Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Block Play: Building a Child’s Mind

What are you able to build with your blocks?
Castles and palaces, temples and docks.
Rain may keep raining, and others go roam,
But I can be happy building at home.
Let the sofa be mountains, the carpet be sea,
There I’ll establish a city for me…
…Now I have done with it, down let it go!
All in a moment the town is laid low.
Block upon block lying scattered and free,
What is there left of my town by the sea?
by Robert Louis Stevenson
from A Child’s Garden of Verses

That poem always makes me feel nostalgic! Blocks are at the top of my “must have” toy list. Their simple design allow for flexible usage, making it the quintessential open-ended toy. I have many a fond memory of playing with blocks when I was growing up.

It’s been a top toy for generations of children. Not only does it boost creativity and allow for endless hours of play, but there are a whole host of other educational benefits as well:

• Increases hand-eye coordination
• Enhances spatial awareness
• Enhances logic thinking capabilities
• Enhances language skills as they narrate what they are doing or describing the desired end-product.
• Math skills are sharpened in the process of grouping blocks together, adding or subtracting blocks from the group, etc…
• Improves social capability by encouraging cooperation as they build “something” together.

Here is a wonderful article that gave me the inspiration for my title and lays out why block play is so important.

There are so many options for buying blocks. My set can be found here. I love my particular set because even the youngest of kids can ‘help’ put these blocks away and it is so convenient to haul them around to various parts of our home in the wagon!
One word of caution: While I mention above that there are “social benefits”, I’ve found that with my active, very physical little boys that this sometimes required more mommy participation in the early years as they learned the important skills of playing peaceably with each other and not turning the heavy wooden blocks into weapons when frustrated.  Is this a boy thing? I don’t remember doing this with my 2 sisters when I was growing up.  Then again, there is a lot of fuzzy memories from my childhood...

I would also add LEGO's to this category and feel it has similar benefits, especially when you get the more open-ended building sets instead of just planned, pre-set forms with little building involved.  My boys play for hours and hours with them and make all kinds of beautiful creations that will line my buffet table in the front room from time to time.
Keegan's birthday present for me last year - a long-stemmed rose.

[Open-Ended Play Series, Part 5]
PART 1     PART 2     PART 3    PART 4 


  1. That long-stemmed rose is tooooo cute!!! Don't you just *love*love*love* little boys??!! :)

    Happy Summer to you!

  2. Yes Camille!!!! Being a parent is such a wonderful blessing.