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The Benefits of Building Buddies

There are numerous benefits to building block play that are worth taking a look at; some are quite obvious while others are little less so. Let's jump in and start building our understanding, shall we?  (Pun totally intended)

Image by Glen Carrie

The earlier you can encourage a child to develop their fine motor skills the better off you are.  Of course you need to watch out for building block safety.  If a child is prone to put things in their mouth the best bet is to wait.  But, if it’s safe for your child go ahead and start with blocks.  Any size block is beneficial so give younger kids or kids who struggle with popping things in their mouths bigger blocks like Duplos.  


What are fine motor skills and why do we care about them? Fine motor skills are the use of small muscles in the hands in coordination with the eyes.  These skills will be used for the entirety of a person’s life.  These skills are what help me as I type these words.  They will also help in using pencils and writing, and scissors, as well as using eating utensils.  Basically, the more a child uses their hands the better they will be at using them.  Building blocks because of their size allow children to use and develop those motor skills even more.  As their fingers grasp for the blocks their brain is making connections about how their body works.  The more brain connections are made at a young age the better.  


Building blocks have three dimensions, therefore playing with them automatically enhances your child’s spatial reasoning.  They learn how to compare sizes and use words like larger, smaller, longer, shorter, and so many more.  Also playing with the blocks in their hands creates connections in their brains about size.  The more they play and try to fit blocks into spaces the more they learn what does and does not fit.  


That reasoning will come in handy as children grow and develop.  Think about the last time you were trying to rearrange your living room.  You may have moved the couch by the windows just ro realize once it was there that it blocked the door.  Spatial reasoning helps with that, and building with blocks helps with spatial reasoning.




Inevitably when playing legos, something will go wrong.  You will have placed the wrong block in the wrong place. Maybe a piece in the middle of your tower wasn’t centered and the whole thing toppled down.  Perhaps, you used all the blue for the ocean and now there is none left for the floor of your castle like you had planned.  No matter what the reason there are always obstacles.   

Playing with blocks allows kids a chance to have mistakes happen and issues arise that they must learn to work through.  When we work through issues in play we can translate that skill set into the real world and real situations.  Learning perseverance in play will mean that when the difficult math problems come up, as we know they will, your child is more prepared to stick with it and keep trying.  Maybe more adults should play with legos in their off time too.



Fractions are made easy with building blocks.  They are different sizes that all still fit together.  Find a long block, then go down a size and see how many it takes to cover the long block.  Now you have fractions.  If it took four smaller blocks to cover the longer one then the smaller block is ¼ the size of the largest one.  

Finally in your middle and high school math fill a bag with legos.  Count how many go in, count how many of each color you pull out if you draw five different blocks.  Now you’re studying probability. 


Building blocks offer a unique combination of factors that help with counting and into advanced math like fractions and statistics.  As you play with your child count the bumps to help them find the right pieces.  You can count the number of blocks that it takes to create a tower then count them again to make a pair.  If you want to be more advanced get out a ruler and measure the tower.  Next see if you can build a tower taller than the first.  


Being able to recognize and identify colors is a necessary skill for everyday life. When a child plays with legos they are being exposed to all manner of colors.  It’s important that kids aren’t playing alone if you want to gain this benefit during your child’s play.  As they pick up a lego they say things like, “Oh great choice.  I love red.”  Or you could hand them a block and say, “Look, daddy’s favorite color, blue.”  Or even something like, “Let’s make the grass outside our building, can you find all the green blocks?”  


When we play with our children we enhance not only their play, but also our relationship with them, bringing us to our last point. 




Building blocks are versatile.  It can be a solitary activity, but it’s so much more fun when you play with others.  Playing with building blocks is a great way for you as a parent to direct the play.  You can help them count.  You can help with learning their colors.  You can direct their spatial reasoning.  And as you do all those things you are also building trust and affection between you and your child.  You are creating positive associations with not only the play but also with you and with being part of a team.  


Being a team player can be hard.  It’s especially hard for kids who don’t play team sports.  So what do you do?  You encourage them to play with others in all sorts of ways.  During building play the limits are only set by the imagination of those playing.  So, your kids can work together to build a city.  Maybe they want to build a castle and rescue the dragon from the evil queen.  Maybe they create a whole new world all on their own.  No matter what they create they can build lifelong relationships and skills.  

Summitted by Blogger, Jamie Harvey 

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