Blocks are probably the most versatile toy you can buy for your child. Since they are open-ended, children can turn them into whatever they can imagine. They promote problem solving skills and introduce children to beginning math concepts.
The beauty of blocks is that the “play is in the child” not in the toy. Toys that are designed to be played with only one way are limiting to young children and children soon tire of the sameness. Blocks on the other hand can be played with every day and each day they can be played with in a different way.
Art Skills – Shapes, designs and objects can all be made from blocks, then they can be re-arranged into something new.
Social Skills – Blocks are easy to share with others and meaningful conversations can occur between two block builders.
Language Skills – As your child constructs with blocks, he will be introduced to meaningful concept words for colors, shapes and sizes of blocks. He will also use words as he interacts with characters he has created or other children joining in the play.
Problem-Solving Skills – As children attempt to construct roads, houses, etc., they will encounter numerous opportunities to solve problems.
Math Skills – Blocks are made proportional to one another (ie, two small blocks equal one medium block and two medium blocks equal one large block) thus enabling children to discover basic relationships for solving beginning addition and subtraction problems. Blocks also help teach children beginning geometry, such as; shapes and dimensions. They are also great for stacking and playing counting games.
Creative Skills – Blocks encourage dramatic and imaginary play in young children.
Occasionally, when your child is playing with blocks, provide her with other open-ended objects (such as; play dough, foil, wooden spools, cardboard boxes, cotton balls, large buttons, plastic caps, paper plates, etc.) to enhance her play. You can also provide props to encourage dramatic play; such as; a fireman’s hat, small cars or airplanes, doll house furniture and toy people or animals.
After your children have created a site or structure you can help them label their efforts by providing a simple sign, such as one that reads; Mary’s Garage; Lyle’s Train; or Charlie’s Tower. This will give meaning to printed words for them as well as validating their building efforts.
Below are some fun block activities to do with your child.
SORTING AND MATCHING FUN
Blocks provide a great opportunity for children to practice sorting. Set out a pile of assorted blocks for your child. Depending on the type of blocks you have, have your child sort them by color, size and/or shape. Another game to play is a matching game. Pick out a block and see if your child can find a block that matches your block.
Make a town for your child by drawing roads, bridges, lakes and trees on an old sheet or piece of material with marking pens. Lay your town on the floor or on a table top and encourage your child to build stores and houses to complete the town using blocks. Set out some small cars and trucks for your child to use on the town’s roads.
|HIDE AND SEEK
For this game, you will need a small bag or pillow case and two sets of four different shaped blocks. Place one of each pair of blocks in the bag and set the four remaining blocks on a table. Pick up one of the blocks and show it to your child. Next, have your child reach into the bag and without looking, try to find it’s matching block. If your child pulls out the wrong block, have her reach in again for another try. To play the game over again, be sure to replace all four blocks back into the bag. This game is great for helping your child learn to distinguish different shapes of objects, an important reading skill.
For this game, you will need small colored blocks. Use the blocks to make a simple pattern, such as; one red block, one blue block, one red blocks, etc. Ask your child to tell you what color of block would go next in your pattern. Then encourage your child to make a matching set of blocks under your set. Continue playing this game, while interest lasts, making progressively harder patterns each time.
One of the most fun activities children do with blocks is to build towers as high as they can before they fall down. Encourage your child to count the blocks as she builds her towers. Help your child count if their tower goes higher than their ability to count.
Increase your child’s observation skills with this simple matching game. Choose four or five blocks with different shapes. Trace around the shape of the blocks onto a heavy piece of paper. Remove the blocks from the paper and give the paper and the blocks to your child. Have your child match up the drawn shapes with the blocks.
|BIG TO LITTLE
Select four to five similar blocks of varying sizes. Let your child arrange them in order from largest to smallest. Then ask him to build a tower with the blocks starting with the largest block, and so on. You may want to let your child discover what would happen if he started with the smallest block and piled the others on top. Start with three or four blocks and increase the number of blocks as your child’s skill increases.
LOOK AND SEE
Place three blocks of different colors on a table between you and your child. Have her touch each block and name each blocks color (help if necessary). Next, have your child close her eyes while you remove one of the blocks. When you say, “Look and See”, have your child open her eyes and tell you which block is now missing. Continue with the game, increasing the number of blocks as your child’s skill increases. Take turns with your child. You close your eyes, while she removes a colored block.
Place a variety of blocks in a bag. Have your child reach in and pull out a block. Start a story and incorporate some characteristic of the block into the story. Example: The block that was drawn was small and blue. Your story could start with – “Once upon a time, there was a small blue puppy who lived on a farm.” Have your child continue to pull out blocks as your tell your story. After your child has pulled out four or five blocks, conclude the story and see if your child can retell the story by observing the blocks in their proper sequence.
I LOVE BLOCKS
Tune: “Three Blind Mice”
I love blocks,
I love blocks,
See how they stack,
See how they stack,
I love to stack them in the air.
I love to stack them everywhere.
When they fall, I don’t care.
I love Blocks.
MAKE YOUR OWN BLOCKS
You can make quick and inexpensive building blocks for your children with large grocery sacks and plastic milk cartons. Large blocks can be made from grocery bags stuffed with crumpled newspaper and the ends securely taped down. Smaller blocks can be made from milk cartons. Simply cut the tops off two cartons, rinse out and then push one carton inside the other one.