The Benefits of Block Play
Sonya Stevens, RECE
Blocks are a classic children’s toy, and for good reason. Blocks are not only a great way to keep little ones busy and entertained, block play also facilitates a wide range of development opportunities and learning skills out lined in the following table:
|Area of Development||Skills and Learning|
|Physical||· Fine and gross motor development and control|
· Perceptual motor skills like stacking, grasping, pinching, pushing
· Spatial awareness
· Hand Eye coordination
|· Build confidence in successes|
· Self regulation and talking through conflicts in building visions and creations being knocked over
· Develop patience
|Social||· Sharing materials and physical space|
· Developing cooperation, teamwork, negotiation skills
· Representing the world through play
· Redefining gender stereotypes, girls and boys are welcome to play with blocks
· Asking for help
· Clean up responsibilities
|Creative||· Creative outlet in building and creating|
· Bringing visions to life
· Enjoying artistic process
· Symmetry, artistic balance
|Cognitive and Language||· Problem solving skills|
· Symbolic representation (this is a car; this is a house)
· Use of comparing, bigger/smaller, taller/shorter
· Using language to convey creative ideas and plans
· Mathematical concepts such as geometry, patterning
· Carrying out a plan
· Science concepts such as gravity, balance, cause and effect
· Trial and error
There are a vast variety of blocks available. From wooden to cardboard to plastic, with a rainbow of colours, and any and all sizes imaginable to choose from. Although the options may be overwhelming, any blocks will be beneficial and fun. If you don’t have access to store bought blocks, saving up a variety of sizes of cardboard boxes as well as paper towel and toilet paper rolls will work great too. Having blocks available on a clear space on the floor is an activity upon itself but if you want to extend block play you can consider the following extension ideas:
- Adding props such as animal or people figurines, homemade street signs, maps, toy cars and construction vehicles, plastic cups, tiles, artificial grass or carpet pieces, sticks, smooth pebbles, or mirrors among other loose parts found around the house.
- Some great building prompts to consider if children need a little inspiration could be some photos of famous and everyday structures, or simple block buildings to start off with. Free, printable block patterning mats are also available online.
- You could also verbally prompt children with phrases such as “How tall of a tower can you make?” or “Could we make a round structure?”
- Consider new ways to build such as messy activity ideas like adding playdough or shaving cream to build block sculptures, or making block prints with paint.
- Consider adding Velcro or magnet pieces to blocks to make new, unique building opportunities.
Next time your children engage in some block play, join the fun and be sure to watch for all the great learning happening!