Asia West Pacific

Unit Blocks: Play Equipment Produced by Peace Place

By Petrus 

Peace Place Pati, Central Java has traveled a long journey in an effort to create a culture of peace for all people and the earth. We discovered the critical nature of early childhood and parenting education for establishing and preserving peace. Then discovered the critical nature of developmental toys and books. 

Beginning in 2010, Quaker woodworkers Peter Watson from Aotearoa / NZ and Dean Hoover from the United States helped young craftsmen from the Mennonite Church (GITJ-Javanes Church) Sukodono, Jepara, Central Java learn how to make wooden toys. A primary toy is the Unit Blocks, also known as Pratt Blocks developed by Caroline Pratt. Nadine Hoover wrote the Ministry of Education’s standards  for Unit Blocks in Indonesia, with a base unit of 1.5 cm x 3 cm x 6 cm in 27 main shapes and 251 pieces in a basic home set for two children. Unit Blocks have a deeper function of introducing basics of mathematics at an early age that supports math achievement at the higher levels.

In developing play materials, Peace Place pays attention to:

  • Basic principle of universal peace and cooperation without violence; humans can only think and learn when we feel safe and loved.
  • Basic knowledge of the stages of early childhood development that applies to all children everywhere.
  • Deep appreciation for Indonesian language, history, and culture.

Currently, the unit blocks production is carried out by Suwarno’s families, at Sukodono Jepara, which involves five craftsmen with different skill specifications. To support parents and teachers in using Unit Blocks, Peace Place completed a training program for using Unit Blocks and is now entering the editing stage to publish a book on Unit Blocks.

 


“Building with blocks will challenge the whole child; builds self-confidence; facilitates the development of vocabulary; improve social skills; and stimulates eye-hand-body coordination; and important for the development of reading skills. In addition, building with Unit Blocks also enriches the main subjects in the curriculum — mathematics, natural sciences and social sciences. When they build with blocks, children discover, create, imagine and embody a more complete understanding of their world. “

~ Elizabeth Hirsch. Block Book (NAEYC, 1996)