Playing with blocks may appear simple, but manipulatives like blocks are an excellent way to encourage STEM and STEAM thinking patterns in early childhood. Not sure how to initiate block play, or how you can form a challenge for your early childhood learner? Read on and we’ll give you some ideas for creating fun, educational, and challenging block play.
Early Childhood STEAM Learning With Block Play
Blocks have been a staple childhood activity for decades, and it’s easy to see why. Young minds can learn about balance, stability, and spatial thinking, all through experimenting with stacking and knocking over blocks. Why not take that learning opportunity to the next level? Check out these block play challenge ideas:
Challenge to Build an Exact Copy
Get out the blocks and create a structure. Either leave that structure as an example, or draw a picture of that structure (if you don’t have enough blocks to create the same structure twice). Challenge the child to create a copy of the image or structure you have created using the blocks.
As they become more skilled in creating a copy of your structures, add more details or make the challenges more difficult by adding balanced or more precarious features.
Challenge to Build a Concept
If the child is more imaginative, consider giving them a concept as a guideline. This is a great way to spark their imagination, and give them room to create what only their mind sees. Examples include asking them to build a car, a house, or a monster using the blocks.
Once they feel that they are finished, ask them to explain the different parts of their creation and how they made it.
Challenge to Build With or Without Certain Shapes
Either of the previous challenges can be combined with this one to add more difficulty to the game. Ask them to build something, either a copy of what you made or a concept, and then change the rules dis-allowing the use of a certain shape or color. Choose one that would have been the obvious choice to use, and see their imagination and problem solving skills come to life!
Buy STEAM Building Blocks Online
If you’re thinking that it’s time you got some building blocks for your early childhood learning environment, check out these brightly colored solid wood blocks, or these colorful foam blocks for quiet playtime. If you would prefer jumbo sized block play, check out these classic cardboard building bricks.