Block play

little girls playing with blocks

Learning through block play

Everyone knows that playing with blocks is essential to learning (and loads of fun, even for grown-ups). But what exactly do children learn as they line the blocks up, stack them, plan and build and bash them over? Harriet K. Cuffaro has some great insights into the value of block play. Read them.
boys playing with unit blocks

Block play and maths

"When children play with blocks, they are practising mathematical skills, " write Pamela C. Phelps, Ph.D. and Laura L. Stannard, Ph.D.

 

"Because it involves measuring lengths, widths, and heights (if only by eye), block play develops a child’s ability to mentally visualise relationships. Such manipulations are similar to those used in geometry and algebra during the child’s later school years" Read more.

block play

Bring back the blocks!

For many young children, hands-on, sensory experiences with three-dimensional objects have been replaced by two-dimensional screens and worksheets. This is detrimental to their learning.

 

With all the evidence linking good spatial skills with future achievement in all STEM areas, we must find a way to bring back the blocks. “I am more convinced than ever that blocks are one of the most essential materials for the early childhood classroom,” writes Rosanne Regan Hansel. Read more.

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playing with blocks

Osian's story

We all know that block play is good for children, but here’s part of an email we received from Vikki Curtis in Wales which portrays just how powerful constructive play can be. 

 

“When Osian started nursery at 3 years old, his use and understanding of language was very good. He also had excellent understanding of social language cues and non-verbal communication and extensive vocabulary, but he made most of his sounds at the front of his mouth. Osian quickly realised that he couldn’t be understood all of the time and as a result developed an anxiety stammer.

 

Osian was referred for speech and language therapy. By this point he was stammering most of the time and started “giving up” in the middle of sentences. His therapist worked with him to find ways to help his talk and had advice for me as his parent. We tried all of the strategies… but the most successful one was almost an accident!

 

Playing with blocks has always been one of Osian’s favourite activities. He loves to envelop and disconnect things, and blocks provide the opportunity to do both.  He would play for extended periods of time, building structures, hiding toys inside and then knocking them all down! Eventually, we noticed something…

 

Osian didn’t stammer when he was playing with blocks. He would talk to himself – fluently. No stammer. At all. Blocks gave him the opportunity to lose himself so completely in the play that anxiety disappeared. He also had plenty of opportunities to rehearse what he wanted to say. He realised that he was speaking without a stammer and used this new found confidence to talk in other situations.

 

Osian has now been discharged from speech and language therapy. He no longer stammers - but he does still play with the blocks!”

 

Read more about the many ways that block play supports learning and development.

 

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boy and girl play with Outlast blocks by Storage unit

New Outlast point of play storage!

Effective, durable storage is a must for any outdoor area. The new Outlast storage unit crafted from rot resistant Accoya® wood provides a child-safe, convenient space for your Outlast blocks and crates. Additional resources, such as watering cans, sand toys, outdoor mark-making materials or natural loose parts fit too.

 

“The Outlast storage unit is perfect for us as it can be positioned permanently at the point of play,” notes Heather Forsdick, a kindergarten teacher at Herne Hill School. “ It allows the children to access resources while they're playing….. take things out and then put them back as well, which is fantastic.” See how children at Herne Hill School interact with their new Outlast storage unit and blocks in this 3 minute video.

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