What Do Children Learn Playing with Blocks?

9 January 2012

Blocks, an integral part of any preschool classroom, always bring questions from parents whenever they visit our classrooms.  "Aren't they just playing?"  "They are just building, right?" 
I always say, yes they are playing and building but there is more than that going on.  Through play, children are learning a variety of things so let's look at what there are.  First we have literacy.  They are expanding their vocabulary and language by talking about their buildings with their friends.  And they are learning mathematics skills.  Skills that include: number concepts, patterns and relationships, geometry and spatial sense and measurement.  
Let's look at science where they are learning physical science when they try to balance or figure out how to use a smooth surface to build on.  If the block area is well stocked then they are learning life science because they might be building homes for the animals that are in the area or they may be talking about the animals different habitats.  When props like wires and pipes and/or rocks, acorns, shells, pine cones and twigs are in the block area, child start learning about our earth and it's environment. 
Within the context of social studies they are learing about spaces and geography by talking about roads or drawing a map of the block area itself.  If props show people working in different jobs then they are learning about people and how they live. 
Art is being learned whenever the drama of building a pretend car and then driving it happens.  And visual arts could happen when a child decides to draw a picture of the structure he has created as a way of preserving it. 
Let's not forget about technology.  Technology is not all about computers.  We forget that basic operations and concepts of technology includes things like ramps, wheels, and pulleys.  Will you see these things happening in the block area - absolutely. 
So when a parent asks, I tell them it is my favorite place for kids to play in our preschool classrooms because there is so much learning that goes on.  So trust me when I say, "There is more to block play then meets the eye!"