Building blocks appeal naturally to children, which is a very good thing because playing with blocks helps children develop many life skills essential to a happy life. These strengths include language, physical development, cognitive, and emotional. Activity ideas centered on these areas, when planned out, increase the learning and all around growth potential in children.
Furthermore, studies show complex block building activities assist children in learning needed math skills as they discover mathematical combinations and associate numerical value of block quantities. This article provides a variety of activity ideas for playing with building blocks.
Very young children around 1-1/2 years of age and older can start playing with blocks. When making your toy selection for this age group, try to avoid plastic styles as they tend to have uneven surfaces and can be hard to stack. This can create a frustrating experience for the young child learning. Great quality blocks are available from a variety of brands including Melissa and Doug, Maxim and Citiblock. stacking blocks
Activity ideas can be planned based on two categories: divergent and convergent problem solving skills. Divergent building block activities allow children to find a solution by way of trial and error until the right working solution is identified. Puzzle building blocks activities are a good example of a divergent activity idea. Another example of this kind of activity is the Alphabet Nesting and Stacking Blocks from Melissa and Doug. The set is designed for children ages 2 and up. The 10 piece set contains visually appealing blocks in many colors. A storage case is included with this set to help children learn that clean up is also an important aspect of responsible activity play. One activity idea for parents can try is to introduce one or two numbers or letters of the alphabet to your child at a time, so that it is not too much as to not to overwhelm the child in initial learning.
Rolling a plastic ball to knock down stacked blocks is also an activity idea to try. As each blocked is picked up and restacked, you can ask your child to identify the newly learned number of letter of the alphabet to enhance cognitive recall. You could also count how many blocks fell and count how many are still standing to encourage math building skills.
As children get older and find stacking blocks a simple task, moving to convergent-based type of blocks. Convergent play involves those activities that have many options to a solution, highlighting the flexibility of creativity. Children learn to distinguish the differences between block sizes and develop physically; using their arm muscles to reach and stack which also utilizes hand-to-eye coordination. The Melissa and Doug collection of building blocks include the “100 Wood Blocks Set” for ages 3 and up. This set lets child’s imagination be the lead and in doing so, cognitive skills in creating abstract concepts help foster their thinking abilities.
Architectural fantasy building blocks in color from Haba and sets from Melissa and Doug feature columns absent of color to help children test out their building imagination in a color-less base type of block set. Here they can really understand and describe the difference in each building block shape and function is when stacked or placed side by side–all put to the test of their individual imagination. Brands like Citiblock feature a diverse way to use flatly shaped block styles to build structures. Maxim toy trains and the Wooden Unit Blocks on Wheels from Melissa and Doug feature wheels to introduce young minds to the rolling concept of wheels.