Building block literacy and story telling

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on May 5, 2012

in Building with Blocks, Changes, Children's Books, Circle Time, Mathematics, Patterning with Blocks

Over the past school year, I have watched my students go from building simple block structures to more complex block structures. The children’s play with blocks has also went from playing side-by-side with blocks to working together to build their structures…

We recently read a book during our circletime about building with blocks titled, “Changes, Changes” by Pat Hutchins.  This book has no words in it and upon first glance, it can seem like such a simple book to walk through together…

But each page of the book is filled with simple to complex structures built from blocks and as you read along, the blocks change into something new and as they change into new structures, the blocks tell a story along the way…

I am glad we didn’t read this book earlier in the school year because my students would not have been quite ready to build on this book the way they are now…

Having had lots of opportunities all throughout the year to build with blocks on their own has given my students the experience and tools they need to appreciate the complex building patterns shown throughout this book…

After reading the book,“Changes, Changes” by Pat Hutchins we created a few of our own block pictures then used them to tell a short story…

The children were told to count out a certain number of blocks first and see what they could build with them. I noticed that the children preferred to build up with the blocks on their canvas while I preferred to lay the blocks flat on my canvas…

This led to a discussion on horizontal versus vertical.   I don’t think I would have ever planned a lesson on horizontal versus vertical but when you find those teachable moments where there is genuine interest, you will find that it is a good time to introduce new vocabulary to the children’s library of language…

This simple exploration of blocks on our canvas also led to a discussion on how people use basic shapes like our blocks to build all kinds of man made materials like the houses we live in.  One child concluded that “all roofs are actually just triangles.” …

After we spent a few minutes in discussion and building with blocks, we finished off our circletime by making a few simple AB patterns with our blocks.  The students in my class are quite proficient at making patterns with just about any object we use in our classroom…

Adding the blocks and canvases created a very interactive and interesting circletime experience and gave the children time to share their block stories or creations with each other….

In my next post, I will share how we extended our exploration of blocks into the writing and art experience too…

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow on

DIY Estimating and Counting Easy Block Puzzles from In Lieu of Preschool

Yarn Block Painting by Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers, Oh My!

Sorting by shapes and colors by Crayon Freckles

Stamping with blocks from Teaching Two and Three Year Olds

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