Early Childhood Corner: The Power of Block Building

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  • 1 Professor of early childhood education at Boston College since 1976.
  • 2 Is a former teacher. She taught mathematics to seventh-grade through high school students and also was an elementary school teacher.

The ability to build complex structures with blocks is a powerful tool that can benefit all children. This article presents research on the importance of block building in developing spatial reasoning and explains the mathematics underlying block building. As an example of how teachers can systematically incorporate mathematics into block-building activities, this article describes elements of a new book on block building, Sneeze Builds a Castle (Casey, Paugh, and Ballard 2002). This book is part of a series of storytelling and mathematics supplementary books, 'Round the Rug Math: Adventures in Problem Solving, written with the support of a National Science Foundation grant and designed to facilitate spatial reasoning in young children (Casey, in press).


Beth Casey is the principle investigator of a National Science Foundation grant that resulted in the development of the 'Round the Rug Math: Adventures in Problem Solving series and has co-edited a book on early childhood mathematics as a member of the NCTM Early Childhood Editorial Panel.

Barbara Bobb is now a senior editor for an educational publisher and her primary focus is on early childhood mathematics.

Edited by Julie Sarama, jsarama@buffalo.edu, and Douglas Clements, clements@buffalo.edu, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14260. This department addresses the early childhood teacher's need to support young children's emerging mathematics understandings and skills in a context that conforms with current knowledge about the way that children in prekindergarten and kindergarten learn mathematics. Readers are encouraged to send manuscripts for this section to “Early Childhood Corner,” NCTM, 1906 Association Dr., Reston, VA 20191-1502.

Contributor Notes

Teaching Children Mathematics


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