How Block Play Benefits Children’s Learning (Part 1 - Stages of Block Play)

How Block Play Benefits Children’s Learning (Part 1 - Stages of Block Play)

by Tina Bambury, Early Childhood & Parenting Educator, Managing Director at P.L.A.Y. with a Purpose

Blocks support children to think, to plan, to experiment and explore how things work, the support foundations need, as well as their social, emotional and problem solving skills.

Do you remember playing with blocks? Have you ever built a tower? Remember, how it felt when you finished making your building? Or have you watched the sense of triumph on a child’s face when they show you their building creations?

Let’s explore the wonder of block play development and its benefits in this two part blog post about the brilliance of block building.

Did you know there was seven stages of block play?

They usually follow developmental stages and children progress in their own time regardless of their age.

Stage One: Have you ever noticed a child picking up blocks and carrying them around in a wagon, basket or bag? These children are in stage one of block building play development.

Stage Two: Children in stage two often will construct rows and towers and are usually around the age of 2-4 years. Join them in their play and they usually have fun knocking down the towers! Vary your position from sitting to laying on your tummy with them and building as this helps and supports regulation for both of you! To find out more about tummy time visit our other blogs on our website at

Stage Three: If you notice your child placing a block in a position where it balances from one tower to another, like a bridge they have reached bridging or complex functional building block play.

Stage Four: Making enclosures is the next stage of block play. These enclosure structures include farms, zoos, houses, race tracks, all built by your child’s imagination and fine (small muscles - fingers) and gross motor (large muscle groups - arms) skills! Any of the buildings they will make with their blocks will usually relate to their interests, whether they are fleeting or intense passions!

Stage Five: Pattern making is a wonder of colour, symmetry and balance pulled together beautifully by your child as they discover and experiment with the blocks in this developmental stage.

Stage Six: Stage six encompasses construction that involves fantasy and includes naming the construction as a symbol of their thought or interest. E.g. House, Tower, Fire Engine, Rocket, Spaceship, Car. The naming process occurs when the masterpiece is complete!

Stage Seven: The pièce de résistance is when children are explaining and detailing what they will be constructing and talking you through their plans.

... to be continued (Part 2 - a Case Study using Magformers).