Blog Post by Sarah Vick

Block play is not just for fun—it can also help shape a child’s future. Children can build confidence in their design and building abilities through playing with blocks. This belief in their skills can encourage children to pursue a career in STEM, such as architecture.

Architect Lester Walker understands the importance of block play. A professor of architecture, Walker has written eight books and developed an educational toy, Texo™, in a partnership with Guidecraft. Texo is a Latin word, meaning to weave, twine together, plait, construct, and build. He designed Texo so children could “gain a richer understanding of form and function through a scalable toy.”

Texo is designed for multiple age levels with elements that advance directly with the growth and skill level of an individual child. Allowing for practice in stacking, sorting, and sequencing, Texo offers block play activities that encourage children to explore different aspects of architecture.

If you’re in search of a more classic approach to children’s block play, wooden building blocks for kids are ideal. Unit Blocks are simple, stackable blocks that vary in their shape and size to inspire creative construction.

Block play helps to advance ability in design and engineering. In Block Play: The Complete Guide to Learning and Playing with Blocks, the elements of design and engineering inspired by block play are outlined. They include the following:

  • Pattern
  • Balance
  • Creativity
  • Shape
  • Order
  • Symmetry
  • Planning
  • Appreciation
  • Self-expression

Free play with blocks supplemented with structured activities can help children develop these skills.

Below is a sample activity from Block Play.

Tabletop Blocks

Materials:

  • Groups of 10 unit blocks on trays
  • Copy of “Tabletop Blocks” poem

Teacher-Assisted Activity:

  1. Read “Tabletop Blocks.”
  2. Discuss different structures mentioned in the poem. How might the structures look?
  3. Divide the class into groups of three to four children.
  4. Give each group a tray of blocks and ask each group to work together to erect a castle, town, or barn.
  5. When each group is finished building, ask the children to tell you how the poem ends. Let them demonstrate the ending by putting the blocks away.
  6. Explain that you will leave the poem in the block center and they can build the structures mentioned in the poem.

“Tabletop Blocks” by Sharon MacDonald

Stack the blocks
Up so high.
Very tall
To touch the sky.

Build a castle.
Then, a town.
Make them strong
So they won’t fall down.

Build a barn
With straight-up sides
And curvy roads
For tractor rides.

Build a city
With signs that show
When to stop
And when to go.

Stack the blocks
On the tray.
It’s time to put
Them all away.

Block Center Activity:

  1. Make a large poster of the poem so the children can see the words from a distance.
  2. Place the poster in the block center.
  3. The children can build a castle, a town with roads, a city, or anything else.

Suggestions for Assessment:

Photograph the children working together making their block structures. Write anecdotal records to document that a child can represent objects and ideas with blocks.

Learn more about other building blocks for toddlers and preschoolers in the Block Play section of our website.

Additional Resources: