Building blocks have been a staple play item for kids for many years, and with good reason. They are versatile, easy to use, familiar, and offer infinite ways to play. There's a high chance you, your parents, and even your grandparents played with blocks when they were young. But is playing with blocks merely a rite of passage, or does this activity help with your child's development? Here's more.
But First, What Is Block Play?
Block play is any form of play that involves the use of blocks. These blocks are basic units utilized in building, composing, or constructing things. They can be made from a wide variety of materials, such as wood or plastic, and come in different sizes, colors, and shapes.
Block play offers your little one creative, open-ended play and the freedom to explore things. They can construct, take part, and put things back together however they want. This form of play is inclusive as there's no age or gender limit, meaning kids from different age groups can play together. It also offers new play opportunities whether your child is playing alone or with others. Block play is an important form of STEM learning starting at age 10 months.
Benefits of Playing with Wooden Building Blocks
Building blocks have the ability to grow with your child through their different developmental stages. Here are some of the benefits of playing with blocks.
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Fosters cognitive development in kids
Playing with wooden building blocks can help promote your child's cognitive development. For instance, they learn spatial perception while stacking and building things with blocks. They also get to learn math concepts about size and shapes, sorting, and ordering things as they explore block play.
At its core, block play is basically problem-solving, as anything your little one needs to construct will require them to think of a solution. If they want to build a house, they need to figure out how the pieces fit together and plan accordingly.
As they figure out the details, they are bound to face problems such as the roof caving in or the walls being too short. Finding the solutions to these problems helps hone their problem-solving skills, which they will use to solve other problems they might face.
Fosters creativity and imagination
Block play is open-ended, making it a great way to foster your child's creativity and imagination. They are free to assemble, take part and recombine the wooden blocks as they see fit. This offers countless ways to create the same thing, making playing with blocks infinite fun.
This form of play also fosters self-expression as your child can express themselves through their play, creations, and discoveries. This avenue of self-expression can be a great form of communication, especially for non-verbal kids.
Encourages cooperation and responsibility
Playing with blocks allows kids to learn about teamwork, cooperation, and responsibility. While they can play with blocks by themselves, playing with others allows them to learn how to work together with others to achieve a common goal and share responsibilities.
As they learn the essence of cooperation, they can identify each other’s strengths and weaknesses and come up with adequate measures to meet their goal. They also learn responsibility in taking care of their things. They are responsible for the blocks during playtime and even during clean-up.
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Boosts language and vocabulary development
While playing, your child can develop their language skills by using and getting a better understanding of words such as up, balance, on top, over, under, etc. While playing with older kids, or adults, they are exposed to more vocabulary learning opportunities. You can also manipulate building blocks to create words and letter shapes, helping your kids work on their pre-reading skills.
Enhances fine motor skills
Block play strengthens your child's fine motor skills. As they learn how to grab, stack, balance, and manipulate the block into what they want, they are significantly improving their mortar skills. As they progress through different stages of block play, they are engaging their muscles which will help them with everyday tasks such as writing or getting dressed.
Improves attention span
During block play time, kids can get engrossed in their activities as they spend long periods of time constructing their creations. Since they are playing for longer than they would normally play with other toys, they end up pushing the limits of their concentration, increasing their overall attention span. Their attention muscle benefits from engaging in deeply engrossing activities since it requires more mental effort. They also develop perseverance and determination.
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Playtime Ideas for Kids Using Wooden Blocks
With all these benefits in mind, here are a few playtime games and activities you can try
- Build a car
- Build a house
- Build a town
- Try a build-and-paint activity
- Play Jenga
- Make a picture
- Spell out your name
- Spell out letters and numbers - they can trace out numbers and letters using blocks.
- Make various shapes
- Count with blocks
- Make a puzzle
- Shadow draw using wooden blocks - for this activity, you create shapes and cast a light behind them to create cool shadow figures.
- Shape matching with blocks - Use different blocks to draw out some shapes and let your child match the blocks to the shape.
- Block painting - this is similar to potato-stamping or stencil painting; mix some paint and use the blocks as stencils to paint with. They can dip the block in pain and press it onto the paper.
- Create a block maze
- Measure things out using blocks - let your child stack blocks or arrange them to figure out how long or tall something is.
- Layering using blocks - let your child learn about patterns and layering by using differently colored blocks.
- Block printing - use blocks to print out different shapes in play dough or sand.
Play is a universal learning language where your child can learn while having fun. Block play offers open-ended, unrestricted play that makes everything around your child a valuable learning experience. With the freedom to explore, take apart and put things back together, this type of play can be very beneficial for your child's development.