From infancy, children enjoy blocks. Babies like touching, gripping and banging blocks together. Then, toddlers attempt to build structures and begin imaginative play. Preschoolers seem to enjoy blocks as they understand how blocks fit together and try to create elaborate buildings and structures. Though blocks aren't sophisticated toys, their lessons to children are many.
Shapes, colors and sizes
Block play encourages children to match, count and sort. While watching your child playing with blocks or co-playing with him, talk about the shapes of the blocks (rectangles, squares and triangles) as well as the colors and number of blocks. It's a good idea to use interlocking unit blocks, such as Lego Duplo. These blocks, which are made for children ages one-and-a-half to five, come in various sizes that can be stacked in many different arrangements. When a child puts two smaller blocks together, it will equal one of the larger blocks. This is a fantastic way to introduce the meaning of big and little, as well as half and whole. Blocks can teach young children many of the basic matching, counting and sorting concepts which are taught in preschool and kindergarten.
Problem-solving and creativity
Playing with blocks helps enhance your child's creativity. Just because kids are little doesn't mean they don't have big ideas. In the beginning of play, ask what your child wants to build and help him devise a plan. During play, without doing the construction for him, continue to ask questions such as, "Do you think it is going to stay balanced?" and "Do you want to make a space for a door?" This will encourage your child to continue to think and create. Block play is very beneficial to cognitive development and problem-solving skills.
Sharing and cooperation
Block play can help children learn social skills as they work together with other kids. Encourage children to play blocks with one another with a common goal. This will allow them to explore new ideas, share in the planning and building, and cooperate with each other as they create an imaginary little world.
The benefits of block play are many. These classic toys have the cognitive benefits of learning shapes, sizes and colors, as well as problem-solving. Playing with blocks also offers the creativity benefits of developing their own designs, the social benefits of playing together in groups, and the physical benefits of improved dexterity and hand-eye coordination.
More playtime tips
The importance of play
Ways to incorporate learning into play
Lessons to teach while playing house