Block Play, Writing, and Letters


One thing I often think about is how regular play peers would influence Greysen and Moon’s play. While we do meet up regularly with friends, we often do so in parks and others’ homes, so many of the girl’s playthings are only used by them. Greysen’s interest in block play is often short-lived. I find myself bringing novel materials into our block space to create an irresistible play area. Irresistible, that is, by connecting it to things she is already showed an interested in.


I had some chalkboard contact paper left over from the holidays, so I added some to the blocks after Greysen had identified the park as the place her animals were headed. I then asked if she would like to write or label the other parts of the park. She was happy to.



When I started working in a classroom of two year-old children several years back, the children frequently came up to me, asking me to write their names for them. After getting to know the children a bit better, my teaching team and I focused on trying to build the children’s confidence in their ability to communicate ideas through writing without having adults do it for them.


Since then, children having confidence in their ability to write has been more important to me than the toddler’s ability to accurately recreate a letter or other symbol. As their interests change and their physical capabilities develop, writing itself will be more important. But for now, the audience (Greysen and I) know that this sign says “swing.” Mission accomplished.


Greysen has erased and marked this paper a couple of times so far and its still looks great.


I also spotted some painted wooden letters in the bargain bins at Michaels. I bought these two (the first letters of  my daughters’ first names) as a way to have letters in their play space. Exposure.


It turns out that these blocks are helping Greysen generate some play ideas.  The “s” has been used as a place to put small animals, and the “m” was used in stacking. I also expect the chalkboard contact paper to be useful in play in several more ways.




I think some letters will lend themselves better to building with than others, but they brought so much interest to the block play that I am heading back to Michaels to add some more letters to our collection.


What are your favorite ways to incorporate writing into block play?

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