Blocks are readily available, adaptable to developmental levels and can be very reasonable in cost. Often when providers hear “blocks” you think traditional wooden blocks. While these are definites, think out of the box also. Blocks are about “engineering”, so the more opportunity to explore building in different ways the better. It’s also great to get blocks into outside play, whether more traditional, or ones such as: homemade wood slices, or sections of PVC pipes and connectors.
Looking specifically at math, block play helps children learn to:
- express quantities and measurements
- sort and match objects based on similarities and differences
- basic math concepts: numbers, shapes, counting, addition, subtraction, spatial relationship, more, and zero.
- Symmetry and patterns
- building block structures also encourages creativity
- problem-solving skills
A major benefit of block play is that it supports a broad range of learning standards/domains. Let’s consider a few:
• Emotional: Building with blocks and knocking them down provides a pleasurable experience for infants that they will do it repeatedly. The pride he feels at stacking blocks enhances self-esteem. Infants can begin to learn how to control their emotional expression of frustration as their teacher supports them when buildings fall or other problems arise.
• Social: Infants interact with their teacher and peers as they build with blocks. While play at this age is usually solitary or parallel, young children can observe others’ buildings and sometimes imitate them.
• Motor: Building with blocks requires fine motor control and eye/ hand coordination; as infants use blocks these skills are enhanced. Infants often carry big blocks, which helps to develop their gross motor skills.
• Language: Infants learn new vocabulary as the teacher labels materials, uses parallel talk, and asks questions about infants’ activities.
Thinking about everything covered so far, how would you possibly bring math forward in this situation? Infant crawling over provider’s lap to grab ball while preschooler is building with blocks.