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Building Blocks: Fun Block Activities for Babies, Toddlers, and older Kids!


A great book to read if you are interested in building blocks is The Complete Block Book by Eugene Provenzo. There is a wealth of information in this book about the historical emergence of building blocks as an educational tool, as well as detail on studies showing how building blocks develop children’s social, cognitive, and motor skills.

Baby with ABC Alphabet Soft Blocks by Melissa & DougFollowing is an edited list of structured block play ideas from the book to enjoy with your children.
: These building block activities are by no means intended as substitutes for free and open ended play by the children. Instead consider these ideas as part of structured lessons and alternate ways that building blocks can be used in an educational setting, or even at home:-)

1. Practice shape words - put a handful of blocks into a bag and have the child pick each out one by one. Have the child describe it to you without looking! Have the child only use the sense of touch and his vocabulary to describe the block.

2. Make your own shape sorter - Have the child choose about 6 blocks and then have him trace them onto a piece of paper. Color in the shapes according to the colors of the blocks that were traced. Let the child then match up the actual blocks with the tracings. This is a great activity for practicing small motor skills and involving 3 fun activities- tracing, coloring, and block play. Make sure to rehearse shape and color names!

3. Learning “attributes”- Take 20 blocks of different shapes, sizes and colors and have the child sort them into groups by a like trait. Don’t tell the child how to sort them! Then, have the child explain why he sorted them the way he did. Younger children are only able to sort by one attribute-color! Older children will be able to sort by shape and size. You can see how your child’s cognitive skills develop over time with this exercise.

4. Domino effect - Have your child collect 10 or so same size rectangular blocks and set them up so that toppling the first will create a domino effect. Children love watching the dominos fall and it teaches them cause and effect. This exercise also helps develop small motor skills.

5. Seriation - Have your child take a set of blocks and place them in size order. For younger children start with only 2 blocks as this is a very difficult task for them. Gradually add blocks to the set. Placing things in order (seriation) is the skill developed through this exercise. Also, visual discrimination is practiced.

6. The pattern game - This is especially fun with older children. Take a group of blocks of varying sizes and colors. Create a pattern with 2 blocks and have the child copy it. Once the child copies it correctly add another block. Have the child copy that as well. Develop a pattern, do not build a structure. Once you have something like 2 red blocks, 2 green blocks, 2 red blocks, have the child guess what will come next. Older children will see the series developing and anticipate the next block or two. This game develops seriation and visual discrimination.

7. Math made easy! For many children math can be made simpler by having them use concrete objects to represent numbers. With a set of blocks a child can set up 2+2=4 by counting out two blocks and counting out another 2 blocks and then joining the piles together to count 4 blocks. Early math skills are made easier by concrete representation. And remember, if your child can add, he CAN subtract! Just show him.



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