Block time! Your child wants to play blocks (again!), but you are out of ideas for playing. What do you do?
Block play is a developmentally appropriate activity for toddlers. Playing with blocks offers multiple opportunities for parents and caregivers to connect with a child socially, emotionally and cognitively. You and your child can stack blocks in a variety of developmentally appropriate ways well beyond placing blocks one on top of the other.
When It Clicks
Children make connections and build brainpower through input from all five senses. Hitting blocks together to make audible sounds gives young ones a chance to explore the physical properties of the blocks through their senses. Once you build a tower of blocks, remind your child about the sounds the blocks make when they tumble. Identifying the colors, shapes, and textures of the blocks are other ways to build cognitive skills through sensory input while stacking blocks.
The Classic Stack
Building towers or stacks of blocks requires balance, problem-solving skills and coordination. Show your child how to build towers that are tall, wide or narrow. Build several stacks side by side and identify the smallest, tallest or widest. Have your child rank the stacks from smallest to largest. Identification of the properties of the stack helps children to learn sorting skills and descriptive terminology.
Place blocks in groups by color or shape. Then, place one block of a different shape or color in the group and ask your child which block does not belong. This type of activity builds beginning problem-solving skills and pattern recognition. For another variation, place a variety of five to seven blocks on a table. Ask the child to look at them and then take one block away. Ask which block is missing.
Sequencing for Fun
Choose two different colored blocks with the same shape. Place the blocks in a line as you call out the color sequence. For instance, choose square blocks in red and yellow. Place the blocks as follows: red red yellow yellow red red yellow. Then, ask your child to recognize the pattern and determine which color block should come next in the line. The answer is yellow. As you child progresses, you may increase the complexity of the repeating patterns by adding more colors and shapes for variety.
Walk the Block
Children love kinesthetic activities. Building gross motor skills is a part of the process of play. Walking and running are examples of gross motor skills. Have your child make a path with the blocks that spans across several rooms or through doorways. Use curves, corners and switchbacks to create the paths. Walking beside the path with your child can help promote gross motor skill development.