Discover the ten benefits of block play and learn how simple building activities support all learning domains. From fostering creativity and problem-solving to promoting social interaction and physical abilities, block play has a significant impact on children’s development.
What is Block Play in Child Development?
Block play is an imaginative, open-ended learning activity where children use blocks to construct and investigate. Block play generally develops in predictable phases called the 7 stages of block play.
10 Benefits of Block Play
Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of block play in each learning domain.
What cognitive skills are in block play? Block play supports the development of cognitive skills, including problem-solving, spatial awareness, and emergent math skills.
Block play encourages children to analyze challenges, experiment with different solutions, and think critically to overcome obstacles and meet goals.
#2 Math Skills
Block play introduces emergent math concepts like quantity, shape, sorting, patterns, symmetry, and measurement. Along the way, children develop spatial awareness while exploring block shape, size, proportion, and spatial relationships.
Block play promotes language development through new vocabulary, opportunities to communicate, and supplying props in pretend play and storytelling.
#3 Vocabulary Expansion
During block play, children learn construction-related vocabulary, such as build, stack, balance, structure, demolish, and construct. Block play also encourages directional vocabulary. Children use direction words to describe blocks’ position, location, and orientation.
Through block play, children develop verbal and non-verbal communication skills as they share ideas, collaborate, and negotiate with their peers.
Blocks can be props for storytelling and imaginative play, encouraging children to create narratives and develop storytelling skills.
#6 Cooperative Play
Block play fosters teamwork and cooperation as children practice taking turns, creating, and problem-solving together.
Block play boosts children’s self-confidence and sense of accomplishment. Building with blocks is an opportunity for children to develop persistence to reach their goals.
Building with blocks is a creative form of self-expression. Children can use blocks to bring their ideas, plans, and imagination to life. Block structures can represent make-believe places in dramatic play or artistic 3D masterpieces.
The physical benefits of block play include promoting fine motor and gross motor skills. During block play, children use their hands and hand-eye coordination to build. Children also go through a range of large movements, from squatting to standing on tiptoes to complete structures.
#9 Fine Motor and Manipulation
Block play promotes the fine motor skills of hand strength and dexterity as children grasp, stack, and manipulate blocks. As children align and fit blocks together, they develop hand-eye coordination too.
#10 Gross Motor Skills
During block play, children practice gross motor skills of squatting, carrying, reaching, rising onto tiptoes, crawling, and more to complete structures. Larger blocks further test children’s balance and coordination.
What Type of Skill is Building with Blocks?
On the surface, block play looks like a straightforward fine motor activity. But block play helps children build skills in all learning domains, such as cognitive, language, social-emotional, and physical development.
What are the Benefits of Manipulative Play?
Manipulative play, such as block play, benefits children’s fine motor development. It builds hand strength and dexterity as children grasp, pinch, squeeze, twist, stack, sort, and align objects. Children also develop hand-eye coordination as they work to align, connect, or activate manipulative materials (also called manipulatives).
Like block play, manipulative play also benefits other learning domains, including cognitive, language, and social-emotional domains.
Block Play Activities
Block play has so many benefits for kids. Fantastic, right? Check out my post, The Best Block Play Activities & Environments for Young Children, for dozens of block play ideas. You’ll find block play activities for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, along with block games for kids.
Block play has incredible benefits for children’s learning and development. Block activities and open-ended block play foster creativity, problem-solving, and social interaction, while improving cognitive, language, and physical skills. Check out our favorite block play activities or the stages of block play to learn more.