Melissa & Doug Unit Blocks Week: Blueprint for Block Fun

September 5, 2012 at 4:04 pm 5 comments

If your little builders are ready to take their block play to another level, try creating a set of “plans” for them to follow.  Here are a few “blueprint” activities we especially like:

1. FLOORPLAN: Trace a building (or wall, shape, or pattern) on a piece of extra-large construction paper and ask the child to lay blocks on top of the paper to fill it in.

BEGINNER TIP: Use a basic square block to trace out each unit, one by one, to give the child the simplest template to follow. Add to the challenge by creating more square spaces than there are square blocks—forcing the child to look for equivalencies and make substitutions.

EXPERT TIP: Create a shape out of multiple blocks and trace only the outer edge to create a more open-ended puzzle.

CREATIVE EXTENSION: Ask the child to build on the foundation she’s made by stacking blocks on top to make a building.

2. ELEVATION: Create a building elevation (side view) on a piece of paper by tracing Unit Blocks. Then ask the child to copy the flat picture on the page by stacking blocks to make an upright building in the same shape.

BEGINNER TIP: Start with a very simple shape—such as a triangle on top of a rectangle—to help the child grasp the concept of transforming a 2-D image into a solid building.

EXPERT TIP: Create two separate plans—a front elevation and a side elevation—and ask the child to copy both in her building.

CREATIVE EXTENSION: Ask the child to imagine what type of building the drawing represents (a school or a house, for example) and add more blocks to create the kind of trees or vehicles that might be seen there.

3. SCALE: Sketch a building plan on a smaller piece of construction paper and on a smaller scale, and ask the child to create the building with Unit Blocks.

BEGINNER TIP: Recreate the look of Unit Blocks on a smaller scale by tracing dominoes, dice, or other small, rectangular objects. Keep the proportions consistent with the Unit Blocks (rectangles: 1x1x2, 1x2x2, 1x2x4, 1x2x8) so the finished product looks like the plan!

EXPERT TIP: Sketch the mini building plan with only a basic outline so the child is challenged to figure out which block will work best.

CREATIVE EXTENSION: Instead of drawing a building plan, look for a picture in a magazine to serve as inspiration. It can be a building, a sculpture, a detergent bottle—whatever looks like fun! Cut out a few and let the child choose the challenge.

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright was a huge fan of building blocks as a child. This is one of the houses he designed when he grew up. Can you recreate it with Unit Blocks? (Photograph by IvoShandor)

We’d love to see pictures of your creations! Please send your digital images to We can’t wait to see what you’ve built. And, if your child is interested in learning more about architecture, here’s a definition you could share with them as they do these activities:

Entry filed under: Artistic Skills, arts & crafts for kids, By Age, By Skill, Cognitive Skills, Educational Activities, family activities, Family Time, For Parents, Imaginative Skills, Older Kids (12+), Older Kids (12+), Older Kids (5+), Preschoolers (3-4 years), Preschoolers (3-4 years), Preschoolers (3-4 years), Skill Building, Skill Building Tips, Toys. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

Melissa & Doug Unit Blocks Week: The History of “Unit Blocks” Melissa & Doug Unit Blocks Week: Mixing It Up with Pretend Play

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