Literacy experience plan: Surprise block tower

In this experience children take turns to place a block into a hollow tube, and once removed a tall tower of blocks is revealed for all to see!

This experience should be differentiated depending on the individual child/group level.

This learning experience plan relates to:

  • interacting with others
  • early language users (18-36 months)
  • learning foci: making meaning and expressing ideas through communication, concept development and vocabulary
  • teaching practice: play.

Collect information

  • What information has been gathered as evidence to inform this experience?

Links to VEYLDF

Outcome 5: communication

Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes

  • Children engage in enjoyable reciprocal interactions using verbal and non-verbal language.
  • Children respond verbally and non-verbally to what they see, hear, touch, feel and taste.
  • Children attend and give cultural cues that they are listening to and understanding what is said to them.

Victorian curriculum levels F-2: language

Understand that language can be used to explore ways of expressing needs, likes and dislikes.

Learning intentions

  • For children to take turns with others.
  • For children to develop their use of eye contact.
  • For children to listen and jointly attend to the experience.
  • For children to produce single words and combine words in phrases.

Assessment of learning

Learning is demonstrated when children:

  • watch others take their turn, wait for and take turn/s
  • use eye gaze with others to share in learning interest and enjoyment
  • listen and attend throughout the experience 
  • imitate an educator saying a word or spontaneously produce a word
  • say two or three words together either spontaneously or following a model or prompt from an educator.


  • a wide cardboard tube, for example paper towel roll or similar width
  • wooden blocks – these need to fit easily inside the roll and stack on top of one another
  • materials for decorating the tube, for example Texta, coloured paper.

Group size(s)

Small group (2-5 children), pair or with individual child.


Differentiation should be based on prior assessment of the child/children’s communication skills. Examples of differentiation:

  • educators can provide verbal instructions without gestures to extend the child’s ability to follow verbal instructions, or the educator can provide physical assistance (i.e. hand on hand) to put the block inside the tube.
  • for a child who is able to use single words, educators may focus on their use of simple repetitive phrases for example “one, two three…GO” by waiting for them to say part/all of the phrase.

Experience process

  1. Clearly introduce the learning experience:
    • we are going to play a game called surprise block tower.
    • demonstrate putting a few blocks inside the tube and then removing the tube to show the tower.
  2. Implementing the experience:
    • choose a child to take the first turn by looking at them, pointing to them and using their name.
    • encourage each child to take turns putting a block in the tube, providing hints and assistance as necessary.
    • model the appropriate language for the children throughout, using self and parallel talk. For example, “I’m putting the green block in there”, “Ben’s turn to put a block inside.
    • praise the children for their listening, singing and talking throughout.
    • to support children’s use of eye contact, ensure you are at eye level and if required, hold the blocks near your eyes before giving their block or taking your turn.
    • continue turns until the tube is full and tell the children you are going to take the tube off. For example; “Are you ready, I’m going to take it off?” “One two three…..Go!
    • use purposeful pauses and expectant looks to engage the children before revealing the blocks.
    • celebrate with the children about what they have made and continue the experience until the children lose interest.
  3. To further consolidate the learning you may choose to make up a few sets of this experience to send home with parents. See the parent handout below.

Going further

  • Gradually increasing the group size will require children to listen and attend for longer periods of time.
  • Educators may choose to incorporate descriptive language to talk about colours or patterns on the blocks.
  • Depending on the blocks chosen, stickers may be used to increase range of vocabulary, for example animals, vehicles.


Reflective questions for educators may include:

  • What learning has occurred? How do you know?
  • What have you realised about the child’s interests, knowledge, and capabilities?
  • In discussion with colleagues, what would you plan next to consolidate or extend children’s learning?

Additional/alternate resources for this learning experience

  • Peekaboo Baby by Kate Merritt
  • Hello Baby by Mem Fox

Related learning experience plans

Links to sections