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Skills Children Develop

Young block architects experiment with shapes and gravity. They discover how to balance and create pleasing proportions. As they play with others, they negotiate and cooperate. When they build, they classify materials and use their motor skills. Their animals roar or moo, trains whiz along with cargo. Blocks are alive with learning potential.

Setup Ideas

Block builders need space to spread out, away from children’s traffic paths. Engine sounds and falling blocks can be noisy, so the block area fits best near similar active areas. Curriculum themes often lead children to incorporate pretend play with block building, so these areas are often placed next to each other.

Label open, low shelves with pictures of block shapes so children can safely sort building materials as they put them away. A relatively hard, smooth carpet invites children to play on the floor.

Woodworking and building structures with recycled items often incorporate art materials, so these are good neighbors for the block area, too.

Teaching Strategies

With blocks, children extend their understandings about bridges, transportation, farms, space travel–whatever the topic. Your comments can pique children’s thinking. "I wonder if you’ve tried…." or "I see you built three arches in a row."

Introduce construction skills with cardboard and wood. Begin with stacking, gluing structures together, and painting. Go on field trips to observe structures, offer new materials, and watch children’s structures take off in new directions. Close supervision is essential as older children master the use of woodworking tools.

Suggested Materials

  • accessories: planks, road signs, multicultural people, animals, vehicles
  • blocks: unit, cardboard, table
  • building sets: bricks, logs, train tracks
  • carpentry: soft wood, real tools, C-clamps, bench, safety goggles
Close adult supervision is required to ensure safety of young children. Projects with small parts and scissors with metal blades are for children ages 4 and older.