There are endless ways to play with blocks with your preschool-age child, and you might be surprised by how much blocks can help them learn.
From solving maths problems to learning how to read, blocks can be a great free resource to engage your child's fine motor skills and imagination. We've put together a list of our favourite activities to help spark their imagination.
Pom-Pom Block Sorting
If you have hollow blocks and a packet of different coloured pompoms, pour the pompoms into a pile, and ask your toddler to split them up by colour. Turn the hollow blocks upside down, and help them to match the colour of the pompom to the colour of the block, and then count how many pompoms are in each block so your child starts to learn some simple maths skills.
Block Counting Tower
One of the easiest activities for learning with blocks is to count as you build. Start counting how many blocks you use to help them to become familiar with numbers and counting. If you have number mats, you can practice building towers that are the same number of blocks as the number on the mat, and before you know it they'll be counting to 10 all by themselves. It's a great way to improve their maths skills.
Recreating Block Drawings
A fun block play activity for preschool children for learning maths is as easy as drawing a pattern onto a sheet of paper and getting your child to recreate it with blocks. Draw squares of different colours, and ask them to build the same shape in the same colours using plastic or wooden blocks.
Fill In Block Shapes
Create some shapes with tape on your floor, and let toddlers follow the lines with wooden blocks until they've completely covered the tape. During the activity, ask your toddler questions about the shape, like how many sides it has, or if they know any other things that are the same shape. This will get your child learning while they play, which adds value to the activity straight away.
Frozen Ice Blocks
All you need to do to create some fun science activities for your toddler is to pour a few small blocks (LEGO work well) into a container and fill to the top with water. Leave the containers in your freezer for a day, and bring them out once they're fully frozen for your children to play with. Kids will be amazed while they try to free the blocks from the ice, and watch it melt as they touch it.
If you have an easel at home, you can try this fun block activity using wooden blocks and contact paper. Give your toddler a completely new way to create art by putting block shapes together on the easel. These kind of activities are a great way to encourage children to think outside the box and become more creative.
Egg Carton Block Play
Another great fun way to make blocks for free for your kids, is by chopping up egg cartons. Paint each one a different colour, and use them for fun building activities and ideas.
Measure How Tall
Start your toddler thinking about their height with one of the most simple of our block activities. Simply place the blocks in a line that's longer than your child, and get them to lie down beside them and work out how many bricks tall they are.
If your children are having fun doing the measuring block activity, start thinking of other ideas for things you can measure. Why not try measuring a door, sofa or even another family member?
Using blocks is a great way to create patterns, which will help your children improve their maths and creative skills. Using coloured or shaped blocks, create a simple pattern, and ask toddlers to build the same pattern alongside. While you're making your pattern, it can be helpful to say out loud what you're doing, for example: "I'm using a red block, and now a green block," so children can link the words to the patterns they're building.
If you have fabric blocks to play with, wash each one and add a few drops of natural essences or scents on to each one. Encourage your toddlers to play with each block and smell them to help them get used to the different smells and find out which ones they love.
Note: Please be mindful of any allergies your child might have!
Special Painted Blocks
Let your children unleash their artistic skills with a pack of unpainted wooden blocks (Jenga blocks work well for this). Encourage them to paint the blocks different colours. Once they're dry, cover in a non-toxic varnish to keep the paint from spreading, and make sure your child knows that the blocks are their special creations to boost their confidence. Asking your child to share their special blocks with a friend is one of our favourite ideas for practicing kindness.
Playdough Block Play
Teach your child imaginative independent play by adding building blocks to play-dough. Kids will learn to problem solve and create the ideas in their head, and they'll love using the play-dough to stick blocks together. Play-dough is a great addition to block activities for sticking them together and making new shapes.
Help your child create the tallest tower you can out of blocks. Invite them to observe it and knock it down. This is teaching your child about cause and effect, and helping them learn about actions and reactions.
If you don't mind getting your blocks messy, try using them to print fun patterns onto paper with your child. Just dip the end of the block into poster paint and print onto the paper. Your child will start learning about how colours mix together to create new colours.
Letter Learning Block Game
This simple block play idea a fun way to help your child with learning to read . Simply label some blocks with a letter from A to Z, and write the letters on small pieces of paper too, and place in a bowl or tub. Ask your toddler to pick a letter from the pieces of paper, and try to match with the same letter. This block play activity will make it easier for children to recognise letters.
Do you have any giant blocks at home? Create a fun block area for your toddler to explore their imagination in, and suggest different ideas of what the block building might be. Is it their own shop? Is it a house they can play in on their own? Starting to develop your toddler's original ideas is a great confidence builder.
Homemade Giant Boxes
Giant building blocks for activities can be expensive, and some of us don't have the space to keep them for block play days. A great free alternative to buying blocks to play with is to make your own! It's as simple as keeping packaging boxes and taping them back up so they become cubes for your child to play with. You can recycle them once you're finished building with them, or even better, make them into new crafts!
Toddlers will love to brush up their painting skills by decorating the giant boxes you've collected. Try painting each one a different colour or just having fun and painting them with whatever you and your toddler feel like!
Creative Building Boxes
If you're a creative parent, why not paint your homemade boxes to look like bricks, bushes or rocks to spark your child's imagination even further! This is one of our favourite free ideas for making home dens for your kids.
Build a Giant Fort
Favourite childhood memories almost always involve creating a den. When you're very small, dens are even more magical, because a few simple boxes can create a huge secret block area to play in. Cover giant blocks with blankets and fill with cushions and fairy lights for an exciting area that preschool kids are bound to love to share with their friends and siblings.
Lego Egg Box Maths Activity
For this easy activity, create a grid on a piece of paper with the same amount of squares as there are spaces for eggs. Colour each square the same colour as a block, and help your preschooler to recreate the pattern you've made on the paper.
Build the Number
Write out the numbers 1 to 10 on paper and lay them alongside some blocks. Improve your child's maths skills with this activity, by getting them to build a shape with the number of blocks that is written on the piece of paper.
Create a Castle
Enhance your little one's motor skills with these imaginative play ideas - build a castle to play with using rectangular and cone-shaped blocks (for the turrets). Draw windows on some of the blocks and use toy figures to bring the game to life.
There are loads of cheap and free alternative play ideas if you don't have any blocks at home. If you have a pack of coloured sponges, you can chop them up to create shaped blocks your toddler will love to build with. The added bonus of these is that unlike wooden blocks, sponge blocks are a very quiet activity for that little bit of peace and quiet that all parents need.
Chopstick Lego Challenge
Improve your preschool-age child's motor skills by playing this fun lego game. Fill a bowl with lego, and place sheets of coloured paper that match the blocks outside of the bowl. Using child-friendly chopsticks or plastic tweezers, get your child to pick out blocks of each colour and transfer them to the same colour piece of paper. This block play activity is one of our favourite ideas to develop your toddler's key motor skills.
Kitchen Tong Challenge
If you have bigger blocks and no chopsticks, you can still do similar block play activities with your toddler. Simply replace the chopsticks with plastic kitchen tongs!
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Kidadl provides inspiration for everything from family days out to online classes, arts, crafts and science experiments. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
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