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If you look through any child’s toy box, you’re bound to find building blocks in one form or another. It could be stacking cups, Lego bricks or wooden blocks, even playdough – any of which can be used for construction. It’s not only a good creative outlet for children, they can also benefit from building things.

Construction not only encourages creativity, but also improves hand-eye co-ordination, fine motor skills, spatial awareness and develops logic. After all, the biggest stacking cup must go at the bottom. And there are other ways they can benefit from building things, too.

When using blocks to build, children work with their hands, improving muscle strength as well as gross motor development while they get a better understanding of how gravity and balance work. Another benefit is the development of social and language skills as children exchange ideas, tell parents what they did, or ask for help.

Some creative ways to build things

Experiment: While wooden building blocks, playdough, Lego and stacking cups are the most common building materials, experiment with various building sets, such as those with train tracks or toys that need to be put together.
Build a fort:  Construct a fort in the lounge using blankets, pillows, tables and couches. Make it a “secret” fort by constructing an obstacle course on the way in. Climbing through boxes and navigating a maze will guarantee that only children can find their way in.
Construct an outdoor obstacle course: Using various materials, create an obstacle course in the garden, which contains a variety of activities and hurdles, such as riding bikes around cones, jumping through hoops, climbing over objects or balancing along beams.
Sandcastles: Building sandcastles is not only fun, but also gives children the chance to experiment with a different medium.
Build a town or dollhouse: Construct a town out of shoe boxes and make road signs from ice cream sticks. If playing with cars isn’t your thing, make a doll house from spare boxes or Lego piec4s.
Create miniature boats: Build miniature boats with paper, sticks, leaves, or anything else on hand, and race them down a stream or across the pool. Kites are also fun to construct and provide hours of entertainment when the wind is just right.

Building materials from everyday things

With some imagination, you can construct something out of anything and reap the benefits to building. Collect some of the following items so that you also have building materials on hand:

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Drinking straws
  • Paper cups
  • Toothpicks or matches
  • Cardboard tubes
  • Newspaper (always great for paper-mâché)
  • Glue and sticky tape
  • Clean yoghurt, butter or other plastic tubs
  • Coffee cans

So, next time it’s playtime, bring out the building blocks and other toys and let your children let learn, explore and develop valuable skills.

Tamlyn Vincent