Block Play: What Are Children Learning?

block-playEarly childhood education is focused on children learning through play. Research has proven children learn through “hands on” engagement and through social interactions with adults and other children. One of the struggles I see educators facing is explaining this to parents. As teachers, how do we explain to families that yes, their child is playing with blocks, but as they play they are strengthening several areas of development? As I thought about this question several cognitive, social, emotional, and motor skills came to mind that educators can share with parents. The following is a list that you can share with parents about the different skills their children are learning as they play with blocks, and the learning domains that go along with each skill.

When building with blocks, children are:

  • Using oral language in a variety of situations (Language/Literacy)
  • Matching objects in a one-to-one correspondence (Cognitive—Math)
  • Learning appropriate social skills for group behavior (Social, Emotional)
  • Using vocabulary to designate quantities (Language/Literacy, Cognitive—Math)
  • Using vocabulary to designate relationships (Language/Literacy, Cognitive—Math)
  • Demonstrating concepts of part/whole (Cognitive—Math)
  • Using vocabulary to compare objects (i.e., same/different or more/less) (Language/Literacy, Cognitive—math)
  • Forming groups by sorting and matching objects according to their attributes (Cognitive—Math)
  • Knowing and discussing the consequences of actions in social relationships (Language/Literacy, Cognitive—Science)
  • Acquiring non-locomotor movement skills (Physical/Fine-motor)
  • Creating, repeating, and/or extending patterns (Cognitive—Math)
  • Developing hand-eye coordination (Physical/Fine-motor)
  • Observing and following safety rules (Social, Emotional)
  • Learning ordering (Cognitive—Math)
  • Learn mapping skills (Cognitive—Math)
  • Learn physical representations of addition and subtraction (Cognitive—Math)
  • Develop classification skills (Cognitive—Math)
  • Learn size and shape recognition, differentiation, and relations (Cognitive—Math)
  • Discuss ways people help each other (Social, Emotional)
  • Understand gravity, stability, weight, and balance (Cognitive—Science)
  • Think, create, and implement plans (Cognitive, Social, Emotional)
  • Discover properties of matter (Cognitive—Science)
  • Discover the names and functions of buildings (Social, Cognitive, Language)
  • Develop respect for the work of others (Social, Emotional)
  • Make choices; make decisions (Social, Emotional)

 Children are doing so much more than just playing in your classroom. How will you communicate this to families? How can you advocate for play in your program/community?

This entry was posted in Best Practice, learning through play, Preschool and tagged on by .

About Tracy Schnirring

I am a professional development specialist at 4C for Children My main role is supporting preschool teachers through classroom coaching to best practice and Step Up To Quality (Ohio’s star-rating system). I am also certified to conduct program/child assessments and facilitate several workshops for 4C. In addition to my role at 4C, I am a daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and mother. The person who brings me the most joy in life is my 7-year-old boy. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, playing sports with my son, and being outdoors.