Lesson of the Day 10
Blocks, Bricks and Cubes
Blocks were one of the first toys I introduced to my babies. I received some soft, home sewn, cube blocks from a friend. They were the best! The blocks were made from soft material filled with soft stuffing. Just holding the soft cube is exciting for a baby who can grasp objects. Baby's first blocks were the same size. A young toddler can stack 2 of these soft blocks very easily. Slowly put one block on top of the other. Your toddler will copy you and do the same. They will be entertained by this for a long time. This activity will help children develop a long attention span and concentration.
If your infant sits up, it is not too early for them to hold and feel one of these soft blocks. Later, I introduced another block for them to hold. When it was apparent my children could stack objects. I would show them how to stack 2 blocks. I gradually added one more block until they could stack three blocks. The stacking activity really grabbed their attention.
Make these blocks from washed cotton material. Recycled material, such as denim jeans, work well.
Here is a pattern to make your baby's first block set. You can choose the size or sizes you would like to sew.
Cut six squares to make the cube, each block has 6 sides. Wrong sides together, sew them together forming a cube. Leave about a two inch opening at the last square. Turn out the block through the two inch opening to show the right sides of the material. Your block just needs to be filled and hand sewn to finish it. Fill with stuffing of your choice, cut up nylon stockings work well. Hand sew the opening.
Your baby and toddlers will love these soft cuddly blocks! These make great baby gifts too.
Make various sizes for older preschool children to sort by size. I've made various sizes from pink felt material. They turned out great.
Small Wooden Cube Blocks
I would introduce small cube blocks next. The blocks had belonged to grandma. It is amazing how long they last. They had upper case letters with an object that started with that letter on the other side. Just make sure any toys you use are lead free and toxic free. Holding and stacking the smaller blocks helps refine grasp and coordination.
The pink tower is usually introduced after the stacking activities. You can purchase 10 nesting blocks if you don't have access to the pink tower. Use the nesting blocks two ways. First, you can show how to stack them and lastly, your child can nest them together. The nesting exercise helps show size, volume and shape in another way.
The sets of architectural blocks that have different sizes and shapes are great for conceptual learning. For example, two triangles make a square, two square blocks make a rectangle-just basic geometry. The basic concepts of gravity, balance, and design are a part of making block structures. Blocks are toys your children can use throughout elementary school.
Here are some ideas for block play.
- Have your child make the buildings as high as his or her ankle, knee, hips, elbows, waist, shoulder and head. This helps measure distance in proportion to your child's body as well as teaching parts of the body.
- Ask your child how many different shapes he or she can make from the blocks. You may have to first introduce to them how to make a cube, square from 2 triangles, and 2 half circles make a whole circle-the list can go on and on.
- Using a tape measure or yard/meter stick, let your child measure the dimensions of his or her building. Which side is longer? Which side is shorter? How tall is the building? How wide? How long?
- Block play is a great lesson for visual perception, kinetic learning, and the beginning concepts of geometry.
- Teach names for concepts such as on top, beside, behind, underneath, next to, above and below, square, triangle, rectangle, cube, cylinder and circle.
- Measure items with blocks
- Measure with the block measuring printout. Use the larger blocks if your child is just beginning to understand counting. Printout several. Cut out either the large or small blocks and tape together your "measuring tape." You can add onto this as your child learns to count higher quantities. The printout is at the bottom of the page.
- Less than, more (greater) than and the same as (equal to) advanced math game-Use the 3 period lesson to introduce the symbols and use blocks to make equations using these symbols. You can make the symbols on cards or print them out (see bottom of page for reading cards.)
- Here is how you would lay the blocks and symbol on a table or rug
   >  3 blocks are greater than 2 blocks
   =   3 blocks equal 3 blocksand finally, 2 blocks are less than 3 blocks. You can use these symbols for other objects in your home or classroom.
Introduce concepts 3 dimensional geometric shapes. Helps with math, counting, differences between less, more or the same, shapes and size.
- Cloth Cube Pattern
- Block Measuring Printout
- Plural/Singular and Less Than/Greater Than Reading Cards
- Use three period lesson to introduce new words and concepts
- Pink Tower
- Pink Tower Printout Small to Big
- Pink Tower Counting Printout
- Make 3 part cards