Although the block center is always open during our free choice play time during the day, the materials that are placed in the center often change for variety. Another way we intentionally plan in this center is to provide challenges to the children to bring their learning to another level. Recently the challenge was to build a symmetrical building. We had been building with plastic cups of various sizes and then we opened the wooden blocks to be used in conjunction with the cups. Several of the children had already built symmetrical buildings in their attempt to balance the cups. We carried over this learning to discussing how to make the entire building symmetrical. We looked at photographs of real buildings that were both symmetrical and asymmetrical. We discussed how to tell if a structure is symmetrical as well as strategies to use while building. As the children built their structures we were able to talk to them about the features of their buildings and guide them to self check if they indeed built a symmetrical structure. This challenge gave them an intentionality to their building and helped them to learn an important mathematical and design concept.
To carry this learning to the home you can ask your child if what he is building is symmetrical or if he intends to build a symmetrical building before he starts. As you drive or walk around the neighborhood look for buildings that are symmetrical and comment on their features. Do you tend to see more buildings that are symmetrical or asymmetrical? Use words such as balanced, even, uneven, lopsided, crooked, symmetrical and so on when talking with your child.