Blocks are one of the most enduring childhood toys and iconic American buildings inspired these materials. Play researchers call blocks “open ended” toys because they can be used in so many different ways. Playing with these types of toys allows children to use their imagination as they create a wide variety of structures. Block play can also help children develop persistence and important problem solving skills as they figure out how to put things together to accomplish their goals.
Babies explore blocks using their hands and their mouths. This exploration is an important first step as they begin to learn about materials and objects. As babies are able to sit on their own they will begin to stack blocks and then knock them back down!
Toddlers are developing their motor skills and block building is a great way to encourage this. Letting them play with a variety of sizes, types, and shapes of blocks helps them practice these skills. Toddlers are also beginning to build more complex structures but they still enjoy building tall structures and then watching them fall as they explore cause and effect.
During the preschool years children often use their imagination when building with blocks. From building houses and castles for dolls, to building stables and zoos for animals, blocks become a way to enhance their pretend play. Large blocks that can be used to build spaces big enough for them to get in and play are also fun at this age.