Toy building blocks are actually the building blocks of a child’s all-round development. They not only help develop gross and fine motor skills, but also improve cognition. We help you understand the immense contribution building blocks make in child development.
Right from newborns to preschoolers, all kids enjoy playing with blocks, the only difference being their changing perception with respect to their age. Babies love to hold blocks and bang them on the floor. This initiates the development of their sensory organs by allowing them to feel the texture of the blocks and recognize their unique sounds.
Toddlers develop more muscle control, and learn to combine, stack, and line up the blocks. They also begin to develop their thinking ability through toy blocks. They attempt to build basic structures by combining the blocks together, which starts developing their thought process and imaginative skills. This is the time when they start displaying their creativity and imagination.
The Progression of Block Play and Concepts Learned
There is a natural progression of block play and introducing infants and toddlers to block play is invaluable.
Toddlers– When toddlers are first introduced to blocks they may learn how to hold on to them, how they feel, how heavy they are, they explore the bright colors, and begin to carry them around. They will experiment with how blocks may sound when they fall, or when they bang them together. Soon toddlers are learning cause and effect as they are filling and dumping, stacking, knocking down and laying blocks side by side on the floor. Concepts such as learning sizes, comparing objects by making exact matches and the order of objects are also being learned.
Socially, block play contributes to their developing self confidence, for example as they learn how to stack blocks they are proud of their success and feel a sense of accomplishment. Through block play a young child’s expressive and receptive language is being expanded by learning words such as “fill,” “dump,” “pick up,” “stack,” “balance,” “tall”, and “short”.
Three year old– Three-year-olds block play will look different as they move into a simple constructive type of play. A three year old usually plays alone or near other children and are beginning to engage in pretend play. They are starting to build enclosures that resemble zoos, farm pens, roads and castles. They are learning concepts such as sorting, ordering, counting, one to one correspondence, size and shape.
Four and Five Year olds – At four and five children’s block play is more experienced, developed, balanced coordinated and organized. Constructive play involves play that is more open-ended and exploratory. Children begin to combine structures to make more complex buildings.
Socially, four and five-year-olds are beginning to share ideas and are starting to cooperate and build with others. They may use block accessories such as people, transportation vehicles, and animals to engage in imaginary/ pretend play. They are learning more complex patterns, classifying, sequencing, counting, fractions and problem solving.
Preschoolers are beginning to notice and explore more 3– dimensional objects such as cones, cylinders, cubes and prisms, (geometry). Science is also being learned through block play as children start making predictions, comparisons, experiment with cause and effect, stability and balance. Their vocabulary is also expanded by block play as they develop an understanding of spatial relations and words such as “under,” “over,” “off,” “bottom,” “top,” “through,” and “beside.”
Every child is unique, and he possesses unique imaginative skills. You may think that creating structures out of wooden and plastic cubes is fairly mechanical, and it can only indicate that the child may develop good logical skills in the future. However, there is a flip side to it that you might not have noticed so far. If you observe a group of kids playing with toy blocks, and try to converse with them, you will notice that even though they are kids, they have amazingly big ideas and plans for their construction.
Moreover, psychologists have categorized problems in two major ways―convergent problems and divergent problems. In this context, since kids can put the blocks together creatively in a variety of ways, the block play is considered as a divergent play. The diverging property of the play prepares kids to think creatively, and develops the skill of solving divergent problems easily.