Playing With Blocks

by Deb on September 22, 2009

I think most people are aware that older babies love knocking things down and will crawl over from the other side of the house to knock over any tower you build.  Not only is stacking things a developmental milestone, so is creating a ‘train’ or ‘wall’ at around 2 years.  I’m not saying this to panic anyone or say you need to teach your baby, it’s just interesting to know it’s something toddlers will work out whether you teach it or not.

We love playing with blocks, we eventually found some nice wooden ones from an educational supply store, although the maths teacher in me is a bit disappointed – I’d prefer them to come in shapes that fit together to match different sizes.

One of the main things they are exploring with blocks is gravity, forces and friction – how do I stop things falling down!  But there are a lot of other things they can learn, from making sure the bedroom has a door in it to colours to patterns.

Babies – There are lots of different stacking toys you can buy, but I’ve also used little plastic containers with lids.  They work well because the indent around the top gives them some stability.  Tins of food are good too, but they tend to be heavy!  Baby girl has been helping put shopping away by stacking tins in the cupboard for quite a while.

Nested Hemispheres

Things that are a variety of different sizes but stable give them lots of ways to try stacking to see what works best.

Toddlers – They have  a bit more co-ordination now and will try stacking all sorts of things.

baby girl's creation

Block on another toy. Photo taken by 4 yr old.

She’s more interested in knocking things over, but still had a good time copying me and her big sister.

Pre-schoolers – There are two developments here.  Firstly, they start building things as part of imaginative play.  So here big girl has made a bus and a building.

big girl's creations

And they start copying and doing patterns.


I’ve been doing lots of patterns myself, and big girl has obviously watched then produced this on her own.  A perfect example of letting them learn for themselves.  She also did a vertical tower that alternated squares and cylinders.

Advanced designs – Well it’s not the Taj Mahal!  But both my husband and I sit with the girls and build our own things while they are playing.


Sometimes they join in or help, sometimes they try their own version later, sometimes they just knock it over!


Extension – Can you see what’s special in this picture?

Missing Pyramid

It started off as a pyramid with gaps in it that my husband and big girl built together, then they very carefully pushed blocks to take them out.  The one halfway up on the right is being held on by the weight of the blocks above it.  See what interesting things you can create!

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