Stages of Block Play on a Lazy Susan

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Most block-building sets are composed of geometric shapes that stack and align with one another. What new forms of play do we see when we add dowels that fit into holes in a disk that revolves? In this video clip, we present children at different ages using Torno Torno from Learning Materials Workshop, including some of the play forms that, as a sequence, represent higher and higher levels of thinking. You might find it useful to take a developmental perspective as you co-play with children using these or similar blocks. The addition of a rotating platform adds some interesting variations that children love to explore, such as where the lead block will stop. The entire clip is divided into 7 segments, each treated as a more complex play form than the previous segments.

00:00 Block to Body – The child puts her finger into the hole of the block. At a young age, children use their bodies as a reference for understanding objects.

00:25 Block to Hole – The child works to insert the ball with pegs into the hole in the Lazy Susan. The task is slightly more difficult than inserting a simple peg because the ball occludes her view of what is happening at the end of the peg.

00:50 Block to Hole – Change Grip. The child has difficulty inserting the ball-with-peg into the hole, perhaps, as we mentioned above, because the ball itself hides the tip of the lower peg. She makes a strategic change of grasp by holding the block closer to the end that she wants to insert.

01:12 Blocks as Pair to Hole – The three-year- old child uses a more complex rule of placement, to wit, put a square under the sphere and then put the pair in the hole. Block play development can be sequenced this way, in terms of the complexity of the rule the child uses to build his structures.

01:37 Hole to Dowel (instead of Dowel to Hole). In this segment, the children move the holes to the upright dowels, instead of moving the peg to the hole in the Lazy Susan. Of course, the children first have to move the dowel (“peg”) to the hole to create the standing dowel, but what is interesting now is how the dowel becomes the passive recipient of the moving hole (the block), while before the same dowel was the active agent. Hole to Dowel is the reciprocal form of Dowel to Hole.

01:58 Two Holes to Pegs – If one hole can fit over one peg, what does one do with a block that has two holes at opposite ends?

02:18 Spinning the Blocks – In this last segment, notice how the child lets the Lazy Susan come to a stop. Notice how he checks the color of the blue cube and places it on the blue sphere. From his body language, pauses, choices, and gaze, we know that he is thinking. Is he intrigued by the way the blue cube appears to be chasing the yellow cube? Does he change the direction of the spin to make the yellow cube now chase the blue one? How can yellow change from the chased to the chaser when it has not changed position? This is the paradox of action in space and a Lazy Susan that spins affords play with such paradoxes as these.