wooden blocks

By: Dawn Herman

Can you remember playing with blocks as a child? Thinking: “should I build a house or a zoo?” and “these blocks would make a great road for my cars!” There are many great benefits of blocks–yet in today’s high-tech world they are easily overlooked in the toy box. With technology being offered at earlier and earlier ages it is becoming increasingly important for parents to remember the value of simple toys like blocks.

Here are a few things to remember about blocks

  • They can be offered to children of all ages, even if your child is still in the oral stage and loves to put toys in their mouth (just make sure the block will not fit through the opening of a paper towel tube for safety).
  • Babies will learn to hold a block in each hand and bang them together or on a hard surface. This is fun for them!
  • Children learn to knock blocks down before they can stack them up, but that’s okay. With that said, be careful not to run to stop a tower from falling down. There is much to be learned from the mistakes made during block play.
  • Couple blocks with cars, animals or people figurines to expand pretend play
  • Add math concepts by using size words (biggest block, smallest, taller, shorter, etc.)
  • Add language by narrating the building of a tower or adding sounds as a tower crashes down.
  • Add a science element by having your child hypothesize when a tower will fall down or “What would happen if…?” questions.
  • Repeated exposure to blocks increases special skills, creativity, problem solving and fine motor skills. And, mastering that block house will build confidence in your little one.
  • Allow your child creative freedom. Sit on your hands if you need to! Let her build or design as she sees fit.
  • Use this opportunity to practice praising your child in ways that will build self-esteem.
  • Say things that are based in fact- “That tower is bigger than the last one you made.” That is the biggest tower you’ve built today!” “You made that house big enough for your animals to fit in.” (The idea being that specific praise is more effective than generic. Ex:“That’s great!”)

Remember blocks the next time you’re wondering how to fill some indoor time or thinking about a gift for a child. They really are the gift that keeps on giving. You are giving your child an opportunity to sit on the floor and be an active participant in his own play. Blocks often bridge the gap between child and adult, offering the two a chance to sit and play together. If you aren’t good with pretend play, this is a great way to spend time playing and interacting with your child, and nothing could be better than that.

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