Building Blocks: Tips for Getting the most from them

Building Blocks: Tips for Getting the most from them

Here are some tips I've picked up as I recall my childhood and my toys along with my experience with being around children as an adult.

Engage young children by participating yourself — and engaging them in spatial talk

Research shows that kids get more from block play when someone demonstrates how to build with them. Kids also benefit when we talk with them about spatial ideas. As you discuss building, use spatial vocabulary like “on, “above,” “under”, “below,” “inside,” “outside”, “next to”, and “through”.

Encourage cooperative building projects

Have other children come over or send your children over to a friend’s house. This will encourage them to cooperate and work together. Younger children sometimes need help breaking the ice, so play the part of a party host to get joint building projects started.

Challenge kids with specific building tasks

Free-wheeling block play is important. But it’s likely that kids also reap special benefits from trying to match a structure to a template. Even 3-year-olds may be ready to try this, if you stick with very simple structures involving only two or three blocks. To get started, create a model with blocks for your child to reproduce. As your child gets older and more skilled, he or she can try to build using images or diagrams.

Remember that fantasy is a valuable aspect of play — even play with blocks

Construction play seems so obviously mechanical. It’s easy to think only of the development of practical engineering skills. But kids also benefit from fantasy and make-believe. For example, experiments suggest that kids become more creative and inventive when they are exposed to stories about magic. And encouraging preschoolers to engage in imaginative, fantastical, pretend play may help them develop better executive function skills, like impulse control. So if your child’s block-play seems focused more on fantasy than engineering, he or she is still reaping important cognitive benefits.

Stimulate interest in construction by providing children with character toys and other accessories

Is your child a reluctant builder? Don’t worry, don’t just give kids building blocks. Provide them with appropriately-scaled accessory toys, like people and cars. Such toys give kids ideas for construction projects (e.g., a garage for a toy car) and encourage pretend play.

Combine block play with story-time

Use toy blocks and block- accessories to illustrate parts of the stories you may read to your kids in a preschool. After each storytelling, give your kids access to the props. This tactic will increase pretend play. It will also give your kids ideas for things to build

I hope these few tips could enrich your time spent with your child, or maybe take you down memory lane and you sit and play with Building Blocks.

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