How Children Learn Through Block Play

childrens block play benefits

How do children learn through block play in early years?

We’ve all seen a toddler’s pleasure when knocking down block towers. No sooner is it built, than it is gleefully knocked down.

Building with blocks provides one of the most valuable learning experiences for young children, they really are the epitome of an open ended resource. They allow a child to express their own creativity whilst designing, constructing and building. They require a child to think creatively, problem solve, negotiate and invent, whilst exploring the concepts of balance, stability and symmetry, through trial and error.

When toddlers are first introduced to blocks they will experiment, quickly discovering cause and effect, as they fill and dump, stack and knock down or make pathways and tracks. Early concepts and language are also being developed with opportunities to extend play and master new skills and understanding.

At three years old, block play will show subtle developments, as they move into a simple constructive type of play. They may play alone or near other children and begin to engage in pretend play. They may start to build enclosures which resemble familiar places and become aware of concepts such as sorting, ordering, counting, one to one correspondence, size and shape.

At four and five years old, children’s block play is more experienced, developed, balanced, coordinated and organised.  Constructive play becomes 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, vehicles, and animals to engage in imaginary play. They are learning about more complex patterns, classifying, sequencing, counting, fractions and problem solving and they are beginning to develop an understanding of spatial awareness and its vocabulary.

Every child plays with blocks in their own unique way and has therefore developed their own unique understanding of how blocks work. Next time your child is playing with blocks, observe what they are doing. Are they stacking into a single tower? Are they building a line? Are they bridging or building an enclosure? Are they building a 3 dimensional building with walls? Are they constructing a flat blue print type building or the tallest tower they can manage? This will give you a valuable insight into the level at which your child is playing, and allow you to provide enhancements to develop their play.

How can you enhance a child’s block play? Offer children a variety of construction toys and resources! At Early Years Resources, we stock an extensive range of Construction Toys & Resources to improve a child’s development and learning – including building blocks, bricks, cogs, gears, nuts, bolts, marbles and tubes! Our early years construction selection also incorporates outdoor construction resources, wooden construction, magnetic construction and sensory blocks.

What type of construction resources do you think most benefit early years? Let us know on our Facebook or Twitter!

link to construction toys and resources

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