There are times that my husband and I joke that the real reason for having kids is so that we have an excuse to play with toys like building blocks again.
Even if it isn’t the real reason, playing with toys has proven to be a big perk. Especially where using building blocks with our children is concerned.
I attended a child’s birthday party earlier this year and became involved in a discussion about Legos. Another parent mentioned to me that they felt they were buying new sets left and right. Apparently, their child builds the goal structures quickly and then, “needs something else to build,” so they venture to out to find another set.
When it comes to parenting, I’m all for the ‘you do you and don’t pay attention to what other people think’ mentality. However, having dedicated much of my professional career to serving the early childhood population, this person’s response prompted me to discuss all the creative potential blocks have. Creativity is an important skill that becomes a stepping stone to the development of higher-level cognitive skills and critical thinking.
Building blocks are an amazing tool to develop creativity.
My children own lots of block sets: Legos, Lego Duplos, bristle blocks, blocks my husband cut from scraps of wood, Megabloks, and Magformers, to name a few. At playgroups, they have played with Lincoln Logs, Melissa and Doug cardboard blocks, wooden blocks, and the list goes on.
My husband is terrific with building blocks. He has the engineer brain that I lack. He can see a structure in his head and then build it. I marvel at the things he builds with our kids. My skills pale in comparison to his in this department. I use a lot of trial and error when it comes to building with blocks. My structures are nowhere near as detailed and intricate as his. He also builds things I would never even think of.
We have successfully attempted to teach our kids that it is great to use building blocks to create a target structure from an instruction booklet but, after that is complete, you can definitely use the blocks for other purposes. My son has undoubtedly inherited his father’s knack for building and amazes me with his creations.
I am pretty sure we could fill an album with pictures of all the funky things my family has made with blocks. However, I wanted to share just a few things my husband and children have built with blocks. I’m hoping you’re entertained and inspired by their imaginations!
1) The Tallest Towers You Can Possibly Make Indoors
These frequently went up to our ceiling! You would have thought a seven-foot-tall person lived in my house, but that is not the case. My son would use the step stool to add blocks to the top of the tower until he couldn’t reach anymore. Then, he’d hand my husband blocks to put on the top until even he needed the stool. I never knew quite how they would manage to build such high towers with such a variety of blocks. My hand was never steady enough to add blocks so the tower could make it all the way to the ceiling. However, the pictures speak for themselves.
2) A Jet Pack for Piglet (seen above)
Because, of course, why doesn’t Piglet need a jetpack? In the cartoons, he is always needing to be rescued, after all! With a simple jetpack made out of bristle blocks, Piglet is able to keep himself safe and maybe even rescue Pooh.
This is one of my favorite creations. I do not even remember what prompted it, but my husband pulled it off and he and my son had fun with it for an entire evening.
3) Tunnels for Train Tracks
Who says you can only use the wooden tunnels in the wooden train track sets? We use Legos, Duplos, and Magformers to make colorful tunnels!
4) A Predator Drone
My husband may have a slight obsession with things that fly. I’ll let you decide. At least my kids will develop a much larger vocabulary than I have thanks to these types of creations. I had no idea what a predator drone was prior to him constructing this.
5) A Giraffe
When your son comes to you with a Lego creation and says, “Mom, look! I made a giraffe!” You take a billion pictures. The early educator in me has never been prouder.
6) A Classroom
My son built this all by himself only three weeks after finishing preschool. We were in the weird summer limbo where he was glad to be spending time at home with us, yet missing school. I truly think this is one of the ways he coped with the changes. He proceeded to play with the classroom for days, moving Lego people all around the room. At the end of the day, he asked me to tuck it high up on a shelf so it would stay intact and safe. In a way, I feel it helped fill a void during this transitional period.
7) A Vehicle Train
You can make a train with anything, you just need to attach pieces together.
8) A Yield Sign
My son needed to bring something that started with the letter ‘y’ to school. I thought we had a toy yield sign in a bucket of one of our many sets of building blocks. After being unsuccessful in my attempts to find this street sign, my husband and son started building this before my eyes. It has been over four months since it was built, but most of it is currently still intact. Personally, I just cannot bear to take apart all that hard work.
9) A Paper Towel Roll Tower
I know I said I was going to focus on types of building blocks, but who says random objects cannot be blocks? One time, when my son was two, my husband cleared out the bathroom closet so he could work on a pipe. While we were in the bathroom being busy homeowners, my son went to town and built a tower using the paper towel rolls (that were still individually wrapped). It amazed and impressed me that he decided to do this on his own at that age.
10) Just playing pretend!
Blocks are great for building, but it isn’t always necessary to have a structure as a final product. My children have been talking into bristle blocks as if they are phones for the last few months. They made soup out of Legos. There is no limit to their imagination when it comes to abstract play with blocks.
11) Bonus Structure: A stove
My son made this with a little help from his sister. How cool is this? The idea was all their own. We do have a kitchen set but apparently didn’t need one to cook this pot of ‘soup.’
As our children have grown older, they have been more attracted to block sets such as the ones Lego puts out. Our son can build those sets with ease and yes, we have bought him a set of building blocks here or there for his birthday or for Christmas. However, when he is done and feels like taking it apart, or if his little sister does it first, we encourage him to use his imagination.
We encourage flexibility.
If he wants to rebuild the goal structure, that is okay. But we don’t make a big deal out of it if he doesn’t want to. We are perfectly fine with him mixing the pieces in with all of the other blocks of the same type.
So don’t hesitate to build Piglet a jetpack. You never know when he might need one.