have a Lego camp in the summer too; this company called Playwell technologies offers Lego summer camps complete with motors and gear boxes for moving Lego creations. My boys just LOVED them.

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  3. Kids do learn through play! As long as you have a general idea of what they should know and by what age, they should be fine. I don't know much about unschooling, myself. Thanks for linking up at the Family Joy Linky Party!

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    1. I figure that as long as we balance days of play with days of school work we should be good. I try to keep a general guideline for what they should know and as my boys are getting older we're moving slowly away from our unschooling roots to a slightly more structured school day.

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  4. I am a huge fan of block play. I love how the kids can create and play with what they created.

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    1. Me too! My kids will often have buildings and garages set up for days and weeks and keep playing with them, adding on or modifying them. I just had thought that they would outgrow block play once they got older and I love that, so far, they have not.

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  5. It's amazing how much kids learn when they are just "playing." I love all the Lego play and reading.

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  6. I want to keep my children learning through the summer too. These are some great ideas. Thanks for sharing at Mom-to-Mom Mondays.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! We try to keeping learning going year round and so I try to keep it nice and fun; that way they don't even seem to notice!

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  7. I know what you mean about wondering if they're getting "enough" learning. It's very hard for me to let go of the idea that they have to be filling in blanks or writing in some form for things to count as "school."

    So... then does the Lego tape I bought for Jack count as an educational expense??? LOL

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    1. I find that I either think of nothing but traditional schoolwork or else I end up thinking of EVERYTHING as schoolwork without any sort of in between.... so most days, yeah I'd say a Lego tape is an educational expense. LOL!

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  8. We love Legos and magna tiles. If your boys are into building you should definitely look into Keva Structures. They look overpriced for what they are but they're seriously my kids' favorite thing, and it keeps them playing blocks way past the time they've grown out of blocks.
    #MMBH

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    1. We LOVE Keva blocks!! They are so much fun and the possibilities are endless.

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