Questions in block play can support mathematical learning
Use these great questions during block play to help children learn math skills.
Playing with blocks is one of the most satisfying and fun ways to interact with your child while teaching important skills to enhance their language, social, emotional, cognitive and motor development. Block play can help to increase vocabulary, math, science and overall physical development. In this series of articles, you will learn some specific questions to use to interact with your child using blocks to increase their developmental skills.
There are many ways to increase mathematical skills and knowledge by playing with blocks. Playing with blocks can increase the ability to understand sizes, shapes and patterns. Block play can also lead to increased skills in counting, adding, subtracting and sorting. As you use blocks to play with your children, be aware of some important and fun questions you can ask to support their learning and increasing of mathematical skills.
Questions for learning about counting with blocks:
- How many blocks do you have?
- Can we count how many blocks you have?
- How many square blocks? How many circle blocks?
- What color blocks do you have?
- Do you have a red block? Do you have a blue block?
- How many red (blue, green, orange, etc.) blocks are there?
Questions for learning about patterns with blocks:
- Can you make a pattern with…? (choose two color or two shape blocks)
- What comes next in the pattern? (example: red, blue, red, blue)
- How can you continue the pattern?
Questions for learning about shapes with blocks:
- Can you pick up a round block? Can you pick up a square block?
- Can you find a block shaped like a triangle? Can you find a block shaped like a circle?
- What shapes are you using to build your castle (tower, house, etc.)?
Questions for learning about sizes with blocks:
- How tall can you build your block tower?
- Which block is the smallest? Which block is the biggest?
- Which block is smaller? Which block is bigger?
- Can you build a castle/tower larger than the one you just built?
- Can you find the smallest block and place it on top?
Questions for learning about sorting with blocks:
- Can you put all the yellow (red, blue, green, etc.) blocks right here?
- Can you put all the red blocks in the bucket? All the green blocks? All the blue blocks?
- Can you line up all the small blocks? Can you line up all the big blocks?
- Can you line up all the blocks from smallest to biggest? Biggest to smallest?
Questions for learning about adding using blocks:
- How tall will your tower be if you add two more blocks?
- How many orange (red, blue, yellow, etc.) blocks will you have if you add one more?
- How many red (blue, green, yellow, etc.) blocks will you have if you take one away?
Using any of these questions while playing with blocks can help a child increase their knowledge and excitement of math. Beginning to learn math at an early age can help create pathways in the brain for children to have a greater chance of being successful at learning higher math skills later in life. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) provides many activities, ideas and articles for playful math learning and is a great place to find extra resources for helping children increase their learning in mathematics.
For more information on developing math skills, please see these articles by Michigan State University Extension:
- Helping your child develop early math skills
- Matching and sorting are early stages of math development
- More than one, two and three: early childhood math
- Learning math skills with tablets