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Benefits of Building

Children & Construction: The Benefits of Play

At an early age, children start building towers from wooden blocks. Some children will progress to larger and more complex structures as they grow. Learning that a tower of blocks may topple without proper support helps children develop valuable spatial skills. Figuring out how pieces of a toy snap together to build a bridge, a house or a car encourages hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Playing with construction toys is crucial to a child’s ever-developing cognitive thinking skills. We asked some experts for their take on children & construction toys. Read their statements below.

The Parent
“As with all play, children who are given the opportunity to discover problems and solve them creatively reap benefits like self-confidence as they develop the executive functioning of their brain.”—Chelsea Duggan, parent & advocate for early childhood development, www.milestarbabies.com

The Doctor
“Playing with construction toys is critical for reading readiness, because they foster the visual-spatial skills that must develop before a child can learn to read. Children who don’t develop these skills at home need to learn them in 1st grade before they can start learning to read.”—Dr. Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, MD, child and adolescent psychiatrist with 33 years clinical experience and special interest in child development, www.stuartbramhall.com

The Toy Store Owner
“In my experience, children benefit from playing with construction toys by improving spatial recognition, creative thinking and even color awareness. With so many different types of construction toys available, the opportunities are almost limitless for what a child can do and build. I always enjoy watching a child build something creative, and then integrate it with other toys to be even more creative with their play. This takes creativity and imagination to a whole new level.”—Tim Holliday, Owner Children’s World, Sarasota, FL

The Educators
“Playing with construction vehicles provides a natural way for children to learn about science and experiment with simple machines, such as inclined planes, pulleys, pendulums, levers and gears. Playing with age-appropriate tools (hammer, nails, screwdrivers and screws) promotes hand-eye coordination and small motor development.  In addition, children who build with construction materials are exploring math concepts such as spatial relationships, shape recognition, measuring and comparing size and length. Teamwork, creativity, perseverance and problem-solving skills can also be enhanced through construction projects.”—Renee Thompson, Director of Education, Kiddie Academy www.kiddieacademy.com

“Construction toys have many benefits for young children. Building with a variety of materials encourages play and early engineering skills. A few benefits include:

  • fine motor skill development
  • pattern making/understanding
  • understanding of cause and effect (build…fall down…)
  • principles of engineering including beams, columns and load
  • impermanence--something that gets built eventually gets taken apart
  • cooperation--if working with peers
  • working with a variety of materials
  • testing and experimentation
  • creativity and design process

As children get older, construction toys can help them understand math and science concepts—making the abstract concrete.”—Dr. Leonisa Ardizzone, former science educator and founder of Storefront Science, www.storefrontscience.com

“The short term benefits of construction toys are:

  • occupying time and making noise (solves a lot of problems kids have being young and inarticulate)
  • learning about gravity and spatial relationships
  • conversation (kids often talk with themselves or at the toys during play if no one else is around)
  • eye-hand coordination
  • fine and gross muscle control
  • creativity (imagination is most of what they construct as the final products rarely look as intended)

The long term benefits of construction toys are all related to the above benefits.  Many children are hand-on learners and enjoy refining the skills needed to perfect construction:  measurement, adjusting tools and products to the specific needs, having confidence to attempt actual construction/repair projects (believing in self and abilities).” —Jennifer Little, Ph.D., pre-K-12 educator for 40 years and founder of Parents Teach Kids, www.parentsteachkids.com