How Does Block Play Help with Physical Development?

How Does Block Play Help with Physical Development?

As parents, we are often searching for toys and activities that will keep our children entertained whilst providing them educational benefits. Finding toys that are both fun and safe for young children to improve their physical development can be difficult. The Early Teacher is here to talk about all things block play related including how block play can improve physical development.

So, how does block play help with physical development? Block play provides the opportunity for children to discover how to hold, carry, pull and stack blocks to create shapes and structures from their imaginations, but in a safe environment. This improves their physical abilities in terms of hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness of shapes and sizes.

Keep reading to find out more the skills that playing with blocks can improve as well as the 7 stages of block play development so you know what to expect from your child.

How Does Block Play Improve Physical Development?

Block play may seem as though it is a very simple way to keep your children entertained but it is actually a great tool encouraging physical development in your children too. Reports show that block play is particularly effective at improving both spatial awareness and the understanding of different shapes and objects in young children. Through interactions and encouragement from their parents, children were found to develop an increased understanding of their ability to hold and play with the blocks.

What’s more, through engaging with block play children begin to develop the ability to hold a tight enough grip to lift something without dropping it. This is a skill that will be applied in all aspects of their life as they grow up, and is important for their development through school. For example, without developing the ability to hold a tight grip, children would struggle to drink out of a cup, play a board game, or even use a pencil.

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In addition to this, children begin to develop an understanding of how to stack blocks, which is when their physical development becomes more complex. Stacking blocks involves refined physical development, in order to be specific in where they place the blocks. Too far off the edge and the blocks will fall down, therefore children have to use trial and error to learn how to place the blocks in the correct place for them to balance successfully.

These are all vital aspects of child development because they can be applied to activities that support a child's progression through school and into independent young adults. Therefore playing with blocks is a lot more important than you may have originally thought.

What Other Skills Does Playing with Blocks Develop?

Playing with blocks improves an array of skills that are useful to children’s progression, alongside physical development. Utilising toys that develop multiple skills at once is a great investment for your children. We have detailed the main skills that playing with blocks can develop, below.

Social Skills Studies show that block play can act as a learning material that supports children in engaging in cooperative play. When children block play together they learn how to communicate effectively, share, and navigate social situations when they want to take charge. For example, even discussing which block to use next is a great way of improving social skills and negotiations between children.

Problem Solving Skills Studies show that there is a 31.58% connection between block play and mathematical problem solving. By playing with blocks and learning how they will or won’t fit together, children are stimulating their brains and developing problem solving skills on a very basic level. Once this skill is developed at a young age, it gives children an advantage when it comes to more complex problem solving activities that often take place in maths lessons.

Creativity Skills Playing with blocks is also a great tool for encouraging the development of creativity skills. From trial and error, to making patterns with the colour combinations of blocks, or even just making a different shaped structure each time; building with blocks is ideal for stimulating the creativity in your children. Creativity is a skill that is used in all aspects of life therefore, to develop it at a young age is a real benefit.

Resilience Block play is also a very good way of improving your child’s resilience. Often when building with blocks, structures get wobbly and fall down, which can be upsetting or disappointing for children. Due to this being quite common in block play, children are exposed to the realities of things not working out first time. As a result, they learn to cope with these emotions and overcome them to try again. This resilience is a skill that can be applied to all stages of life so learning it so young is good for any child’s development.

If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of block play, take a look at our recent blog by clicking here.

What are the 7 Stages of Block Play?

Although block play may seem to be an experimental form of play based off of improvisation, there is actually some structure to it. Unintentionally, your children will follow certain steps in their block play development as they gain more confidence, cognitive ability and physical development. Below are the 7 stages of block play so you know what to expect from your children.

Carrying, Discovering and Rebuilding:

The first stage of block play involves children exploring what a block is and what they can do with it. Often toddlers will just sit around passing a block from one hand to another as they learn to be capable and comfortable with holding it in their hands. Other children may shake the blocks, and put them in their mouths. This stage is all about the children learning about the texture, weight and abilities of the blocks.

Stacking and Repetition:

The second stage of block play is all about building. At this point your child will have developed enough physically to comfortably hold the blocks so they will begin to explore what happens if they lay multiple blocks in rows together. Using their physical development skills to neatly organise them in rows may then lead to them attempting to stack one on top of another. This stage is still very experimental as the children build the confidence and physical skills to build a tower.

Building Bridges:

Once children have mastered the art of tower building through hours of trial and error, they will begin to develop further in terms of creativity by attempting to build bridges. Now that children have developed the physical ability to be precise in their placement of blocks, they can then begin to make bridges. By carefully placing blocks a certain distance apart, children will learn that they can balance blocks on top to create bridges. This is a more advanced level of physical ability, but is still one that children can achieve over time.


As children become more confident with their physical skills to create bridges, they will then begin to make buildings that link to these bridges. By using their advanced physical skills such as balancing, moving, sliding and stacking blocks, children will develop clusters of structures that may take up spaces in your homes. Often they will use their physical skills to incorporate the environment around them. For example, building bridges from the coffee table in your lounge area, may seem very exciting for your children because it blurs the lines between their imagination and reality.

Symmetry and Pattern Making:

When children get to stage 5 of block play they will begin to become extremely detailed with the order in which they stack and arrange their blocks. Often, children will use their developed physical skills to stack blocks of different shapes and sizes, by identifying certain angles of which they will balance. What’s more, you may even notice that you children use colour coding or symmetry within their block structures to make it more visually appealing during playtimes.

Building and Naming:

At this stage, your child’s physical abilities with blocks should be refined to a level where they feel quite confident. As a result, they may choose to be more thorough and intricate with their block building, and create detailed structures. It may be that these structures actually require planning from your child, and receive a specific name based on their functions too.

Complex Buildings:

The final stage of block play is when your child’s dexterity and physical abilities have been developed to a point where they can begin to create curved structures. What’s more they will begin to replicate buildings that exist in their day to day lives such as their school or the local supermarket. They will also begin to engage in symbolic play whereby certain blocks represent vehicles such as helicopters or boats.

Overall, the 7 stages of block play lead to a child who has an array of physical abilities. These skills can be transferred to all aspects of their school lives from holding a handwriting pen, to drinking out of a cup.

Building Block Toys at The Early Teacher

The Early Teacher stocks a variety of building block toys that are ideal for helping children with physical development as well as other key skills such as problem solving and resilience. The Early Teacher can support you in choosing an appropriate toy to aid your child's physical development through block play.

For more information on the toys available for block play activities click here.