The Benefits of Construction Play
Spring usually offers warmer, sunnier weather, perfect for time in nature and outdoor play. However, spring also gives us much needed rain, and after this weekend stuck inside, we wanted to highlight one of our favorite indoor options for learning and fun: construction play!
With construction toys ranging from simple building blocks to more complex sets that allow for the creation of intricate structures, construction play is great for a variety of ages, abilities, and budgets. At The Potato House, we have a variety of building toys, including wooden blocks, large foam yoga blocks, Magnatiles, and a balancing tower. The best part?! While they may seem like simple items, construction toys have been shown to offer numerous benefits for children's learning and communication.
One of the primary benefits of construction play toys is that they encourage creativity, imagination, and problem-solving. When children are given the opportunity to build and create using their own ideas, they utilize skills in critical thinking, spatial reasoning, and planning ahead. This type of play also allows children to experiment with different materials, colors, and shapes, which, for younger learners, can serve as an opportunity to target vocabulary concepts and compare/contrast activities. In addition to descriptive vocabulary for colors and shapes, prepositions and basic concepts can also be targeted. While building, consider narrating your own thoughts as you try adding pieces “above/below” “next to” “between'' or “under” your structure. Ask your child to hand you the “smallest” block or “the block next to the green one.”
Construction play toys can also support communication and pragmatic skills. When children play with construction toys with siblings or peers, they are naturally prompted to communicate their own ideas to others in the group while working together to achieve a common goal. Collaboration, perspective-taking, negotiation, and compromise are also potential areas for skill building, both through experiential learning and through adult modeling/narration where appropriate. Additionally, group play may help learners build confidence in delegation and leadership roles.
As a bonus, though not communication-related, construction play can support the development of fine motor skills. As children manipulate the small pieces and parts of the construction toys, they are building strength and dexterity in their hands and fingers. This can positively impact handwriting, typing, and other fine motor tasks.
In general, construction play toys offer a wide range of benefits for children's learning and development. They encourage a variety of skills across communication and learning domains, and they’re fun both alone and in a group! We suggest supporting this type of play at home by providing a variety of construction toys, encouraging your child to explore and experiment with different, increasingly challenging materials and designs, and modeling of positive communication.
If you’d like to see how we incorporate construction play toys into therapy sessions, we welcome you to join your child’s session or keep the conversation going via email or during one of our complimentary monthly check-in calls! If there is anything we can do to further support your child, we welcome your ideas and questions. We hope your month ahead is filled with lego builds, spring warmth, and continued growth in learning, self-expression, and communication.