Blogger Amanda Roberson

Imagine, Design, Build- Block Play!

Why Blocks?

Constructive Play is a valuable experience for child development and for the acquisition of early literacy skills.  When children play with blocks they are engaged in the use of fine and gross motor skills, developing problem solving skills, hand eye coordination and download (1)visual/spatial awareness. Beyond these developmental skills needed for growth and school success block play also allow children to develop social/ emotional skills.  Children can learn conflict resolution, build self-confidence and engage in open ended play with free expression.  By creating new worlds, designing imaginary stories, engaging in identifying shapes and relationships between them while playing with blocks, children are developing early literacy skills.

Block come in all shapes and sizes!

LEGOS download (2)

Wooden Blocks

Foam Blocks

Cardboard Blocks


Including Blocks in your Library

  1. Select the blocks that work for your branch. Think about the space you have to allocate and the noise level you prefer to keep.
  2. Plan a way for blocks to be stored.  Will you use a block cabinet, baskets, bins or shelves? Whatever you choose make sure you have a plan in place for your customers to know where to put away the blocks when their play time is over. This keeps your blocks nice as well as saves on staff time.
  3. Encourage Customers to put away their blocks after playing. When kids clean up blocks and put them into your planed storage system they have to sort them which is a math skill! Offer a stamp or sticker for kids who clean up their mess.  We post signs around some of our more messy centers that encourage kids to clean up. After they clean up what they played with they can show the Librarian and get a stamp.  Most children will do anything for a stamp or sticker. They are low cost and will save you and your staff a lot of cleaning.
  4. Sanitize Your Blocks! All you need to sanitize these items is water, bleach and a spray bottle. Mix 1 teaspoon of bleach with 1 gallon of water and fill the spray bottle.  This mixture is good enough to kill germs but will not damage items, clothes, carpet or furniture.  Spray your items liberally at night and leave them to dry overnight.
  5. Know that all children will play with blocks differently depending on their developmental stages.
  • Carrying (blocks carried, not used for construction; young children around age 2)
  • Stacking (horizontal or vertical stacking; beginning around age 3)
  • Bridging (children create a bridge using two blocks to support a third; also around age 3)
  • Enclosure (blocks enclose a space; around age 4)
  • Patterns and Symmetry (balanced structures, decorative or symmetrical patterns; ages 4 & 5)
  • Early Representational (name structure during or after construction; age 4 ½)
  • Later Representational (announce name before building begins, often use props for dramatic play;age 5download
  1. Watch the Magic Happen! Observe the great creations and learning opportunities happen before your very eyes!

One comment

  1. Renee

    Wonderful posting about how librarians can support the early childhood education of children through the type of materials and settings that encourage open ended play! This infomation provided is great to demonstrate how play is the work of children as well as how a simple toy like blocks can support so much learning for children in the library. I like to think about some of the kids who come into my library – families who can’t afford preschools or families who might not have open ended toys like this at home. The children’s library can be a way to access and model these important play opportunities.

    I am tossing around the idea of a drop-in building program for kids of all ages and their families during school vacation week in April. I have collected various types of blocks, cardboard cylinders, and plastic cones that I have acquired through my own collection as well as going to the local recycling center for educators (RRIE). Some items are big and some are smaller. For this program, I’d like to offer our auditorium as the building zone with opportunities for kids and their families to build on the floor and at the tables. It will be fun to see what the kids come up with.

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