Many people view unit blocks as a resource used only for construction. It is fairly obvious that children engaged with blocks internalise mathematical concepts such as fractions (half and quarter) and physical laws relating to balance and gravity. But using blocks to tell a story may be a new idea.
Gather a few children and give this a try: Pick up a large and small cylinder and start telling the story of "Little Red Riding Hood". With their inborn imagination, the children know immediately which is the mother and which is the daughter, and all it takes to represent the forest is a few tall blocks on end. Have the children help combine a few blocks for grandmother’s house or make a simple bridge for billy goats to cross. If you need a giant, try standing the tallest block on end. It gets really exciting!
A timid child can be given a block to involve them in the story; a bolder child may take the main character and continue the story. (I know a two-year-old who always wants to "be the wolf!" with his favourite-shape block.) Keep the building simple so the plot doesn’t get lost. The beauty is that children readily imagine detail, and the same block can be a bear, a bed, a car, or a boat. There is no limit to the number of stories you can tell with one set of blocks.
Now consider this – was Red Riding Hood English? African? Asian? Chubby? Thin? It doesn’t matter – she is whatever each child imagines her to be.
P.S. For staff training, meet around a pile of unit blocks and start a story yourself; then pass the main character on. While it’s your turn, you can take the story wherever you wish. Did you know that Goldilocks made goat curry and fed it to the Troll so he would let her over the bridge – we’ve seen the story take all kinds of astonishing turns!