Why should children play with blocks

Block play incorporates every single skill that children need to be successful in school and in life!

Block play gives children opportunities to develop many new skills and concepts.  Block play helps children learn in a way that is best suited for them, and individually suited for each child. Every child can be successful with the skills they have already acquired. There is no correct way to play, all play is acceptable and empowering for young children.

Through block play children learn to: read, write, speak, and perhaps, most importantly, listen.  Block play teaches math, science, and social studies.  Playing with blocks helps children to grow in the area of physical health and development too.  Block play involves cooperative play and helps children learn to play collaboratively – where they incorporate the ideas of others into their play, when you think about it, that is what we must do to get along with others.

Some of the skills that children acquire through block play include sorting, matching, shapes names and attributes, counting sequencing – all math skills. They can observe physical properties of blocks, for example, how force affects objects, or how structures interact with force, science learning.  By playing with blocks, children are learning the necessary skills for success in school and ultimately, in life.

Social Emotional Learning:

  • Initiative
  • Autonomy and independence – doing it on their own
  • Taking risks (you need to take risks to learn)
  • Cooperation
  • Responsibility
  • Self confidence
  • Working with others
  • Respect for the work of others

Mathematical learning:

  • Patterns
  • Similarities and differences
  • Part – part whole relationships (necessary for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division)
  • Classification
  • Planning – see blueprints below as one example of the planning
  • Measurement, volume, area
  • Mapping
  • Symmetry

Science learning:

  • Properties of matter
  • Problem solving
  • Creative thinking (might be among the most important – think of scientists who invent new ways of doing things)
  • Cause and effect
  • Experimentation and its value in problem solving
  • Observation

Art learning:

  • Patterns
  • Shape
  • Design
  • Order
  • Creativity
  • Self – expression (children that can express themselves have a distinct advantage dealing with life problems and occurrences).

Literacy learning:

  • Discussions about their creations gives children practice with expressive language
  • Naming, labeling and making up stories about their creations
  • Oral language
  • Developing vocabulary
  • Representation as a form of expression and ideas of children

Physical Development:

  • Develops small muscles
  • Develops large muscles
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Finger control
  • Visual perception
  • Body awareness
  • Moving through space
  • Bilateral movement – both sides of the body moving together

Social Studies learning:

  • Community
  • People and their work
  • Role play
  • Patterns in relationships
  • Symbolic representation
  • Interactions with children

Block play is vital to help children learn the single most important thing – how to get along with others. It really doesn’t matter what we know if no one wants to play with us.

So, if it looks like we are “just playing,” now you know it is SO much more than just play. It is an intentionally set up environment that gives children the opportunity to learn skills that will lead to school success and later life success.  The most ironic thing is that if we are doing it right, it looks like we are not doing a thing! ????

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