{Toddler Explorations} Representing Blocks with Drawings

The other day Silas was working independently building with blocks. With a huge smile on his face, he came to get me from the other room to "show you something." He had built a pretty fantastic house and was very proud of it.

I asked him if I could photograph it and he told me that I could. We often look at photos on the computer of the things that he's made or the activities that we've done, but my plan is to start printing off the pictures of his block structures and keeping them in a binder that he can reference on his own.

One of the keys of Reggio learning is what is called "spiraling." Children create something, like a block structure, and then through representation and then re-representation they not only learn more about that structure (and all the things involved in building it -- balance, weight, color, shape, etc.), but also about their individual learning practice. It's one way to make the process of learning visible.

So, in this example, a child might draw their block structure and then they might try to rebuild it based on the drawing, adding to it along the way. Then they would redraw it and then maybe recreate it in another medium, such as clay, and on and on until the child decides that s/he is done. 

I had never asked Silas to do this before, but here was such an intricate structure and one that he had built completely on his own without anyone even in the same room; this was the perfect opportunity to introduce the concept. I simply asked him if he'd like to draw what he had built. He got really excited and said, "yeah!" I handed him a clipboard with some paper on it and then gave him the box of markers.

At first he thought that I meant for him to draw on the blocks themselves with the markers (a project for another day, perhaps?). I redirected him by getting my own paper and markers and told him that I was going to look at his block house and draw what I saw and then invited him to do the same. 

We hung his drawing on the wall and if he hasn't gone back to it again in a few days, I think I'll draw his attention to it and see if he remembers his block house and ask if he'd like to use his drawing to try and build it again. We'll see what happens!


  1. Cool! Interested to see what happens next...

  2. I so love your toddler explorations :) Thanks for sharing this :)