Why Do We Build?


It’s in our nature. For centuries, humans have been building structures, families, careers, technology, and on and on. It starts very early, sometimes called the builder-instinct in the toy design world, in our young learners. The curiosity that sparks the first “building-blocks” of their lives can set them on a path of building for their future success. Literally, building blocks are a key ingredient to early play and development!

2253 Tree Blocks

At Kidspace, we focus our exhibits, programs, and products in the store on getting families engaged (both physically and mentally) by stimulating their creativity and helping kids discover their potential in the world. Children, especially early learners, are immersed in learning practically every waking moment of their day, but it is our job to continue finding new tools for them to hone in on their abilities and one of those important tools involves BUILDING!

Do you remember your first building blocks or tinker toys set? Builder toys are an area of play that kids never really grow out of, they simply evolve their play to become more advanced or artistic, just ask my husband who keeps Legos at his design desk!

The NAEYC asked their staff and consulting YC editors, “What do you think children learn through block play?” Here were the top 10 responses:

1.   Problem solving. Sometimes it is intentional: “I want to build X. How do I do that?” Other times it is in-the-moment: “To go higher and add to one side, what can I use?”—Peter Pizzolongo

2254 KEVA Planks

2.   Imagination. Children can follow their own plan, or they can share a friend’s vision and work together to create something they never dreamed of.—Karen Cairone

3.   Self-expression. Blocks offer many ways for young dual language learners to explore, express themselves, and demonstrate what they are learning across languages.—Karen Nemeth 

4.   Mathematics. Important concepts and skills are practiced and strengthened through block play, including length, measurement, comparison, number, estimation, symmetry, balance.—Kristen Kemple

5.   Continuity and permanence. Block play engages spatial sense and motor abilities; it can be a solo or a group effort; block creations can stand for an indefinite period of time.—Lawrence Balter 

6.   Creativity. Blocks and other loose parts can be moved freely by children, to be combined and recombined in countless ways.—Angela Eckhoff 

2255 GoldieBlox

7.   Science. Blocks offer opportunities to test hypotheses and build scientific reasoning.—Gayle Mindes

8.   Self-esteem. Children discover that they have ideas and that they can bring their ideas to life by creating, transforming, demolishing, and re-creating something unique.—Holly Bohart

9.   Social and emotional growth. Blocks help children learn to take turns and share materials, develop new friendships, become self-reliant, increase attention span, cooperate with others, and develop self-esteem.—Kathleen Harris

10. Development in all areas. Block play requires fine and gross motor skills. Blocks enhance children’s problem-solving abilities, mathematics skills, and language and literacy abilities. And constructing “creations” builds self-esteem and feelings of success. —Linda Taylor 

2256 Squigz

By playing with building toys, children wonder how things work, about construction and engineering, and also encourage scientific thinking. The hands-on play toys sold in the store enhance the experience in our exhibits such as Imagination Workshop, which is our popular maker space, or helping create those first building experiences like in the Early Childhood Learning Center. There is always something new or an old favorite that is reimagined, but classic wooden blocks, marble runs, and any builder toy that has a gears or circuits element are winners. Some of our favorite building toys at Kidspace’s Busy Bee Learning Store focus on innovation and creativity for ages 1 and up. Already shown above are Tree Blocks, Squigz, KEVA Planks, and GoldieBlox.  Also check these out!

2257 Magformers 2258 TrixTracks


Blog by:

Susan Cardosi-Albert, Assistant Director of Operations, has been with Kidspace Children's Museum since 2005 working within education, retail, and communications.  Previous work includes the Los Angeles Zoo and COSI Science Center after gaining a BA in Broadcast Communications.