When there is a toddler or a preschooler in the house, parents are looking for options to keep them engaged with things that are fun, and at the same time, help the little ones grow and develop skills, preferably with limited screen time. And Play always does the job.
Play gives a child the chance to be creative and build a world for themselves! For this reason, toys that are meant for construction or creative play are always engaging, fun, imaginative, and educational, all at the same time for the kids.
One such classic toy is building blocks. Building blocks are one of the few toys which give kids the chance to explore their imagination and build something new and different every time. They serve as a great Open -ended toy giving children hours of constructive and mess-free play.
Playing with blocks and building something on their own, gives kids the opportunity to explore and try new techniques, and eventually, they learn many concepts that are required in later stages of life.
Why do kids need construction toys?
Besides being a great way to engage children for a long time, building blocks are versatile and ageless prompting even grown-ups to join. The playtime for kids becomes a family time for everyone in the house to bond and have a great time.
Blocks help children learn to take turns and share materials, develop new friendships, become self-reliant, increase their attention span, cooperate with others, and develop self-esteem.
As they build and explore, kids develop a wide range of skills in early numeracy such as patterning, size, geometry, measurement, classification, quantity, weight, and length.
By learning through cause and effect, children are discovering the properties of objects and how they affect each other and start understanding the concept of balance, space, gravity, and stability.
Block play promotes the development of spatial awareness and develops hand-eye coordination as children reach for, lift, move and build with blocks, strengthening their fingers, hands, and arms, and also developing their pre-writing skills.
Building blocks are a great choice for screen-free engagement for the child and also encourage kids to learn how to follow instructions, or take the lead and plan the game. This increases their attention span and thereby increases their focus on any task. We might not realize but all these factors contribute to preparing children for school.
Benefits of playing with Building Blocks
Playing with building blocks can have many benefits for children, including:
- Fine motor skill development: Using building blocks requires children to use their fingers and hands to stack, balance, and fit the blocks together, helping to improve their fine motor skills.
- Hand-eye coordination: Building blocks require children to visually align blocks while manipulating them with their hands, helping to improve their hand-eye coordination.
- Problem-solving abilities: Building blocks require children to think critically and come up with solutions to problems, such as how to build a stable structure or how to fit a block into a specific space.
- Creativity and imagination: Building blocks provide children with endless opportunities to be creative and use their imagination as they construct different structures and designs.
- Maths and science concepts: Building blocks can also be used to teach children basic maths and science concepts such as size, shape, weight, and balance.
- Social skills: Building blocks can be played with other children and can also encourage children to share and take turns with the blocks.
- Language development: Playing with building blocks can also help children develop language skills as they describe their creations and talk about how they built them.
How to choose age-appropriate construction material
Building blocks are designed differently for different skill levels. Choosing the correct building block is important for your child to be able to engage with the material.
For example, if you are planning to get a set of blocks for your 2-year-old, instead of directly getting interlocking blocks, you could start with blocks that are easy for the kids to start with, like Stackable blocks. Interlocking blocks can be given to kids who are 3.5 years and older.
Beginners Blocks(1-3 years)
Stackable Blocks that are large and have rounded edges are best for beginners as these types of blocks are easy for small hands to grasp and are safe for children to play with. Additionally, blocks that are made of durable, non-toxic materials are a good choice for children of this age.
There are many options for stackable blocks, but we would recommend going for Wooden blocks as they are natural and free from toxins and chemicals unlike plastic blocks, they are durable when it comes to wear and tear due to frequent use and due to their aesthetic nature, many parents find it very appealing.
Magnetic Tiles( 3years +)
There are colorful Magnetic blocks that are available in the market for kids to try before going for interlocking blocks, to start building structures with basic shapes and eventually build something spectacular and complex. It is an open-ended toy where kids can bring their imagination to material and build their mental maths muscle. These can help children develop their fine motor skills, and promote their creativity and imaginative play.
Taste Safe Play dough (1.5years +)
When it comes to creativity and building something, nothing can beat Play dough given the range of creative play and sensory experience a child gets through it. Taste safe Play dough is a great choice for children who like to have messy play. Play dough is an excellent sensory toy made out of food ingredients and non-toxic colors and is safe for the child even if put in the mouth by mistake. On the other hand, the store-bought Clay is loaded with chemicals and toxins and poses a safety hazard for your child.
Squeezing, rolling, and shaping play dough helps to develop and strengthen children's fine motor skills, as well as hand-eye coordination. Apart from that, making different shapes and structures out of play dough is therapeutic and calming for children, especially for those who are anxious or have difficulty focusing.
Playing with Sand (1.5 years +)
As kids, everyone would have some amazing memories of playing on the beach and creating sand castles. Playing with sand and making sculptures and different sand art is one of the amazing parts of growing and children learn different skills as a result. As children mold and shape the sand, they are building the muscles in their hands and fingers which will help them to be able to write and draw with greater precision and control.You can also get kinetic sand for your children as they are also a great option for free play and also aid in no. of skill development in kids. Playing with kinetic sand can be used to teach children about the properties of matter, such as mass, volume, measurements, and fractions.
You never know, whether it is the simple sensory play with sand or making the traditional rangoli with different colors, the joy is incomparable.
Tips and tricks:
1. Try and try again-
The best part about construction toys is that they can be used over and over to build a different structure every time and this allows the children to try new things and build something unique or simply upgrade an old design.
2. Mix and Match-
Try mixing two or more sets of blocks and try something different and see how things work out. This will encourage kids to expand their creative thinking and try new things.
3. Make it more challenging-
Once your kid gets the hang of playing with blocks, give them pointers and new challenges to set creative guidelines and see what they build. Putting these minor limitations on kids’ creativity will help them practice problem solving and may produce some awesome results!