Do girls build differently?

Here you can see a group of girls in their classroom building with big blocks and these funny blue things we have that have the hook side of Velcro on each end.  The blocks represented a ship. there were 'bad guys' on the other side of the room. The blue things were water, then food and money (when they put them inside of a block). Did the points represent waves? It strikes me that within this group of girls, at least three (if not all five) of them have strength in spatial/mathematical thinking and interest in engineering -building, making gadgets and folded paper constructions.

In all the years I have observed children playing with these things, I have never seen them used in this way (with the pieces placed like points or arches). It seems to me that girls, in general, use three dimensional building materials differently from boys. It also seems that girls who come to master these materials often posses a unique aesthetic, and can lead the way to new discoveries for other children. What do you think? Do girls build differently from boys?


  1. Since my first day teaching young children, their block building has fascinated me. The way it changes with age and development, especially -- a three year old will often build flat, and as they grow older they experiment with "up". I love seeing things like this, though, where the children are using materials in a brand new way. I'm interested in going back through my block documentation and looking at the gender differences.

    Happy Holidays!

  2. I don't know, but now I'm going to be looking for it.

    When my daughter was in preschool, there were 2-3 boys who would spend the first part of the morning building with these big blocks, then the girls would "move in" to whatever they'd built. It drove the boys crazy because they would have just kept right on building, but once there was someone "living" there they couldn't dismantle one part to build another.

    I've never seen the situation this extreme in my own classroom, but there is more of a tendency for girls to use our block area for dramatic play. But whether or not girls and boys actually build differently, I'll have to keep an eye out.

    What differences do you see?

  3. Good question, I'll have to look closer. I just looked at some documentation of a mixed group of girls and boys building together, and the language was what struck us (boys gave directives and the girls worked quietly & eventually started building something parallel instead of following the directives.) I often wonder if girls have less access (as a cultural phenomonon) to constuction at home (knex/legos) and as a result are less comfortable and skilled in 3d construction.


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