Building with Blocks

Encourage your child's creativity and engineering skills with these block building ideas

Published on May 21, 2021

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by Mrs. Farnham (teacher, mom, CMoR member)

Do you have blocks for your toddler to play with? When was the last time you built something together? Building with blocks is entertaining for most kids (even my elementary-aged kid loves to play with blocks!) and has many benefits. Kids learn new spatial skills while trying to get the blocks to stack and balance. They learn about geometry by using different sizes and shapes of blocks. Fine motor skills are required to balance and connect blocks. Our children get all of this AND the ability to use their imaginations while building. 

If the blocks in your house have been sitting for a while without being touched, it may be time to pull them out for some playtime. Here is a read aloud to watch with your child to help inspire some creativity:

Tips for Building Together

It can be hard to build with blocks with our children because of our overwhelming urge to help. We already know what will be structurally sound and what won’t be. Kids, however, need the experience of trial and error to gain this knowledge. Here are some tips to help you have fun and give your child space to explore:

Play building assistant: If you think of yourself as your child’s building assistant, you can hand over blocks and participate while allowing the child to lead. I often take on this role because it is very hard for me to resist taking over while they build. I pretend that I have no idea how to build and let my kids boss me around. They think it is hilarious and they get to be in charge!

Build your own structure: Most toddlers are firmly in parallel play which means that they like to play near someone, but not together. I take advantage of this by building my own structures near where my children are playing. I talk about how our structures are alike or different. My structures often fall over so I can model how to problem solve. The best part is letting my children destroy my buildings. It’s about the process not the product, right?

Bring in other toys: When we run out of ideas, we often bring in other toys to give us ideas for things to build. My son loves to build houses for his various cars and trucks. My daughter loves to build towers for action figures to climb. I am a big fan of building ramps for toy cars.

Blocks on the farm

Embrace the appetite for destruction: Most toddlers enjoy destroying building block structures long before they are able to build. They lack the fine motor skills to build so they use their gross motor skills to smash. I would play a game with my son to see how many blocks I could stack before he destroyed my tower. We both had fun and I was laying to groundwork for him to get curious about building. 

Mr. Destructo

Let older kids build: Many caregivers assume that older kids do not want to play with blocks. All kids love to build things and time building with you is special. I would often give my elementary students challenges to use blocks to build something from their learning. They built the Parthenon, ships, the water cycle, simple machines, and many other things. If a child can build a model of their learning, he/she really understands and will remember these concepts. 

The Parthenon in blocks

Types of blocks: It is important to consider what types of blocks would be best for your child. I always enjoyed using soft blocks with my young toddlers since they often fall onto their toys. They are also easy to grasp and stack. As your children get older, you can try wooden or plastic blocks. Duplo and Megablocks are the major brands of larger interlocking blocks, but they can’t be used interchangeably so decide which you are going to collect. I personally love wooden blocks because they have some heft and can be used in so many different ways.

Birthday Parties at CMoR

Does your child have a birthday coming up soon? Birthday parties are back at CMoR! Let CMoR help you plan your Covid-safe party at the downtown location. Parties are held at specified times on Saturdays and Sundays. You get access to a private room at the museum to celebrate. All of your guests will get free museum admission and a carousel ride. I don’t know about you, but leaving my house for a party sounds pretty great!

Be sure to share this post and pictures of your block creations with us on Facebook or Instagram. Happy building!

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