Baby Hints & Tips

Early Childhood Tips: Block Play

by Jan Jones

The value of block play 

Social and Emotional Development 

  • Confidence
  • Competence
  • Independence – blocks can be used by a child alone, in parallel or cooperative play so that they learn social skills.
  • Initiative
  • Co-operation – sharing and respect for others
  • Responsibility


  • Talking to self and others – dramatic play and imagination.
  • Labelling objects and actions
  • Expressing ideas, questions, solutions to problems
  • Developing stories

Cognitive Development

  • Learning characteristics of objects (size, colour, weight, shape, etc.)
  • Problem solving – learning the skills of building e.g. larger blocks at the bottom so that blocks do not topple.
  • Predicting
  • Experimenting
  • Science and maths concepts

Physical Development

  • Fine and gross motor skills
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Visual perception

Art and Creativity

  • Creative expression
  • Aid and support to dramatic and imaginative play
  • Developing patterns
  • Concepts of balance and symmetry

Block play for the under three year old

An introduction to blocks can be made at a very early age, when the six-month old baby is playing in a cot. By giving the baby a soft block either made of material-covered-foam or a stuffed material cube, the baby is able to explore the six sides of the block, both with his/her hands or with the mouth. The baby’s eyes and brain will be discovering and learning to recognise the 3D shape of the block and if there are different colours or pictures on each side of the cube, the shape will be more obvious. An added attraction can be the inclusion of a small bell inside the cube.

As the child grows older he/she will show an interest in stacking blocks, clumsily at first, but between 16 – 18 months he/she will be capable of successfully completing a 2 -3 block stack, and by the age of three years can achieve a tower of up to 10 blocks. The child will experiment and replace the blocks over and over and will proudly and excitedly demand acclaim for his/her achievement. Remember that block play, as with all other activities for young children, is governed by their overall and continuing development.

Do you use block play with your toddler?

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