Wooden blocks have been a part of children’s playthings for a long time. The common standard today is the set of blocks with letters engraved on one side and painted with bright colors. Numbers and animal imprints usually fill the other sides. Kids love to play with these simple toys and can actually learn a lot from them.
- High Tower – Stacking single blocks, one on top of another, to see how high of a tower you can make without it toppling over is usually one of the first things kids do with blocks. That ‘high’ tower might only be three or four blocks the first time, but that will grow with practice.
- Pyramid – As the stacking skills grow, towers change to pyramids. Each row gets narrower until there is only one block left on the top. Proper placement is the key with both the pyramid and the high tower.
- Demolition – This is the funnest part for most kids – knocking them down! Sometimes it’s just a swipe of the hand and other times it is throwing a bean bag into the carefully laid structure. The destruction always goes much faster than the building. The most fun with this part is doing it to someone else’s creation. By doing that, you can usually start an (equally fun) sibling war.
- Alphabetize – The letters on the blocks cover the entire alphabet. This lends itself to ordering the blocks alphabetically and putting each one in the appropriate place.
- Spell – As children learn how to spell their names and other simple words, the blocks begin to be used as hands-on practice sets. They are ideal for the young ones who have not developed their small motor skills to the point required to guide a pencil or crayon.
- Color matching – The bright primary colors on the blocks can be used in learning the names of the colors by creating a matching game. Making a game of learning is often the best way to help kids learn.
- Fill the bucket – Toddlers often enjoy dumping items out of a bucket and then filling it back up again. This simple ‘game’ can occupy many kids for a significant amount of time. Blocks are great items to use for this playtime exercise.
- Count – Blocks can also be used for helping a child learn to count items. Counting can be combined with ‘filling the bucket’ too, by having the kids count the number of blocks they each place in the bucket.
- Sorting – Because of the colors on the blocks, they can also be used to learn about sorting and creating patterns and sequences. The simplest method would be to sort the blocks into groups by color. All the reds go in one pile and all the blues in another, etc.
- Numbers – Since the blocks do also have numbers on them, they can also be used to help teach the numerical symbols that correspond to the numbers that the children are learning to recite.
It is the simplest toys that carry through from generation to generation. They allow children to use their imagination and their motor skills to experience the great sense of accomplishment that we all continue to enjoy.