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During block play, children develop reading, writing, math, science, language, and social skills. When children build with blocks, children learn about sizes and shapes, spatial relationships, math concepts, and problem-solving. When children lift, shove, stack, and move blocks, they know about weight and size.

Literacy Development:

  • By planning and organizing their construction before building with blocks, children are learning pre-reading and writing skills. For example, ask children to write or tell a story about building their structure or draw a work plan of the structure they want to build. Keep clipboards, paper, and writing utensils available by blocks. They use fine motor skills during block play, which helps develop finger control and eye-hand coordination, and aids in developing writing skills.

Math:

  • As children build with blocks, they are working with patterns, space, sequences, and symmetry. They are developing an understanding of fractions, shapes, counting, and measurement. Graphing, one-to-one correspondence, and mapping are also some of the skills children are developing through block play.

Science:

  • Science occurs naturally through block play. Children experiment with gravity, planning, cause and effect, force, and balance. Inductive thinking, experimentation, and problem-solving are also occurring while engaged in block play.

Social Studies:

  • When children work with other children to build structures, they work collaboratively by sharing their ideas and plans. This teamwork helps young learners to learn the value of sharing, taking turns, responsibility, clean-up, and working cooperatively. Mapping, learning about their community, and role play are other social skills children learn through blocks. Children will develop self-confidence, initiative, and autonomy through their work with blocks.

What You Can Do to Support Learning Through Block Play

  • Make Blocks Available: Wood unit blocks are recommended but can also sometimes be very expensive.
  • There are several other types of blocks you might want to have to support children's learning. Table blocks, colored wooden cube blocks, cardboard brick blocks, or foam unit blocks are sometimes more affordable.
  • DiscountSchoolSupply.com may be a good resource. Make your blocks using cardboard boxes, cracker boxes, or shoeboxes.
  • Consider Storage
  • Add Accessories
  • Ask Questions: Encourage Children to Talk About What They Are Doing. "Tell me about your building." "How did you decide to put those blocks together?" "You built a tall apartment house. How do people get to their floor?" "How many blocks do you think it will take to fill up that space?"
  • Have Writing Materials Available
  • Allow Creativity

by Laura McFalls,
Early Childhood Specialist