By Cindy Butland
Operator/Director – Next to Home Early Learning and Afterschool Center
Who doesn’t love wooden blocks? They are one of the most creative toys around for children to play with. As an educator, I truly believe this, as I get to witness these play opportunities on a daily basis. There are so many variety of blocks that can be provided to children, and the blocks are so open-ended that what the children come up with is always a mystery until the end. The wooden blocks are such a great natural material; they have their own smell, texture and colour so children can use all their senses.
Blocks can be an ideal learning tool because children will have countless possibilities to create and a wonderful use of their imagination while building and creating. While playing with wooden blocks, a child can develop their muscle coordination, discover how different each block feels, and how different wooden blocks go together and stay together.
When I see a child play with blocks, I love to see how they are using so many of their senses (eye-touch), and developing new skills, social (sharing, working together), communication (talking out their plan), and imagination to name just a few. During all of this, the children don’t even realize that they using or learning all of these senses and skills, while they are also building strength for other parts of their bodies.
When I see children play with blocks, it usually starts out with one child creating their own structure, car, castle or something from their imagination; within moments I will see two or three children join into play. During these times, the children are creating a bond with each other and encouraging each other to try new creations, with or without words. It is such an amazing thing to see happen between friends (old and new, young and old).
A lot of people may believe that blocks are just simply stacking wooden shapes together, but it is so much more. Not only creating a friendship and using their imagination, the children are learning to talk to each other, which helps expand their voices and thoughts. The children are also learning math skills, how to share, and how to work together and problem solve.