Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Chalice Children: A Program about Our Unitarian Universalist Community for Preschoolers

Activity 5: Building a Neighborhood

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Wooden building blocks
  • Toy people, animals, cars, and other items for the neighborhood
  • Blue painter's tape
  • Optional: Digital camera or smartphone

Preparation for Activity

  • Clear a space or spaces large enough for children to build cooperatively.
  • Set out the blocks and other toy items. Note: If you don't have access to blocks, you can use another type of manipulative building toy, such as Legos, Tinker Toys, or Lincoln Logs.
  • Blue painter's tape is ideal for creating roads because it won't leave adhesive on the floor or carpet. If you must use a different product, test it ahead of time to make sure it doesn't damage your floor or carpet.
  • Help preschoolers experience themselves as cooperative and caring friends. Be ready to talk about choices, feelings, and the consequences of behavior. By hearing esteem-building messages, children experience themselves as cooperative and caring. Be prepared to help the children speak and listen respectfully to one another. Plan to model how to ask for something with words such as "Please," "Thank you," and "May I?" Be ready to help the children verbalize their feelings and to listen and hear what is being said to them.

Description of Activity

Children use blocks to create a neighborhood.

Introduce the activity, in these words or your own:

Now we are going to work together to build a community out of blocks! What are some ways that we can use our best manners when we build with blocks together? [Say please and thank you, share the blocks.] If two of you reach for the same block, you can ask, "May I use this block?" Let's all be good, caring friends as we build our block neighborhood together.

Invite the children to the block area. Say, in these words or your own:

Let's use these blocks to make a community together! First we'll need some roads and houses.

Tear off strips of blue painter's tape for making roads, and encourage the children to build houses with the blocks. Say, in these words or your own:

There are many ways to create a neighborhood. Does every house have a road near it? Is there a church [congregation] like ours? Is there a school, or a grocery store? What other places do we need for our neighborhood?

As the children play together, model how to use manners as needed, and reinforce any caring and sharing behaviors you see.

Encourage the children in imaginative play. Prompt with questions such as:

  • Can I come and visit you? Would you like to come and visit me?
  • Can we build a road to go under this table?
  • Do we need people, animals, cars in our neighborhood?

Optional: Take a picture of the children and their block community.

Invite the children to help clean up by peeling the tape from the rug and putting away blocks and toys.

Including All Participants

If any children are having trouble engaging in cooperative play, set them up with materials to build on a table. As the activity progresses, find a way to connect their building to the "neighborhood."