Building Blocks Literacy Program is a kindergarten program, which combines self-selected reading, guided reading, writing, and words with themes and units that are part of every kindergarten day. This program helps teachers teach children reading, writing, and phonics in a developmentally appropriate way. Building Blocks began because of the need to teach kindergartners how to read and write without it being too hard for them. Four Blocks was the first guide for teaching children to read and write and learn phonics. However, it was only appropriate for first through third grades. Teachers wanted something to do in kindergarten and so they used Four Blocks but it was not developmentally appropriate for kindergartners. Therefore, Building Blocks began. This framework was implemented after Four Blocks became well known and widely used.
Patricia Cunningham and Dorothy Hall started Four Blocks. It began during the 1989-90 school year, in a first-grade classroom. The next year, 16 first-grade teachers used it in their classrooms. Since then, Four Blocks has been used in many different first, second and third-grade classrooms. The Four Blocks are Guided Reading, Self-Selected Reading, Writing, and Working with Words. These four areas will help teach children to read. As the book, Guided Reading the Four Blocks Way, states " Doing all four blocks acknowledges that all children do not learn the same way, and provides substantial instruction to support whatever learning personality a child has." There are many variations to Four Blocks, but there are two important principles that must be followed if writing and reading education can be called Four Blocks. First of all, each block must get 30-40 minutes of instruction everyday, because it is believed that children learn to read differently. Allowing equal time in all the areas assures that all children will have the same opportunity to become literate.