Archive for Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Parents as Teachers: Blocks still relevant, important toys

April 8, 2014

On March 29, the Bonner Springs City Library and Parents as Teachers hosted Books, Blocks and Bubbles Young Child Fair. Over 300 people attended and participated in many activities.

One popular part of the fair is the PAT BLOCKFest, a family interactive event that uses five block play stations to introduce children and their parents to the educational value of blocks. Wooden unit blocks, wooden planks, small 1-inch unit cubes, large and small foam blocks and large cardboard blocks are used. It is fun and interesting to see children stack and build with the blocks and knock them down.

Most parents like to buy their child a toy that will grow with them. Parents should choose toys that can be used in a variety of ways. Toddlers love to take apart, put back together, pull out, put in, add on, and build up. Choose toys that are "open-ended" in the sense that your child can play many different ways with them and at different ages. Toys that are open-ended spark your child's imagination and help him develop problem-solving and logical thinking skills.

I personally think every family should have a set of non-interlocking blocks. Blocks offer open-ended play and can be used in different ways as a child ages. Blocks can be used to make a road, bridge or house. They can be held up to an ear as a phone, or put in a bowl and used as pretend food. Blocks encourage:

• Imagination development: children can make anything they want or imagine their creation to be anything.

• Independent play: children can decide what to make and play according to their ability.

• Language skills: children can use words to describe their creations.

• Math skills: children learn shape-related words, i.e. long, tall, narrow, triangle, square and cylinder.

• Muscle development: children use fine motor muscles to put the blocks in the correct place and large motor muscles to lift the larger blocks.

• Science skills: children use blocks to understand weight, gravity, balance, smallest and heaviest.

• Self-esteem: children are excited and can feel good about their accomplishments when building or knocking down the blocks that someone else builds.

• Social skills: children can work together when building with blocks. Younger children develop social skills while taking turns putting the blocks in place.

• Spatial skills: use words like inside, on top, over and under to help your child.

Did you know there is a progression of the way children play with blocks? It is interesting to see how children of different ages play with them. Younger children will stack the blocks or line them up. Older children will begin to use blocks to make enclosures and may add toy animals or people to their creations. Let your child decide what he makes and you follow his lead.

Parent educators can provide you with information about this topic and many other child development issues. Parents as Teachers is a free program open to all families in the Bonner Springs/Edwardsville school district who are expecting a baby or who have a child birth to age 3. Check out our facebook page at Bonner Springs/Edwardsville Parents as Teachers or contact me at higbeed@usd204.net or 913-845-3811.

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