Play and any hands-on experience is an invaluable part of a child’s cognitive development process. With everything a child builds with the blocks they happen to have- they learn something new. Whether they build a house or a tower and learn how many blocks they can place before it tips, or they realize that a pyramid is an infinitely better base than a single block.
Allowing access to different types of blocks may encourage different skills. Introducing blocks of different textures, sizes, colors and weights will allow for new combinations. Not only this, but blocks are an excellent teaching tool when trying to exemplify concepts, especially in mathematics. Blocks may be grouped by their size, shape, or weight as well as made into patterns.
Blocks may also help build critical thinking and descriptive skills. Perhaps the student is asked to copy a building or shape, or is asked to describe a block they have been given in as many ways as they can. The blocks themselves could be used as a measuring device or a meter for a given assignment.
Preschools using blocks to demonstrate scientific concepts in their most simple, natural form is a great idea. It’s a well observed fact that many preschoolers like knocking down what they have built as much as they had fun building it- so take that as a lesson in how to build something sturdier – or how hard you have to push before the structure collapses.
Use trial and error. Allow them to come up with a hypothesis and if it doesn’t work- try it again. This can also help to develop characteristics like determination, persistence, and resilience in the face of new challenges. Questioning the student will help demonstrate a pattern of thought they can use- if not A, then B. Which block is bigger? Should the bigger blocks go at the top or the bottom? Should all of the blocks be the same color? Are the yellow blocks heavier than the green ones?
Block play can, as mentioned above, be used to develop stronger language skills, too. If you refer to something a in a certain way- by using a more descriptive word such as “sturdy” to refer to a large, heavy block when it is used as a base, they’ll get what the word means. This goes for many vocabulary words. With the help of concrete examples, children can begin to describe what they are seeing and doing much more accurately than before- if properly instructed.
At the age most preschoolers are, their language abilities are at their most malleable and easily influenced. By setting a strong foundation and teaching how to remember practical words and concepts now, they will have an advantage in the future.
On the most basic level, playing with blocks is a creative activity. So many stories and adventures may be developed with the use of such basic tools and even more using thematic action sets, construction railway sets, etc. You can use these storied to help you child actualize their pretend scenarios- or use them as teaching tools. Adding other materials, allowing the child to come up with alternative uses for everyday objects develops useful personality characteristics including resourcefulness as well as critical thinking and creativity.
Encouraging the child to come up with more complex structures, descriptions, and scenarios will help their development along immensely – while they are having fun and maintaining a positive attitude. All this from such a humble toy as a simple set of blocks.