Building block blueprints

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on May 6, 2012

in Block Blueprints, Changes, Children's Books, Creative Art

Anytime I read a story that my students seem to connect well with, I try to extend the concepts into other content areas of my classroom.  Sometimes, I have planned ahead and just assume, from prior experience, that my students will enjoy the book and other times I work on the fly (plan as we go along).

As I previously shared with you, we read the children’s book “Changes, Changes” by Pat Hutchins in our circletime and this was one of those “on the fly” activities we did to extend the reading into our day. You can view more about this book and our circletime activities that went with this book by clicking here: Building Block Literacy and Story Telling...

Since we were reading about blocks, our new word of the day (in PreK) was the word “block”.  As we often do, we illustrate our words through our artwork. Today we used our blocks to create a blueprint of blocks…

To create our blueprint, the children selected several blocks to trace around with a pencil. They were shown how they could start by placing the blocks on the paper first to create their block structure then start tracing. However, most of the children chose just to trace the blocks without giving much thought to what they might be building on their paper. Children need to be able to interpret the process in a way that makes sense to them or in a way that interests them so we kept the process open to doing things their own way…

Tracing blocks is challenging for small hands.  It takes practice to hold the block in place, hold a pencil, and trace around the edges all at the same time…

Once the prek children got the hang of tracing around the blocks and were ready to move on, then the children had the choice to trace over their lines again with permanent marker or they could skip this step and just begin painting their block tracings…

Each child chose the path they preferred…

Some traced again with the permanent marker (this is something we have done before) then painted their shapes and others went right to painting…

I think that just the process of tracing was the most important part of this project but I am sure my students will tell you that the painting was the most fun part of the process.  The children were each given four colors of paint and they could mix the colors to create more color if they wanted more colors…

And most of them did mix the paint colors. They just mixed their colors on a paper towel…

In the end, we had a broad range of final results from the quite colorful and abstract block blueprint…

To the more specifically designed block blueprint..

Even Miss Abby and I decided to try our own hand at this process. This is Miss Abby’s blueprint…

And this is mine…

The children were quite interested in watching Miss Abby make her block blueprint – no one seemed all that interested in mine!

I thought they all turned out quite beautiful…


Available on Amazon

Links to Grow on

Builders from Brick by Brick

Literacy in the Block Corner from Childhood 101

Stages of Block Play from Fairy Dust Teaching

This article is being shared with you by Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool - Sharing the wonders of early learning in action!

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1 Mud Hut Mama May 6, 2012 at 6:45 am

What a great idea for using building blocks. I will have to see if I can get a hold of that book. Looks like a lot of fun!

2 Fran May 6, 2012 at 10:12 am

I really like this. I am wondering about providing foam blocks in the same shapes as the real blocks that the kids use for some “printing” of their designs. I have a couple kiddos that build quite elaborate structures, but their fine motor control would not permit tracing (or would create frustration beyond imagination…not that I am against frustration as a learning curve, but limited!) Hmmmmm…..will be thinking of this one!

3 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 6, 2012 at 11:46 am

Haha – we don’t want to frustrate the kids. You could use contact paper – turn it sticky side up and let the children stick the blocks to the contact paper then trace it. This works great for beginning tracing skills because the blocks don’t move while tracing – especially the foam blocks. You can even paint it too – I should blog about this:) LOL!

4 Margaret@growingplay May 6, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Another great idea. To differentiate the activity for children who are not able to trace maybe add some laminated mats that have the blocks traced and the kids could match up to create building blue prints. You could also have copies available of the pre-made blueprints for the kids to paint or color.

Like the idea of the contact paper to help with tracing. Can you write on the sticky side of contact paper? Never tried that.

5 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 6, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Well, we do all the time but we use permanent markers all the time. I suppose you could use paint brushes to paint around the blocks for tracing too. Part of what I would like to see in this process is the older children trying to see how the blocks work together to form their own structures on the paper but for very young children, a matching activity would work very well as an alternative.

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