Building Toys – The Perks
Guest post written by Carmen Markowski, Discovery Toys Team Leader
If we took a poll of everyone in North American age fifty years and younger, I wonder what percentage of people have played with Lego at some point in their life? I’m going to guess it’s somewhere between 85-95%. I think it’s safe to say, most of us have had some experience with building toys. My own brothers had a huge box of it and I can remember being around nine years old when, my little brother and I would sit for hours creating fantastic structures. It’s pretty easy to see the benefits a building toy can offer a child…fine motor skills, problem solving, creativity, cooperation (especially when you have to share the building pieces!). However, what does that mean in the day-to-day life of a child?
I feel like I understand so much more about the perks of building toys now that I’ve seen my own son go through his early years. Luke had very busy hands as a toddler, so playing with building toys was a great release for him and a good break for me. It meant he wasn’t tearing my house apart! His first building toy was simple wooden blocks. Playing with the blocks meant he had to focus his attention for several minutes in order to complete the task of creating a structure. He was only two years old, but he definitely needed practice in this area! Building blocks were just the beginning to his career as a builder. I found he enjoyed many different building sets from ages 2-5 and spend a good portion of his play time building.
I must admit, I had a concern about Luke during those early years. Although he would sit and color once in awhile, I was hard pressed to get Luke to have an interest in writing words or printing letters. The school teacher side of me imagined my children having lots of experience in writing before entering school and unfortunately this just wasn’t the case for Luke.
Luke surprised me in his kindergarten year. His printing: neat, well-formed letters. Writing did not bring any stress to him because he found it easy! He was good at it and he enjoyed it. Coloring: he pressed hard and worked within the lines. Could it be, he was a natural in these areas? That’s always a possibility. The teacher side of me says, for a child to have some skill in writing and coloring upon entering school, they would have had lots of experience at home with writing and coloring OR doing some other activities which developed the child’s fine motor skills. Well, we know which route Luke took!
So building toys…yes, they develop fine motor skills, offer problem-solving experiences, opportunities for creativity and cooperation. They’ll also help a child focus their attention on an activity for an extended period. And should your preschooler be waiving off the pencils and crayons, it could help them develop the skills they need for printing/writing. A skill they will be expected to develop quickly upon entering our school system. Thank goodness for toys!