Why Montessori Building Blocks and Stacking Stones are Great Educational Toys

Are you looking for ways to engage your child in fun, educational, screen-free play? Are you looking to incorporate Montessori activities and tools into your home? You’re in the right place! In this article, we will explore the benefits of a classic toy - wooden building blocks, often called Montessori stacking stones. From developing cognitive skills to promoting creativity, these toys have a lot to offer. Explore the detailed benefits your child can realize from these toys below!

Key Takeaways:

  • Wooden blocks and stacking stones are great educational toys that promote creativity, fine motor skills, problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination, and social skills
  • To make the most out of these toys, use them as educational tools for sorting and grouping, counting and measurement, building and construction, and role-playing and storytelling
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What Skills Do Building Blocks Teach?

Wooden blocks and stacking stones are considered excellent educational toys because they foster a wide range of fine motor and social skills. Wooden blocks have been utilized in education since the early 19th century, when Friedrich Fröbel, founder of the first kindergarten, created building bricks to use in his classrooms. It may be difficult to imagine now, but at that time the concept of “indoor play” didn’t really exist, so these first blocks were a new concept to help children develop skills in a controlled setting. Today, building blocks continue to be popular as they deliver many benefits to children that play with them:

Develops Fine Motor Skills

Building blocks are one of the ultimate toys for developing fine motor skills – babies and children at every development stage can practice important skills with blocks and stacking stones. For example:

  • Babies practice different early grasp patterns, such as Palmar grasps and Pincer grasps
  • Toddlers practice hand-eye coordination through activities like stacking stones and wooden block construction
  • Toddlers can also practice fine movement skills are cultivated by carefully aligning and balancing the blocks and stones
  • Small children practice their spatial awareness as they build more complex shapes and structures, and arranging blocks to form letters is a common pre-literacy activity in Montessori preschools
  • Infants and children at every age are practicing their concentration when they play with building blocks

Introduces Basic Math Concepts

Children begin thinking about math when they are playing with blocks, even if they don't know it!

  • Counting: Wooden blocks and stacking stones can be used to teach counting by physically manipulating and moving the objects while counting them. Combining a physical activity with counting as been shown to help children better understand counting and numbers
  • Measurement: These toys can introduce basic measurement concepts by comparing the sizes and shapes of the blocks and stones.
  • Try it out! When playing with your child, ask how many red blocks there are, or how many blocks are in their tower

Enhances Problem-Solving Skills

Wooden blocks and stacking stones encourage reasoning skills. Toddlers and children quickly learn that towers placed on a slope can’t stand, or blocks placed without precision may make their structure wobbly, and can make adjustments accordingly. Make sure to encourage experimentation with the blocks, even if that means there's a few extra topples. 

Try it out! When playing with your child, ask questions that help your child think about cause-and-effect. “Wow, your tower is getting so tall! Do you think adding a big block at the top will make it more or less wobbly?".

Fosters Social Skills

Wooden blocks and stacking stones are great toys for either individual or group play. In group play, they can encourage teamwork, communication, and cooperation. When children engage in building structures together, they learn to share, take turns, and collaborate, fostering important social skills. Additionally, playing with these toys in a group setting creates opportunities for children to interact, negotiate, and develop empathy, laying the foundation for healthy social interactions.

Try it out! Break out the building blocks or stacking stones during a playdate when your child can play with other children at a similar age

Encourages Creativity and Imagination

Wooden blocks and stacking stones are exceptional educational toys that foster creativity and imagination in children. As early as toddlerhood, building block play can provide opportunities for role play and storytelling, as block structures turn into homes for other toys, or stones turn into characters themselves.

Try it out! When playing with your child, ask questions about their blocks or the structure they’re that help them expand their imaginations. You may be surprised by the answers you get!

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Common Educational Activities with Montessori Building Blocks

Activities for Fine Motor Skills and Early Math Skills

  • Grasping & Placing: Place stones in a baby’s hand or within easy reach and demonstrate picking up and moving blocks from one place to another. This is the perfect infancy activity to get your child familiar with building blocks and practicing their grasp patterns.
  • Building & Stacking: Demonstrate the ability to stack stones with your infant or toddler - perfect for developing early spatial awareness, problem-solving, and fine motor skills.
  • Sorting & Grouping: Show toddlers how to recognize similarities and sort into different groups. Great for fine motor skills and recognizing sizes, shapes, and colors.
  • Counting: Utilize wooden blocks and stacking stones to teach children basic counting skills. You can even combine this activity with other skills – like seeing how large a tower you can build in a minute!
  • Measurement: Use the toys to introduce measurement concepts. Show how different blocks or stones have varying sizes and demonstrate simple measuring activities using these objects, such as asking children how many blocks long their arm forearm is

Activities for Social Skills and Pre-Literacy Skills

  • Role Playing & Storytelling: provide an open-ended question or statement about the blocks, such as “What adventure are the stacking stones going to go on today?” helps children creative narratives and enact various roles with the blocks or structures they’re created. Ask them questions about the characters or scenarios they describe to help them flesh out ideas and articulate emotions
  • Social Skills: using building blocks during group play to encourage children to practice sharing, collaboration, kindly articulating what they want
  • Pre-Literacy Skills: For children heading to preschool soon, using blocks to form letters is a great pre-literacy activity to help children become more familiar with letters while engaging in play

The Bottom Line

  • Montessori building blocks and stacking stones have numerous benefits for child development, including developing fine motor skills, spatial reasoning, social, and even pre-literacy skills
  • Building block play provides a screen-free way for children to experiment and use their imagination, and provide developmental benefits from infancy all the way to school-age