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All About Child Block Play

Block Play and the stages in Block Play

Rupa Sharat

All About Child

Block play provides endless fun for young children as well as for older ones. Research has proved that block play leads to better cognitive development in children. Block play involves a lot of use of visual and motor skills. It helps children understand spatial relations such as size, balance and height and in turn builds spatial awareness in a very hands-on manner. Block play encourages children to use skills like planning, designing the steps to execute the plan and problem-solving.

Building blocks is an area that provides many opportunities for children to use their imagination and express their creativity and individuality. The activity is very open-ended, unlike puzzles or sequencing where children have to follow a set rule to solve the problem.

Children can play with blocks both indoors as well as outdoors. It provides endless fun with children learning to build stable structures that represent rockets, buildings, homes, ships etc. These structures may not be functional but allow children to experiment with design and adds to the imaginary world and play.

Block play fun need not be limited to children, it gives equal pleasure to adults when they join in with children in constructing.

Research shows that children move through different stages of block play, and these stages are related to the level of cognitive development. Observing children during block play reveals a lot about their cognitive development as well as their understanding of spatial relations.

Stages of Block Play

Stage 1: Non Constructive Stage

In the non-constructive stage, toddlers carry the blocks from one place to another or might just enjoy banging them together or on the floor and enjoy the sounds the blocks make. They use their motor skills to grip and lift the blocks.

Stage 2: Stacking and Rows Stage

During this stage, children may stack the blocks in vertical towers and watch them fall or stack them as horizontal rows. As they stack them as vertical towers children are getting their first lesson on balance, and on spatial awareness as they stack them horizontally.

Stage 3: Bridging Stage

Children will typically learn to connect two blocks with a third one during this stage. It reveals the simple understanding of spatial relations. This is generally achieved by 3-year-olds.

Stage 4: Enclosure Stage

During this stage, children start arranging blocks in order to enclose a space or an object. Children are able to reach this stage once they understand the concept of inside, outside and around. Here they are building on earlier experiences and use complex thinking on spatial relations.

Stage 5: Structural Stage

During this stage, children can get very creative in their play and build complex structures characterized by symmetrical block patterns.

Stage 6: Functional Building

This stage is usually reached by four-year-olds, here children may create a structure or an environment with a purpose. E.g. They may build a hospital to facilitate their role play of visiting the doctor. They may use a block which may represent a telephone during dramatic play etc.

What do children learn while playing with blocks?

Children develop a lot of skills while playing with blocks which are of use at a later stage in their learning. Studies show that concepts learned from block building are the foundation for more complex learning in Science and Mathematics. While playing and building with blocks children learn about balance, gravity, weight and stability. As they pick each block they are assessing, estimating, sorting to get the right piece to realise their design ideas. Since children learn through trial and error they build concepts that are strong through their own experiences. Creativity, imagination, problem-solving, design skills, planning, spatial relations etc are some of the skills children develop. Block play not only helps in pre-academic skills but also helps build skills like turn-taking, cooperative play, respect for others opinions etc.

So what are you waiting for, go grab some blocks and dive into your child’s world! 

Related video and articles on play:

Video: Learn Math with Playdough: https://allaboutchild.org/learn-math-play-dough/

Article: Importance of Play: https://allaboutchild.org/importance-of-play/

Article: Importance of Play: https://allaboutchild.org/importance-of-play/

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