The Benefits of Blocks

Feb 22, 2013
As a parent of two (almost) toddlers, blocks are becoming just as much of a playtime ‘must’ as books. Lydia happily stacks and knocks down and stacks again. And, of course, when Lydia breaks out her blocks, Kian inevitably takes a few for himself. For Kian, at almost a year, the simple act of holding the block, clicking two together or passing them back and forth between hands hones his motor skills. He also explores the difference in shapes, textures and sizes with his hands, fingers and very often, his mouth. These simple actions lead to his ability to hold a bottle, cup and spoon on his own. Eventually (my floors and I hope!), they’ll allow him to bring those items neatly to his mouth. And it’s not just about putting food where it should go, it’s also putting toys back in bins, clicking sticks together in music class, grasping and of course, taking books off of shelves. At almost 2, Lydia has a different idea about her blocks and it involves ALL of them. She’s finding out about her world by stacking, attempting to stack, putting them end to end or spreading them out in a pattern. The making of a block creation involves a lot more than childs play. Kids are experimenting with balance, structure, geometry, measurement, spatial relation and of course, creativity. The end result at her age is less important than the process. A toppled structure offers just as much of a chance for learning as the one that stays standing. The fact that we can talk about the shapes and colors of the blocks plus her end result develops language skills as well. In the next year, those simple wood shapes become even more exciting. Lydia’s actual creations will allow for pretend play, with blocks being cars, buildings and people. Blocks can be used to depict a scene from a favorite story, from our town or one of her own! The most exciting aspect my kids play with blocks, though, is the social one. Blocks are a one-size-fits-all type of toy. They both can play with the same toy at the same time! (I am not quite ready to call is ‘sharing.’) Kids can relate to them at their level. Yet, they can share and experience the creativity of others- all without bells and whistles. …just try not to step on them.