The block center isn’t just for building.
Yes, an immense amount of structure creation will take place in your block center. But that’s not the only thing the kids do there.
The building center is a wonderful place for the children to work on their language development. All of the negotiations about who will build what and how. The discussions and imaginary play that expands the kids’ vocabulary. The block center definitely encourages oral language in the early childhood classroom.
It’s also the perfect spot to add in printed literacy materials. This will help children understand that the written word is meaningful, and they’ll be able to build the connection between oral and written language.
In addition to labeling everything in your block area, one key way to add more written language materials is through BOOKS. Something tells me you already knew that.
Below you’ll find some children’s books for the block center. They range in topic from building to engineering to transportation.
Block Center Books
While I’d love for this to be an exhaustive list, I am sure that I’ve missed out on some literary gems. So please feel free to leave me a note in the comments with some of your favorite books for the block center. I’ll do my best to keep this list updated with more and more book ideas for all of us to use!
I’ve broken the books down into some general categories. Some of the categories overlap a little bit, so please forgive me if I categorize them a little differently than you would.
Children’s Books about Blocks
We Share Everything by Robert Munsch – This book isn’t focused on building with blocks, but I love including it in the block center anyway. It’s a fun (and super silly) book to read towards the beginning of the year when discussing school rules and the like. Blocks do make a cameo appearance in the book, I promise.
Block City by Robert Louis Stevenson – Yes, you read the author correctly. This book is based upon a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, all about different things to make with blocks.
Changes, Changes by Pat Hutchins – A wooden couple build their house out of blocks. When it catches on fire, they have to transform it into different things to adapt. This is a wordless book, so I know it doesn’t add any real written literacy. However, the kids can make up their own words for the book. Maybe you could even turn it into a class book that IS written down!
Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building by Christy Hale – Such a lovely book that makes the comparison between children building (with blocks and rings and boxes) to architecture and structures around the world.
Construction Books for Kids
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker – I may still have this one memorized from when my son was younger. Beautiful illustrations and rhyming text tell the story of the construction equipment getting ready to head to bed.
Roadwork by Sally Sutton – Simple text and colorful illustrations explain the process of making a road. There are some rhyming words to be had, and I love the descriptive words throughout the book.
Demolition by Sally Sutton – I just had to include this one on the list, too. While kids love to build and build and build, they can also be rather gleeful about bringing their buildings down. So a book all about demolition is a must.
Building a House by Byron Barton – Sweet and simple book about (you guessed it!) building a house. The sentences are basic, so this book could also be used with emerging readers who want to read to you.
More Preschool Construction Books
How a House is Built by Gail Gibbons – Gail Gibbons explains how many people are involved in the process of building a house, from the architect on. She also shares examples of different types of houses people might live in.
I Want to Be a Builder by Dan Liebman – Real photos and simple text give kids a peek into a variety of jobs that construction workers handle on a daily basis.
Whose Tools? by Toni Buzzeo – How fun is this book about the different types of tools? Fun and descriptive language so the kids can learn different construction worker titles, jobs, and tools.
The Construction Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta – Talk about vocabulary development! Children who are interested in all things construction will definitely love this detailed book. Every letter of the alphabet is used to describe an aspect of construction, from aerial lifts to excavators and more.
Kids’ Books about Castles
Below are a few different books for those castle loving kids in your class.
I think they’d be perfect have in the block center at any time, but especially during a fairy tale theme!
Engineering Books for Kids
Engineering goes hand-in-hand with blocks, so I couldn’t resist including these books as suggestions for your block center. They all focus on the concept of engineering, which is about designing, planning, and building things (machines and structures, for example).
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty – The great, great niece of Rose (aka Rosie the Riveter), Rosie is an engineer-to-be. When her great aunt visits, Rosie is determined to build her something that flies. Things don’t quite work out as planned.
Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams – Kondi wants to make a galimoto (a push toy), and he’s not deterred by his brother’s laughter over the idea. He spends the day collecting items to make his toy, which he has ready to share with his friends that evening.
Awesome Dawson by Chris Gall – Dawson loves giving old things a new purpose, and he even has his own secret workshop. He invents something to help with cleaning up, and things go a bit awry in the process.
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires – This book is a great one to help kids learn that failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A “regular girl” and her dog assistant set out to make the “most magnificent thing”, but things don’t go as she’d like them to at first.
Related: Fun Engineering Activities for Kids
Transportation Books for Preschoolers
Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen – This one is a perfect fit in the engineering books or during a transportation theme. Violet makes some amazing flying machines, and has to deal with some teasing from the other kids. She goes on an adventure on the way to the air show, helping some people along the way.
Freight Train by Donald Crews – Definitely a must for any preschool train lovers you know. Simple text and illustrations perfect for working on color words and early literacy skills.
If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen – Jack happily tells his family all about what he would do if he was in charge of making a car. Lots of rhyming words that reminded me of Dr. Seuss’ styles, and I love the illustrations that really show Jack’s enthusiasm.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems – Oh, we can’t forget to include this book! I always have a blast reading this one to the kids because it is definitely an interactive books. Put it in the block center, and then sit back and watch the children reread it and retell it with their friends.
Kids’ Books about Buildings
Look at that Building by Scot Ritchie – While it might be a little long to read in one sitting, it’s a great book to have in the block center. The book talks about the different things you need to take into account when putting a structure together. Love that it’s linked back to a group of kids making a doghouse together.
Amazing Buildings by Kate Hayden – This book explains what an architect is, and it’s chock full of buildings. It discusses general buildings, like castles and skyscrapers, as well as famous structures around the world.
Homes Around the World by Max Moore – I love showing kids things they can relate to (like homes) that may or may not be different in other areas of the world!
See Inside Famous Buildings by Rob Lloyd Jones – A lift-the-flap book all about famous buildings around the world!
And a few more books about different structures:
My Favorite Book for the Block Center
I can’t end this list without mentioning my most favorite book for the block center – our book of structures from around the world. It happens to be a book I’ve made myself, so I know I’m a bit biased.
But the reason I love it so much is because of how much my preschool students over the years have enjoyed it. You can read more about it (and grab a free printable sample of the book while you’re there).
More Early Childhood Resources
If you’re looking for more done-for-you resources for your classroom, be sure to pop over and check out Preschool Teacher 101. We’ve got printable lesson plans, math resources, literacy activities, and more. Be sure to take a look at our 70+page structure book pack.
Preschool Centers Pack
I’ve had many readers looking for help with centers, as well as requests for center cards – which led to the creation of this centers pack. If you’d like all the whys, hows, and to-dos in one place, along with a ton of printable center cards and signs, you need to check out this Preschool Centers Resource. Keep in mind, this would work great in other early childhood classrooms too! Below the photo you’ll see what comes in the 250+ page pack.
50 page planning guide
This teacher guide delves into what centers are, why they’re important, ideas for managing centers, how to set up centers in preschool, ideas for stocking centers, and how to introduce them to your students.
This planning guide would be great to print out and add to a teacher binder, or get them printed and bound separately to keep for reference in the classroom.
Printables for managing and labeling centers
There are a wide variety of centers included in these printables. This way, you can pick and choose what you need for your own classroom each year.
Here are the printables included along with the teacher guide:
- Large Center Signs
- Square Center Cards
- Center Choices Checklists
- Center Rules (with an editable option)
- Large Centers Signs (with room for students to add Name Cards)
- Editable Student Name Cards
- Center Sign Up Sheets
- “Work in Progress” Signs
- “Book Hospital” Labels