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“Blocks to Robots” at Pooh Corner

May 23, 2008

Ms. Su-Fen Lin, director of our Pooh Corner pre-school recently gave me the book, “Blocks to Robots” by Marina Umachi Bers to read. I think this was because over the last several years as the Director of Community Education, Ms. Lin and I have had numerous philosophical conversations about early childhood education. These discussions often centered around what does the future hold for our youngest learners who are housed at Houghton School.

My first exposure to early childhood education curriculum was the High Scope philosophy that Pooh Corner used starting in the 1990’s. I then learned about the Reggio framework that we now have been incorporating into the early childhood curriculum. Both of these focus on “Key Experiences” that children may learn. For example, “Listening and Responding” is one of those experiences. You ask a child to “tell me where you want to play next.” They respond, “I want to play with the blocks. I want to build a castle today.” Throughout this conversation, the child is encouraged to “listen to the question and respond.” This curriculum also provides support for staff in creating developmentally appropriate play/learning spaces.

“Blocks to Robots” builds on the High Scope and the Reggio foundation. It emphasizes that playful learning can be blended with science, math and technology even with “blocks” and a variety of other play materials. If the above child played with blocks that tumbled in, a discussion can occur “why the castle fell down.” This fun activity provides children with complex concepts based on a constructivist approach to teaching and learning that is fundamental to their healthy development. I am eager to witness the creative, problem solving projects that our pre-school students will participate in next year using this approach.

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