Low teacher engagement
- Blocks or other building materials (TIP: provide building materials students are familiar with so they are more willing to stop building and begin drawing)
Setup — Less than 5 minutes
Put paper and pencils in the block area.
- One or more students build a structure using the provided building materials.
- After completing the building, each child draws a picture of the structure, either by drawing the individual blocks or the overall shape, giving children a chance to explore spatial relationships.
- Drawing gives children a chance to explore positions of blocks in space. The drawings do not have to accurately represent their structure.
- When first introducing this activity, keep children engaged by checking in periodically and asking questions about their drawings and position of the blocks.
- Ask students to describe their drawing to each other or the teacher. You can also help them write labels on their drawings. Labels can include building features (e.g., door, chimney), shape, material type, number of blocks, and information about the building (e.g., the bridge is empty).
Checks For Understanding
To deepen children’s learning about early math concepts, talk and ask questions while doing this activity together. Here are some examples to get you started:
- “What shape blocks did you use in your building?”
- “What shapes did you use in your drawing?”
- “I see the tower is at the back of your building. Where is the tower in your drawing?”
- “Is that block at the bottom or top of your building? Does it go at the top or the bottom of your drawing?”
- “Where does that ramp go in your drawing? How do you know where to put it?”
Once you have tried out the activity, here are some other things you can do. Try these modifications to keep the activity interesting and challenging for students all year:
- Provide students with a drawing or photograph of a building and have them use building materials to recreate that structure.
- Practice drawing structures with 2-3 blocks before building and drawing larger constructions.
- Help students take a picture of their building that they can use to help draw their picture.
- Have children take a photograph of their building and then draw a picture based on the photo.
- Draw architectural blueprints of a structure and build based on their plans.
- Children trade drawings and use them as blueprints to build new buildings. Compare new versions to the original versions of the buildings.
- Have students create a structure with a specified number of blocks or add a constraint to the construction (e.g., “Create the tallest building with only 10 blocks” or “Make a building using only rectangular blocks”).
- Have students draw the building a second time from a different angle and compare the two drawings.