I don't need to know the educational benefits of some toys, I can just see that my children learn from using them, I can see they are engaged, I can see that they are happy!
Until recently Otto only had a small basket of blocks out. But you know the things with blocks is that they need a flat firm surface if you are going to build anything big. So today with Otis home from school we put a few of our blocks into a large tray. It was an all round success.
Otto pretty much giggled the whole time. Even Maria Montessori noted the love the child has for building and then knocking down block towers. What surprised me was the repetition. Otto built the same structure, with the same few blocks over and over and over.
But what also surprised me was how steady Otto's hand is and how high he could build. Never underestimate your children!
What are the benefits of block play for toddlers?
- Builds concentration.
- Develops hand-eye coordination.
- Strengthens fingers, hand, arm and core.
- Allows for the child to practice various grips.
- Develops spatial awareness.
- Allows the child to learn through doing - gravity, balance, shape, form, geometery.
- Allows the child to experience the block through smell, texture, weight and sound (when knocked down or banging two blocks together).
- Develops social skills through sharing, taking turns, potentially working next to someone.
- Develops vocabulary - words like build, pass, up, down, fall, block, tall, stack, balance.
- Role play and self expression in older toddlers.
- Allows for symbolic play in older toddlers - use of mental representations where the block will represent something else like a car, boat, person, fence.
- Allows for rehearsal and repetition - the child may practice a previous learned behaviour like stacking and knocking down blocks, allows for the child to master the activity or learn from and extend previous knowledge.
- Develops problem solving skills.
Is it ever too young to start block play? "During the first three years of life, synapses develop quickly in response to environmental stimulation. When stimuli are repeated, existing synapse connections are reinforced, growing stronger and more efficient. For example, when an infant has multiple opportunities to feel the surfaces of wooden blocks, synaptic connections that feed the brain information about texture are strengthened; therefore, subsequent information received by the brain concerning texture will be interpreted more efficiently. This facilitates the child's potential to identify concepts such as hard, soft, smooth or rough, thus strengthening the child's general learning potential." - A Constructivist Approach to Block Play in early Childhood by Judith Kieff and Karyn Wellhousen.
At the same age Otis mainly played with unit block, I wish we had them with us, I know Otto would love them.
For futher reading on block play you might enjoy these previous posts: