complex materials prompt inventive design

I am thrilled to write my first 2013 post for Zella. Bring on the New Year and new stories about children and their learning processes.

I have been thinking about the complexity of play and the importance of offering diverse materials for construction. Block play combined with pieces that roll or tilt or stack increase children's ways of thinking about balance, symmetry or design. 
Wow. Using brick blocks, window blocks, kapla block, and carefully placed blue rolling balls on upper tiers. Wow.
Observing the choices of these two children as they built this raised tower was fascinating.
Notice the exact symmetry of placed colored brick blocks, the equally symmetrical placement of window blocks in rectangular and triangle shapes, and the criss-cross kapla blocks placed on top. Amazing. 
Then, add carefully balanced blue and red rolling balls to the tower. Each ball was set slowly, made sure it didn't roll, then the hand let go and went to get another ball. 
This kind of work is no accident.

What kind of materials do you offer to prompt inventive construction and a unique kind of small motor work? 

 Happy New Year and Happy Building with Complex Materials.


  1. I love block play. My own children have been very busy since Christmas Day playing with Magna-tiles, Tegu blocks, Littlest Pet Shop animals and a variety of metal washers and ball bearings. The washers will stand up on their sides on the Tegu blocks but lay flat on the Magna-tiles. Have been looking at a big box of Kapla blocks - you can never have too many blocks right?

    1. Lovely combination of materials that your children are integrating! Yes, Kapla blocks are wonderful and can never have too many!

  2. I have been adding sticks and shells to playdough and other experiences to prompt fine motor development and creative expression - i love how the most 'special' resources are as easy to find as looking outside :)

    1. Anonymous - I love the idea of adding natural materials like sticks or shells to see how children might combine these into a playdough scene. Absolutely agree that 'special' is really in the find and presentation, not at all about the money or store-bought. Nature rocks.


Please share your ideas, comments and feedback! Thanks!