I always find it interesting how children will focus on one building material for a length of time, ignoring all the others. For that reason I have lots of different kinds of blocks for building. I try to have 3 different kinds available at all times, switching out as interests indicate.
The attention has recently shifted to wall building with our cardboard bricks. It’s been months since these have had more interest than just being pulled off the shelf.
The boys have been working hard at figuring how best to construct their walls to actually stay up.
They are getting there.
What happens during block play?
Block play often involves dramatic play as in when the boys built their wall up and waited for me to “blow it down”. Or when they made separate castle walls.
We know building with blocks involves developing concepts in science and math. There might be counting out blocks and patterns. There is definitely work with some of the laws of physic – balance and gravity. Through their exploration with blocks, children learn how to make that wall steady, how to balance weight equally, how to adjust for height. They are also learning about three-dimensionality, measurement, and geometric shapes. They are classifying and mentally visualizing relationships.
Wow! That’s a lot for just playing with simple blocks. But we’re not done with our learning….
Often block play is not done in isolation, but as part of a group which supports positive social interaction. There is also a deep use of language that is not part of what I would consider common conversation. All motor skills are involved.
So much happens developmentally when playing with blocks. Block play also grows or changes through repeated use and with the influence of age and past experience. Blocks are materials that can be used by all ages at the same time.
If I was limited to just 5 toys or pieces of equipment, you can be sure that blocks would be on that list.