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Girls and Block Play

The experiences of childhood directly, consciously or unconsciously, affect our parenting styles, the character of our children, and the direction of societies.
Michael Lerner from Parenting and Its Distortions

 "While block play is essential for both boys’ and girls’ social, cognitive, language, and motor development, girls do not engage in block play as frequently as boys.  This situation can be attributed to the socialization process — children learn societal expectations for behavior and materials for both boys and girls — lack of experience for girls with blocks, and attitudes of peers that cause girls to feel unwelcome in the block center.  There are important differences in the way boys and girls play with blocks; girls use blocks to create an extension of their place in the world, whereas boys are often more intent on the creation of structures and the innovative use of materials.  Teachers need to be supportive and encouraging of girls to increase participation in the block center and to use diverse strategies to insure that girls gain the important skills that are associated with block play. " 

This advice comes from Barb Tokarz, writing in "Block Play: It's Not Just for Boys Anymore," which serves as the base for the Exchange Out of the Box Training Kit by the same name.  In the article she offers a number of ways to include children in block play including these:

"Locate the block corner next to dramatic play.  Children who are going shopping, to school, or to the doctors may come into the block center to build a car to travel in, or to build a structure that becomes the store or school.  Allow children to borrow materials from dramatic play to bring into the block corner to support and enrich their play.  Choose a time when the block center is not crowded and invite some girls to come in and play with you.  Sit on the floor with them and begin building, asking open-ended questions, and supporting them in problem solving if the need arises."

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