Providing opportunities for block play is a great way to build skills that we ordinarily think of as academic or school related. Blocks are especially beneficial when children are allowed to freely explore and manipulate the blocks in a variety of engaging ways. Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright agrees. In his autobiography, he credited block play as the beginning of his interest in architecture.
Socially -- Blocks encourage children to make friends and cooperate. Large block play may be a young child's first experience playing in a group, while small block play may encourage an older child to work with others in solving problems. Children's self expression and confidence in making decisions and choices are enhanced.
Physically -- When children reach for, lift, stack, or fit blocks together, they build strength in their fingers and hands, and they increase eye-hand coordination. Around two, children begin to understand which shapes will fit where, and they get a head start on understanding different perspectives -- skills that will help them to read maps and follow directions later. Blocks help kindergarten and primary grade children develop skills in design, representation, balance, and stability. Coordination develops so eyes, hands, small and large muscles will work effectively together.
Intellectually -- Blocks help children learn across many academic subjects. Young children develop their vocabularies, language, and symbolic thought as they learn to describe sizes, shapes, lengths, weights, positions and spatial relationships. Preschoolers and kindergartners develop math skills by grouping, adding, subtracting and eventually multiplying with blocks. Designs and patterns gradually emerge. Older children make early experiments with gravity, balance, symmetry, and geometry. These science investigations provide a foundation for later science learning, particularly about determining cause & effect via experimentation.
Creatively -- Blocks offer children the chance to make their own designs and the satisfaction of creating structures that did not exist before. Beginning at the age of two, children may use a variety of blocks for pretend-play. Children may become life-sized actors in large block structures, or use figures to create dramas in miniature landscapes.
The Importance of Play!
The Importance of Play! Block Center
Why is the block center so important? This is a center that involves the whole child. There is physical attributes because of the actual process of picking up, carrying, and building of the blocks. There is the intellectual aspect because of the thought process going into the creation of the architecture. Then there is the social aspect because of conversing with neighbors, working around and with others, and building what they know. Finally the emotional aspect of creating something unique and beautiful. The block center is an open ended process. A child can't take the finished product home, so in a way it frees a child to "experiment, plan, change, negotiate, and enjoy without the pressure of an end product."
Stages of Play: