I recently found an article regarding block play that caught my interest.
If you have ever watched your child play with blocks in our classroom or in your home and wondered what they could possibly be gaining, look at this snippet from the article.
When children play with blocks, they are practicing mathematical skills. In selecting blocks of different sizes and shapes and comparing surface volumes and areas, for example, they are unwittingly using classification and seriation (Hirsch, 1996). Cleaning up involves math too: sorting identical and dissimilar shapes, and organizing by size (Henniger, 1987).
Because it involves measuring lengths, widths, and heights (if only by eye), block play develops a child’s ability to mentally visualize relationships. Such manipulations are similar to those used in geometry and algebra during the child’s later school years (Henniger, 1987).
Constructive block play also involves the use of spatial configurations (Reifel, 1983), a vital aspect of mathematics and science generally (Casey, Pezaris & Nuttal, 1992). A study that evaluated the block constructions of four-year-olds (in 1982) and compared them with their test scores in high school (in 1998) supported the hypothesis that a child’s ability to create complex block constructions can predict mathematical ability. Interestingly, the study found a difference in achievement levels between boys and girls only when the boys were given greater exposure to blocks. When both were given equal opportunities to develop their skills, there were no gender-related differences (Stannard, Wolfgang, Jones, and Phelps, 2001).
Click on this picture to read the entire article.
We love blocks in our classroom!