Research has shown that children can learn a variety of skills — math, science, language, reading, and problem solving — by playing with blocks.
“Kids are actually doing what engineers do,” says Jim Elicker, associate professor in Human Development and Family Studies at Purdue. “They’re conceiving of a problem or a product that they want to make. . . . Then they’re just constructing a prototype and seeing if it works the way they want it to work.”
Engineers do those kinds of things in real life.
That’s why Purdue Extension brought Block Party to Indiana, an educational program that gives parents opportunities to help their children develop important life skills by playing with blocks.
“I had no idea the things they got out of it,” says Julie Friedrich, who participated in the program with her child in Clinton County, which was organized by Susan Tharp, a Purdue Extension educator.
“Play is important, and play is an appropriate learning activity for young children, so let’s make sure we keep play in children’s lives,” Elicker says.
The blocks are more than play. Research has shown that children who play with blocks show marked aptitude and achievement improvements by 7th grade and into high school, including improved vocabulary. Block play also teaches impulse control, which improves school performance and results in fewer behavioral problems.