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When I Play: Blocks

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At Vivvi, we believe children learn best through play; it’s how they make sense of the world. Every playtime activity—even the most seemingly small—has a much larger learning or developmental benefit. Our new Vivvi series: “When I Play” will help parents understand the greater purpose behind their children’s play, and help you get in on the action… even if you’re a playtime novice. 

When I play with blocks….

A set of wooden blocks may be the most ubiquitous of childhood toys. Blocks don’t require batteries or connect to wifi; they’re the most classic of classic toys – and for good reason. 

Blocks are simple in design, but incredibly complex in terms of all the learning young children are doing when they have them in their hands. When your child plays with blocks, they’re building skills that will be the cornerstone of independence, creativity and education throughout their lives.

Block play is an integral part of childhood exploration. From counting and sorting to an early understanding of spatial awareness and physics (!!), so much is going on below the surface during block play.

…this is what I’m learning.

Equipping your child with a set of blocks literally gives them the building blocks to integral milestone learning. Fine motor skills aside, when your child plays with blocks – whether they’re stacking, sorting or just knocking down – they are learning the fundamentals of some pretty big concepts. 

When your child plays with blocks they are learning:

  • hand-eye coordination
  • recognizing different sizes and shapes; sorting and matching
  • the basics of physics and spatial awareness through stacking and balancing, gravity, stability, and height
  • problem solving and logical consequences
  • early understanding of math; addition and subtraction
  • critical thinking to create and execute plans
  • how to make choices and decisions
  • social skills appropriate for group play

“Blocks are one of those toys that withstand the test of time – from soft blocks in infancy to intricate lego creations in older childhood,” says Rachel Duda, VP of Learning at Vivvi. “Blocks are open-ended and allow children to be engineers, artists, builders, mathematicians, problem solvers and storytellers! Parents can guide and scaffold block building by asking open-ended questions.”

Block Play Activities by Age

Little kids were playing (and learning!) from blocks long before us parents started talking about play-based learning at brunch. 

For parents who are playtime beginners, simply hand your child a set of blocks and see where the magic takes them! But if you want to dig deeper into the learning and developmental benefits of play-based learning, try providing your child with specific learning opportunities through fun, age-appropriate activities with blocks.


  • For little babies, block play is mostly block exploration.
  • By two- to three-months old, your infant should be able to hold a block in their hand. They will soon start waving it around and looking at it from all angles. That’s playing!
  • By three to four months, your child will be trying to put a block in their mouth, so make sure your first set of blocks is gum-friendly.
  • From 6-12 months, your child will enjoy reaching for blocks that are placed in their proximity, carrying blocks around the room, and passing blocks from one hand to another.
  • Practicing object permanence: if you want to blow your infant’s mind, try hiding a block under a dish towel and then bringing it back! This is the age where your child is starting to develop object permanence – activities like this help them learn things exist even when they don’t see them.

1-2 years

  • At this stage, your child will begin to use blocks to build towers – and knock them over.
  • Knocking over towers is educational, too! Your child is gaining a basic understanding of cause and effect, and starting to understand gravity.
  • Your toddler is beginning to understand patterns and sorting now, and will enjoy sorting blocks by color or shape.
  • Model block play. Create a simple three-block color pattern or a basic stair shape for your child to copy with their blocks.
  • Add containers! Your child will enjoy sorting and filling muffin tins or small cups with blocks.

3-4 years

  • In the preschool years, concepts explored during block play get a little more complicated. Critical thinking, problem solving and communication begin to take center stage.
  • Kick-start your child’s critical thinking by encouraging them to make a plan before they build. Ask your child “How many blocks can you stack before the tower falls over? 5? 10? Let’s find out!”
  • Try building a bridge. Does it keep falling over? Why? Ask your child why they think the bridge keeps falling over and what you might be able to do differently to keep it up. That’s problem solving in action.
  • Block play with classmates helps your child learn to take turns, share and operate as a group. Cooperative block play helps your child develop new friendships, learn to work with others, and even boosts their self-esteem.

Shop Vivvi’s Favorite Blocks

For even more block-spiration, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite shoppable blocks online. The options really run the gamut, you can go super simple with a set of pine blocks by Melissa & Doug or opt for a more boutique style with artisan Etsy options. For tiny babies who want to be part of the fun, a soft rubber set may be the best to start out with.

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