Do you have old fashioned blocks? Or have the simple building toys lost their appeal to snazzier toys? Here’s one rule to learn: The more a toy does, the less likely your child will be to use her imagination when playing. One milestone I assess in children is, “Can he stack seven blocks at age eighteen months?” I often wonder if children are missing this skill due to lack of exposure to blocks.
Well, wait no longer. Manhattan Toy's new MiO block sets will have your children having fun while gaining more skills than any app can teach. What do children learn from blocks? Everything!
Block play requires fine and gross motor skills. It enhances problem-solving abilities, mathematics skills, and language and literacy readiness. It builds self-esteem and feelings of success. Ever watched a child building and throwing down a tower? There is a reason blocks are a must have in every home with young children.
When I tried building with my toddlers there was little building going on. At age two, children carry, touch, pile, and knock down the blocks. They enjoy carrying them around in baskets. By age three, youngsters learn to configure blocks horizontally and create stacks vertically. Then, they can learn to create bridges, starting with simple ones, and moving towards more complex structures that use planning and patterns.
FUN BUILDING IDEAS TO TRY:
During block play, children can recreate scenes from your community, such as a school, park or grocery. Here are ways to get them started:
Use pictures of local buildings to give them ideas. One innovative colleague created a “Building book” with pictures of a new house from beginning to the last stages of construction.
Accessories such as cars, doll house people, or airplanes make block play more interesting. (Check out the MiO people and cars - you’ll want those!)
Use blocks to create roads or train tracks for miniature cars or trains.
How Tall? Stack blocks to your child’s height. How many blocks does it take? Try measuring and comparing to other toys and items.
Build block homes to fit different-sized dolls.
Make block “people” using photographs taped on blocks! You can also add logos to create buildings. Add a logo you often see and see if your child recognizes it.
Create a maze out of blocks.
Sort blocks by size and color, and you’ll sneak in some great math skills!
For older kids, build a city! Include buildings, roads, people and more.
Ask your preschooler to draw pictures of what they built.
Are you avoiding block play because of the mess? (How did I guess?) A room corner may be just the place to build, as it provides protection from traffic and allows you to save their creation for extended building and learning. Children need both the time and space to explore, follow through on ideas, and create. Make sure you can provide both before starting any “new construction.” Remember to give advance notice that playtime is coming to an end. Clean up time can be a positive learning experience - recognize its value as a matching and sorting activity, and allow time for it in your routine. Bulldozers are a fun idea in helping tots dismantle and cleanup. Before dismantling, use the opportunity to acknowledge each structure. Recognition of work and effort is important, building confidence and inspiring further advanced block play. Don't forget to take a photo and post it for us to see!