Build & Create
Building play is an important part of early development. This type of play creative, open-ended and presents many
opportunities for planning and problem-solving.
Building play doesn’t have to be blocks or even toys made especially for building. Household items like pieces of foam, bubble wrap, scrap fabric, cut up pool noodles, empty containers and cardboard boxes are all wonderful
mediums for building!
Looking for building play activities that specifically benefit fine motor development? Try one of these ideas:
- Make a toothpick and marshmallow building or sculpture – your child will need to squeeze, poke and hold with their pincer fingers to build a masterpiece.
- Cheerio towers – press a BBQ skewer into a small ball of play dough or clay on a tabletop so that it stands straight up. Offer your child a bowl of cheerios to place on the skewer to build a cheerio “tower”. You can even
make a city of cheerio towers by cutting the skewers into different sizes and making many towers.
- Nuts and bolts – these simple hardware store items are great building items! If you’re handy with tools you can drill a few bolts into a small strip of wood so your child can screw and unscrew nuts and washers onto them. Or you can try painting the nuts different colours to make patterns and designs together.
Using a hammer is a great way for young children to work on bilateral coordination, hand strength, and pincer
Let them try hammering:
- Golf tees into a foam block
- Tacks into a corkboard
- Thick nails or golf tees into a pumpkin or watermelon rind
Brain Training with Blocks
Building with wooden blocks, Duplo or Lego is a great way to build fine motor skills, but did you know that these can
also be used to develop early executive functioning? Executive functioning includes critical skills like sequencing and organizing tasks, working memory and problem-solving. How can blocks do all this? Here are some suggestions.
Plan then do
Before your child starts building ask them to think about what they are going to make. Encourage them to look at the blocks they have and the space available to build in before they start. For example, if they want to build a tower
ask them how high they want it to be and how many blocks they will use. Count out the blocks together before they start building.
Block Copy Cat
Giving your child and example of how and what they can build also helps build planning and sequencing. Start off by simply choosing a particular block and then asking your child to find the matching block. Then you can move on
to building – build a two-block structure and ask your child to copy it exactly. Then move on to three blocks and four… then the sky is the limit! You can challenge your child to make their own structures for you to try and copy too.