Headstart for Life

Getting the most out of your toys: Part 1

Posted on Monday, February 13, 2017 by 2 minutes

Hello everyone! Welcome to our new series on getting the most out of your toys!

Often, parents have told me that they don’t really know how to use the toys at home to play in a variety of ways. In this age where we have a multitude of toy stores selling a huge selection of toys, it is so easy to walk into a store and simply purchase new toys when children get bored of their toys. This results in a home filled with many toys, some of which will hardly be used after a short while. My aim is not to discourage parents from buying new toys, but rather to show that there are some toys which can be enjoyed for many years and used to facilitate the development of many skills as your children grow up. You can even combine the old and new toys to create new ways to play!

In today’s post, we will look at an evergreen toy. Usually made of wood and rectangular in shape, these are none other than blocks!

Here are some ways to use blocks in different types of play!

For the toddlers

Sorting

How to play?

Do you have blocks of different shapes, sizes or colours? Let your toddler sort them according to different categories!

This can help to develop…

  • Concentration
  • Cognitive skills
  • Language skills

 

Counting

How to play?

Stack up the blocks, count the blocks in order (from 1 to ….), then have fun knocking the entire tower down!

This can help to develop…

  • Counting skills
  • Motor skills

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Matching

How to play?

Trace the outline of different block shapes on to paper. Ask your toddler to match the blocks with the outlines!

This can help to develop…

  • Cognitive skills

For the preschool children

Tower contest

How to play?

Decide if you are playing as individuals or as part of a team. Set a timer and stack up as many blocks as possible within the time limit! Person or team with the tallest tower wins!

This can help to develop…

  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Motor skills
  • Patience/Persistence

 

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Building structures

How to play?

Build a house, a skyscraper, a tunnel for a train. Combine with toy people, vehicles, animals, plants for pretend play. Don’t limit your creativity!

This can help to develop…

  • Creativity
  • Motor skills
  • Pretend play skills

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Symbolic play

How to play?

Need a zoo but don’t have fences? Use blocks as enclosures and a gate! Need to “call” for an ambulance but don’t have a phone? Hold up a block to your ear! Need a car to transport toy people around? Place a block on the floor and the car is ready! Not enough beds in the dollhouse? Use a block (or many blocks if you need a big bed)! The possibilities are endless.

This can help to develop…

  • Creativity
  • Pretend play skills

For the older children

Jenga

How to play?

Most of us will be familiar with the rules of this game. Stack up the blocks into a tower and take turns to remove a block. Person who makes the tower fall loses the game!

You can change the rules slightly so children learn that there are many ways to play the same game (e.g. do you place the block that was removed back on the top of the tower? can you remove any block or just the blocks at the sides of each level? do you play as an individual player or as part of a team?). What is important is that everyone will need to follow the rules that are set before the start of the game.

This can help to develop…

  • Ability to follow the rules of a game
  • Turn-taking skills
  • Motor skills
  • Ability to accept losing and try again

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Dominoes

How to play?

Line up the blocks and knock down the first block to create a cascading effect. Be as creative as you want to be during the set up! Create curvy lines and straight lines, include obstacles along the way. It is all up to your imagination! Involve a few people to create projects more quickly!

This can help to develop…

  • Patience
  • Creativity
  • Ability to work together as part of a team
  • Motor skills

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“Tangrams”

How to play?

Place a few blocks together to form a picture (e.g. an animal or vehicle). Trace the outline of the entire picture and let your child figure out how the various pieces can fit into the outline. You can modify this by creating simpler pictures/patterns for preschool children.

This can help to develop…

  • Problem solving skills

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These are just some ideas on how we can play with blocks to suit the different age groups. Do you have any more ideas? Leave them in the comments below!

"All the information on this site is for educational purposes only and does not replace the assessment and intervention of a registered speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist or any other medical or education professional."

About Jia Yue

Jia Yue has a keen interest in working with children with special needs, particularly autism spectrum disorders, whose difficulties may include the areas of speech, language, and social skills. She has been working with children with special needs for 2 years and loves to browse through toy stores for new therapy ideas in her free time.

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