Block Play

June 6, 2012

Block Play

I am a huge fan of block building for children (+ grown-ups). I love the open-ended play, trial and error, problem-solving, collaboration, and inevitable dose of imagination that comes along with the territory. There are also a lot of fun literary connections that can be made to take the experience further. I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorites.

Block Building Recommendations…

  1. Balancing Blocks by Fort Standard
  2. 13 Buildings Children Should Know by Annette Roeder
  3. Kapla Blocks
  4. City by David Macaulay
  5. Roman Arch by Haba
  6. How a House is Built by Gail Gibbons
  7. MultiBlocks
  8. Standard Unit Blocks
  9. Tegu Magnetic Blocks
  10. Architecture Shapes by Michael J. Crosbie

Block Data…

Block Inspiration…

Mariah Bruehl is a parent, educator, and author of the book Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder (Shambhala Publications, 2011). In 2008 Mariah brought her expertise online, creating the Parents’ Choice Gold Medal award-winning Web site Playful Learning. In 2011 she launched the Playful Learning Ecademy, which takes virtual-learning experiences to a new level by incorporating the best practices in education with engaging hands-on lessons, bringing parents and children together from all over the world into a unique, creative, community environment.


  1. Sarah M said on June 6, 2012 #

    Excellent list and video. Our local Children’s Museum, just had their travelling exhibit (different every 2-3 months) as an entire room of Kapla blocks. I think my kiddos were a little too small for it (4 & 3) but it was absolutely incredible to see the structures they had built with them! 
    We have the Melissa & Doug set up above, too. We also have a regular wooden ‘abc’ set. Both get used a lot in our house. I think *every* family should have a standard set of blocks.
    Sarah M

    • mariah said on June 6, 2012 #

      Thanks Sarah! I would have LOVED to see the Kapla room! We have being loving our Kaplas lately :-)

  2. Kayte said on June 6, 2012 #

    Great post! 

    We have big bucket of Kapla blocks in our living room- and they are completely irresistible to adults. Not one adult is able to sit near them and not picked up at least a few.  I adore the idea of pairing them with books showcasing architecture. 
    My dad has a game called Blockhead from when he was a child. He played with friends, I played it as a child and recently on a trip to his house we introduced it to my 6 year old. We played countless rounds. I am usually not a fan of using competition to accelerate a skill, but it pushed my daughter to combine and challenge her balancing abilities. And as a result, I saw my daughter’s block play shift after we returned home. She starting combining different types of blocks together and added in spools and tubes from our loose parts bucket. She even wanted wood glue to attach a few pieces together to form new shaped pieces. I find it amazing how just the right bit of inspiration can create a whole new avenue of play. 

    I will definitely be offering some architecture books when we exhaust our ‘Blockhead Period’ style of play.  

    Here’s link about the game –!

  3. Rebecca said on June 6, 2012 #

    I loved this post. I only just did a post on my little ones a block building the other day!  

  4. ~ joey ~ said on June 7, 2012 #

    Hi Mariah,
    I think I may have mentioned this when I took your course but we photograph all of the kids block creations so we can look back and see how they have progressed over the years. I think they were one of the first toys we bought our daughter (about 7 years ago) and they are still used regularly!
    ~ joey ~

    • mariah said on June 7, 2012 #

      I love the idea photographing the block creations! They really are works of art…

  5. Laura said on June 7, 2012 #

    We have standard wooden blocks that both my kids love playing with, even my 7-year old who I’m so happy is still creating & building with blocks. I love the Kapla blocks – we may need to add a set to our collection. It’s funny – I actually just found a copy of the “How a House is Built” book at LVIS a couple of weeks ago.

    • mariah said on June 7, 2012 #

      Great score! I love it when that happens :-) I hope all is well Laura.

  6. [...] Block Play {Playful Learning} (A great collection of resources at the end!) [...]

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