There are many toys to choose from to entertain and stimulate your growing baby. Electronic lights and sounds, talking dolls, music. There are plenty of fancy choices which can provide you and your baby with hours of fun. Sometimes, however, it’s the simple toys that can also give your baby the developmental stimulation that is so crucial in the early years.
Old-fashioned wooden blocks are classic toys that provide Bright Start developmental play skills in two specific areas – fine motor skills and language skills. Furthermore, blocks are a perfect toy for TogetherPlay with baby as you “show baby how” to manipulate the blocks in a variety of ways. Here are the many ways you and baby can enjoy many block parties together:
Grasping skills. Around 6 months of age baby becomes skilled at the full-handed grasp. Baby will be eager to reach out for anything that you place within reach. Blocks are perfect for this because they also give baby a solid teething toy to sink his gums into and enhance hand-mouth coordination. Once baby learns to sit up, surround him with several blocks to allow baby to practice decision-making as he chooses which blocks to pick up in turn.
Block music. Show your baby how to bang blocks together to make music. Learning to clap or bang to a rhythm is the first step in learning musical skills. Use them for pat-a-cake and other favorite sing-a-longs.
Building blocks. During the second year baby becomes skilled at stacking blocks. Sit in front of baby and show her how it’s done. Stack two blocks on a firm surface and baby will learn to mimic you. As baby grows, she will be able to build her towers higher and higher. Knocking them down is just as fun.
Picture recognition. Teach baby to point out his favorite pictures on the blocks. Play “find the hat” (and other favorite pictures) by hiding them face down and letting your child pick up each block and turn it over and over.
Counting blocks. During the second year baby will learn to understand counting. Give baby one block, then emphasize the concept of “two” as baby picks up another. Baby will soon answer you when you ask how many he has. As baby goes through the toddler years, count the blocks as you stack them and your child will be excited to reach towers of five or eight blocks and more. Your young preschooler will begin to recognize his numbers. Line the blocks up in number order and count together.
Letters. Your preschooler will begin to learn to recognize letters. Blocks are a perfect way for you to practice the alphabet with your child. Sing the alphabet song slowly together and have your child try to find each letter in order.
Together Play. The key to block parties is togetherness. Play time is far more rewarding when it’s done in an interactive way that brings you and your child closer and builds fun memories for both of you.