Now there's another reason (besides plain fun) to pile on the bricks and mortar: Block play can help babies learn to talk. A recent study of 1- to 2-year-olds found that those who played with blocks with their parents just 20 minutes a day scored 15 percent higher on language development tests and were 80 percent less likely to watch television. "We've always known block play was fun, and now we have evidence that it promotes development, too," says study author and Seattle Children's Hospital pediatrician Dimitri Christakis, M.D. The perfect age for block play? Six months to 2 years, says Dr. Christakis, but you can rock the blocks at any age. Here, a few great ways to make the most of this classic toy:
- Sort blocks by color, size, or theme.
- Build tunnels for toy cars and trains to travel through.
- Construct houses for dolls or barns for animals.
- Line up blocks and pretend they are piano keys; use spoons to "play" them.
- And the all-time favorite block activity: Create the tallest tower you can, then knock it down!