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Block Play Teaches Children Many Skillsby Micky Smith
Do you remember playing with building blocks when you were a child? The first blocks I remember were the wooden “ABC” variety. I can still see the bright letters and pictures that were carved onto those blocks.
Blocks are not only versatile toys, they are wonderful educational tools, also. The variety of blocks available today is tremendous, ranging from wooden unit blocks to soft, squeezable blocks for infants.
Most early childhood classrooms have a set of unit blocks, sturdy wooden blocks that come in many sizes, each based on a multiple of the basic unit block. Unit blocks teach children math concepts such as adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.
To encourage imaginative play, provide simple accessories children can use with blocks. For example, sticks propped up in balls of play dough or modeling clay can become “trees.” Dollhouse people and toy cars, trucks and airplanes can be added to transform the blocks into a playhouse and community.
Provide a convenient container for storing blocks and a storage area that children can easily reach. Don’t forget to teach children to pick up blocks after play. Picking up after play develops organization and self-help skills, as well as independence.
Homemade blocks offer children a lesson in recycling and creativity. Karen Stephens, an Illinois State University child development instructor, gives the following suggestions for making homemade blocks:
Other activities for encouraging creativity in block play include:
For Release: Week of 08/29/04