The toddler twosome have been having a lot of fun with blocks the past few weeks. They are one of my favourite thrifty toys because just about everything can become a block to explore, touch and stack with a little imagination.
We had some fun on the verandah recently with some large blocks made from pallet noggins after Daddy pulled the boards apart for other projects. You can read more about those HERE.
The great thing about blocks…especially for younger toddlers, is that they provide opportunities to engage in play using other interesting materials. By adding a few items you might have on hand around the home you can extend the learning and play experience and challenge little minds….
Sometimes i think it is nice to set up a block area first for younger toddlers just as a change…i set this up for an after nap activity and the toddler twosome had great fun knocking blocks over and exploring the materials and textures before they even thought about stacking na building! This is all part of block play…they don't need to build a huge tower to be having fun! I added some smaller wooden blocks, shredded paper and their favourite basket of stones to extend the play with the larger pallet blocks……
Different shapes and sizes make for great problem solving and experimenting….
Baskets to collect favourite blocks are also a great addition and needn't cost much money…we have a few favourites from the op shop and the coloured blocks were all discovered cheaply at garage sales and markets. There is no need to buy new if you have the time to do a little searching…you don't need a perfect set…the more odd shapes and sizes the better in block building and discovery…just add to your collection when you can and store in accessible baskets and boxes.
Blocks are great for exploring textures and the concept of hard, smooth, rough etc….the girls had great fun exploring the pallet blocks with their toes here…..great for rocking back and forth!
Ruby began to see how she could build them up as she is currently at the stage of wanting to build towers and knock them down…this is a great cause and effect learning experience…..
I know it looks as though they have splinters in this photo but i did sand them, it is just very soft wood that flakes after being wet (which they did as they were out in the neverending rain!) There was no danger to little hands i promise…but do always check your thrifty materials for safety of course!
As well as being a lot of fun watching them ‘all fall down'! You can introduce basic language and counting concepts to your toddler while they build and knock down too…talk simply about what is happening and how clever they are….what else could they do?, where is the green block? A toddler is a curious little person and by expressing an interest in what they are discovering you will be supporting their language, thinking and problem solving skills.
Repeating the game over and over is a toddler's way of learning process, repetition and problem solving….
Tara really enjoyed adding smaller pieces to build upon the larger blocks…we talked about big and small while she played.
Both in their own little worlds of discovery here!
Play soon turned to incorporating other materials which encouraged them to manipulate different textures and sizes….there is that horse again!
Tara enjoyed placing her stones on the blocks repeatedly…but always just that little bit differently….what could you add to basic block play that wouldn't cost you a thing? Blocks can be cereal boxes covered in coloured paper, empty tissue boxes, egg cartons, empty nappy wipes containers…the possibilities are only limited by your imagination!
We sure had fun with our pallet blocks though…they are a very thrifty and unique addition to our block play boxes.
You may have some of these colourful sort of blocks at home too. We have been fortunate to again pick these up at garage sales but they aren't an expensive option anyway. They provide a different experience to wooden blocks and are good for little hands just beginning to fit things together…they offer a sense of satisfaction along with fun! I often put blocks up onto a table like this as it provides a different perspective for building than always on the floor.
Ruby loves to incorporate the foam blocks and animals into her play at the moment. She likes the soft texture of the foam blocks but also really enjoys exploring the smaller cube shaped blocks. I like to mix things up…try not to be too worried about only offering one sort of block at a time…it doesn't matter if they are all mixed up…it is how a toddler investigates and explores…How do these fit together? Why are they different? Can i join them together? If you are a bit of a neat freak like me you can pack them back into their separate baskets at the end of the day i promise!!
Tara began exploring fitting other items into the blocks here and this kept her busy for quite awhile…so much thinking and problem solving!
She began to turn them over and try to fit her little animal into the holes…they really are such curious little things….if only we kept that inquisitive and exploratory nature as we grow up!
Blocks are great outside in the sandpit……
Or on a mat in the sun…try adding some leaves, twigs, branches or little blocks made from thick branches sawed into round pieces (these are on our wish list from Daddy!)
Look around your home and see what you can find….these empty containers kept Tara very busy and she showed such pride every time she got the tower a little higher!
As children become older (the twins are only 22 months here) block play will become more elaborate and can become houses for dolls, cars, castles, animals…any object can be incorporated and these magnificent creations can take over your lounge quickly. Often a child will be heartbroken to pack their creation away so sometimes it is nice to take a photo they can proudly show off to other family members!
Maths, science and language concepts can all be incorporated into block play as children get older but that is a post for someone other than me as i like to focus on the younger toddlers' and their play!
I hope i have provided some ideas for thrifty block play in this post and perhaps introduced the notion that blocks are so much more than just a fun resource..they are excellent as learning tools too! What are you going to pull out of the cupboard for block play tomorrow?
andie jaye says
the little extras you put with the blocks make it look so much more appealing! it would make me want to dive in to play!
Salwar Kameez says
I hope you are all enjoying a fantastic week!
WoW! So many fun ideas for blocks! My son is just getting into stacking and sorting them…he would love to take them out in the sand! Thanks for stopping by famiglia&seoul! Following all of your great ideas!
Thanks for stopping by Gina…blocks are great fun outdoors…glad you got some inspiration!
I love the idea of setting up blocks for my little guys to wake up to. They love building and usually make their own towers. It never occurred to me to set them up before they even get out of bed. Great idea!
Toonie Mcdougall says
Thank you for a wonderful idea. I m a mum of 2.9 years old boy. I just started to study Children’s services. Before that I have no idea about “invaitation to play” at all. I never really let my boy play in the way you did. Now I have to be a bit more creative and let my son imagination grow.