The blocks program provides the foundation for social studies in the 5s, 6s and 7s Groups, and the program
takes on a new structure at these ages. Up until this age, the children have built and put away their buildings on a daily basis. Beginning in the 5s, children work as a full group to discuss and plan their building work, and often keep their buildings up for weeks at a time. The children are expected to work with a partner and build a single, reality-based building that they research and refine over time. Other times, the whole Group works together on a specific block scheme, such as Grand Central Station or the Brooklyn Bridge. The children are working towards a scaled, representational construction that reflects their growing store of knowledge about the city, its history and the interconnectedness of the world. In addition, children are expected to work together toward a common end, resolve conflicts, make compromises and recognize each other's needs and abilities.
Research skills are developed through trips, use of the Library and general inquiry. The children take many trips in order to further their studies, including research on the subjects of transportation and the many businesses and jobs found in New York City.
Unit blocks are allfractional units or multiples of one another, and present many opportunities for learning math. In the course of their work with the material, children experience number sense, symmetry and patterns, mapping and measurement, sorting and classifying, spatial orientation, multiplication, fractions and geometry. Through repeated use of these concrete materials, children come to hone and internalize these mathematical concepts. When they are then taught math in a more formal way, the children are given the language and symbols for these concepts that they already understand intuitively.
Work with the blocks integrates many other aspects of the program as well. Geography, language arts, science, woodworking and art are also natural outcomes of block work and the social studies curriculum.
Now used in schools the world over, unit blocks inspire creativity and enhance intellectual, physical, social and emotional development. Through block play, children learn about the world and their place in it. Block buildings become the backdrop for the development of academic skills, collaborative problem-solving, vivid narratives and powerful imaginative thinking.