“Whatever good things we build end up building us.”
- Jim Rohn, American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker
Ever notice how almost every play area or classroom has a set of blocks available, including the classrooms here at JCC of Lehigh Valley? It’s for good reason - building blocks have long been considered a crucial skill set builder and an educational activity for kids.
How did building blocks come about and why are they so popular? Building blocks are actually some of the oldest toys in the world, originally dating back as early as the 1600’s and 1700s. Back then, when families set about constructing their homes, it’s likely that their children enjoyed building their own smaller-scale version using toy blocks.
Fast forward to the last 10 years, and building blocks have taken on a renewed interest by many. For example, David Rockwell developed a playground equipment system that includes larger-than-life foam pieces that adults and kids alike can use.
His idea was so popular that the first imagination playground came together in New York City back in 2009 and is still there today. It’s only two hours away from Allentown, so plan your visit today!
So what exactly are the benefits of playing with toy blocks? Let’s take a closer look:
- Creativity: This is considered one of the most valuable skills a child can learn. With building blocks, kids can create their own vision, partner with someone else, or just see what emerges. What looks like a castle to one child might look like something completely different to the next child!
- Math and Vocabulary Skills: When children are playing with blocks, they are likely to count, notice and create patterns, and identify a block’s size and length. These all are core to mathematical skills. Vocabulary also gets a huge boost, as children learn to ask for “the red one” or the “one with A” on it, thus building their language development in the meantime.
- Motor Skills: Building blocks also have a huge benefit on both fine and gross motor skills. Kids learn how to grasp a block, which strengthens their hands and wrists. Secondly, they learn to how to place a block in such a way that it does not topple over. This is a big part of hand-eye coordination that children begin developing early on in their lives.
- Social Skills: Like most kids’ activities here at the JCC of Lehigh Valley , building blocks is more fun in groups. Children learn how to share, work together, and strategize on how and what to build together. The best part? Watching the blocks fall down and squealing!
- Spatial Skills: Spatial skills are not typically thought of in the classroom, but very important nonetheless. One study showed the preschoolers who played with blocks for five 30-minute sessions showed improvements in mental rotation, which means they were able to use their brains to “mentally rotate” an object and anticipate where to place it next.
In essence? Playing with toy blocks provide more than enough benefits for kids to stay in the classroom for a long, long time.
Looking for kids’ activities in the Lehigh Valley area that incorporate building blocks?
Be sure to check out the Keva exhibit at the DaVinci Science Center, where you can let your children build as much they want. Or purchase a small set for Amazon for your house, and let your kids play anytime they want!