During block play children experiment with muscles, senses, vocabulary, emotion, and social interaction. Children use their imaginations and solve problems when exploring with blocks. The complexity of block play changes as children grow physically and mature cognitively. Listed below are a few activities that caregivers can initiate to support learning for toddlers.
Make a demolition game of knocking down a short tower of blocks with small construction vehicles.
Make a game of filling and dumping blocks from a small bucket.
Build a short wide tower. Place a small animal on top and cover with a fabric square to make a bed.
Add toys (wheel barrow, wagon, shopping cart) to move blocks around and extend learning.
Make a tape “road” on the floor to push ”block cars” on.
Cut a block-sized hole into a large sturdy box to use as a mail box in a block area.
Play “Copy Me.” Arrange two or three blocks simply and see if child can replicate.
Add farm animals, construction vehicles, plastic food, baby dolls to the block area.
Since toddlers enjoy toppling blocks, use foam, cardboard, plastic, or wood blocks.
Take digital pictures of children’s creations and display them where the children can easily see.
Keep large sheets of newsprint paper in block area so children can trace blocks, or draw pictures of their creations and add their narrations.
Post pictures on wall.
Keep out only the amount of blocks that children can reasonably put away on their own or with a minimum of help.
Alternative materials to use as blocks:
Large cardboard boxes reinforced with clear packing tape.
Old phone books stabilized with packing tape and covered with pretty contact paper.
Cardboard brick blocks.
Empty cereal boxes and oatmeal canisters reinforced with contact paper.
Clean, empty plastic coffee cans and sugar canisters (glue tops on to save on pick up time).
Infant and Toddler Activities
Sensory Motor Development: Individual, 8 to 18 months
Goals: To increase sensory motor skills; to increase cognitive development
Materials:A variety of small blocks of different sizes
Procedure: With the child in a sitting position, hold a small block just outside of the infant’s reach and see if he will reach for it. If not, place the block closer to the infant’s midline or preferred hand, if established. If the infant takes the block, offer a second and then a third to see what he does. Vary where you place the block for reaching. Sometimes place it close to the center of the infant’s body, sometimes more to the right or left so he has to maintain balance while reaching. Give the infant two blocks and keep two matching blocks. Clap them together or bang them and see if the infant will imitate you.
Assessment: The infant will grasp the blocks, explore them, and use two blocks together in some way.
Integration:Some children need to be encouraged to reach, grasp, and imitate.
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