Building our block center

There were lots of requests to show more of our block center, so this is for you!

This year we’ve got some master builders, so not only did we want to provide them with enough blocks we wanted our block center to be as accessible and conducive to play and pick up as possible. Our blocks were in storage over the summer break, so we started by cleaning and sorting them into like piles.

After we separated our blocks into piles, it was on to figuring out how all of the blocks were going to fit on the two shelves in a way that made sense to the children. We decided what made most sense was sorting the blocks by shape: long rectangles, medium rectangles, squares, triangles, etc. On the shelf next to our squares and rectangles we put our irregular shaped blocks while still keeping alike shapes together: triangles with triangles, circles with circles, and so on.


Once we figured out our orientation of the blocks within both shelves, we began to create a map so our students could see where the blocks belong and put them back on the shelves on their own.

A note on orientation: this may take some time. It’s important to find out how the blocks can fit comfortably on your shelves with room in between. It’ll take some maneuvering before you figure out just how your shelf can hold all your blocks with wiggle room- at least it did for us!

To make the map, I simply taped two pieces of white paper together which fit the depth and length of our shelf perfectly. You may need to get a large piece of paper and fit it to the bottom of your shelf. I would suggest doing that before you trace any of your blocks so you know where to trace them. I then aligned the paper to the edge of the shelf and traced the blocks that corresponded with each stacked pile,

Once your map is traced, you’ll place the map in the bottom of your shelf and tape the edges to secure it. Once secured, stack your blocks where the map indicates!

I hope this helps you set up a block center that is challenging and engaging to your students!

More to grow on:

Why Your Preschoolers Should Play with Blocks!

Block Center Tumbling Down

Available on Amazon


By |2019-01-14T11:28:47+00:00August 28th, 2018|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Cheryl Vlach September 2, 2018 at 9:44 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing the process. I could make assumptions, but I wonder if you would share a bit about choosing to add small pails to your block shelf?… Also, what have you observed about this addition and how they are used. Thanks and keep up this important work with Debra and the littles. 🙂

    • Abigail Little September 3, 2018 at 9:40 am - Reply

      Keep a look out for an upcoming post about this… 🙂

      Thank you for the very thoughful questions!

  2. J September 2, 2018 at 11:33 pm - Reply

    How do you make sure the students clean up correctly?

    • Abigail Little September 3, 2018 at 9:38 am - Reply

      The block map has been extremely effective for us. Also we make sure to not get our heads set on cleaning up the ‘right way’ but rather instilling the practice of pick-up. There’s an upcoming post about the distinction between the teacher/adult perception vs. the child’s perspective- Keep an eye out for that! Pick-up also encourages the classroom to work as a team and build community 🙂

  3. Kathleen September 3, 2018 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    Are the buckets empty?

    • Deborah Stewart September 6, 2018 at 7:10 pm - Reply

      They have cars, fabric, loose parts, and wooden spools in them.

  4. […] Building our block center […]

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