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STAWAR: Building blocks of life

Date

  Mon 9 Oct 2017

Tags

  blocks, wood, organic, math, magnets

URL

  http://www.newsandtribune.com/opinion/stawar-building-blocks-of-life/article_d94dcb5a-a948-11e7-b380-53bb206275bb.html

Abstract

San Francisco child development expert Stevanne Auerbach, known as Dr. Toy, says, "One of the most important areas of play involves building with construction toys of all kinds. This is an important creative and learning experience for boys and girls of all ages. The benefits last for a lifetime."

Content

Block play is especially important for later success in learning mathematical concepts. Researchers from Florida State University found that children who play with blocks as toddlers generally do better in math later on -- especially algebra. Based on my algebra grades, it is obvious that I didn't get to play with blocks nearly enough as a child.

Walter Drew from the Institute for Self-Active Education in Florida says, "Block play shows the opportunity for conceptual understanding in the area of structural engineering as children explore forces of gravity, compression, tension and the relationship between materials and successful design to achieve balance, stability, and even aesthetic sensibility." In the early years, blocks encourage fine motor and sensory development, as children grasp them, feel their surfaces, gauge how heavy they are, notice their colors, and transfer them from place to place.

By experimenting with blocks, toddlers learn the basics of cause and effect. By matching and comparing blocks, they learn about size and how things are similar and different. Block play also contributes to developing self-esteem as children feel proud about their ability to make simple structures. Linguistic concepts such as "pick up," "stack," "balance," "stack," "tall" and "short" are also encouraged.

As they get older, block play helps children learn to sort, count, match and order objects. In 2016, researchers from Indiana University studied the impact of block building on spatial ability in 8-year-olds. Using brain imaging technology, they found that such play resulted in an improved ability to mentally rotate and analyze 3-D shapes. Block play also encourages both communication and cooperation with peers, and increases imaginative play.