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Block Play

Having written about the importance of limiting exposure to branded products because these come with a script that defines play and limits creativity, I want to show what happens when preschoolers engage in block play. This is classic, open-ended, self-directed play.

With a variety of wood blocks at their disposal, these preschoolers are free to choose what fits their vision. Being creative involves assessing a situation, considering what might be done with what’s available, formulating, and carrying out a plan. When working with others, the process becomes collaborative. Everyone needs to articulate ideas, collaborate, and cooperate to insure a successful outcome.

block play

Here the children have arranged hollow blocks and embellished their structure with unit blocks in different shapes and sizes. In the process, the children explored shape, size, and weight, directionality, spatial relationships, and balance. Some blocks are stacked horizontally, others vertically; open-sides are visible on some, solid sides on others. Working as a team, the children have faced challenges, solved problems, delighted in the process, and relished the outcome.


Unit blocks offer the widest variety of shapes and sizes and invite elaborate building and patterning. To create this structure, the children experimented with symmetry and balance as the crossed arches atop the center ones depend upon careful placement to remain in place. Successfully installing the top element required patience, well developed eye-hand coordination, and motor control.

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