Questions in block play can support scientific learning

Questions to use during block play to help children learn science skills.

Blocks

An excellent way to enhance your child’s scientific skill set is by playing together with blocks. Through block play, you can help your child focus on specific skills that may lead to a greater understanding of scientific principles as they learn more about the world around them. Remember that you can play with blocks anywhere. Feel free to take blocks to the backyard, park and places where you can spend time in nature. Using blocks in unconventional locations may create new sensory experiences that connect children to the natural world and their overall environment. 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 scientific skills and knowledge by playing with blocks. Playing with blocks can increase the ability to use observation, guessing and comparison. Block play can also lead to increased understanding of gravity, weight and balance. As you use blocks to play with your children, it is essential to be aware of some important and fun questions you can ask to support their learning and increasing of scientific skills.

Questions for learning about comparisons with blocks:

  • Can you show me which tower is the tallest?
  • Which block is the smallest? Which block is the biggest?
  • Which block is the shortest? Which block is the longest?
  • Do you have more red blocks or blue blocks? More yellow blocks or green blocks?
  • Is the red tower or the green tower the smallest?
  • Is the yellow tower or blue tower the biggest?

Questions for learning about gravity with blocks:

  • What will happen to the tower if we take this block away? (Choose a block in the middle.)
  • What makes the blocks fall down?
  • What can you do to make the tower fall down?

Questions for learning about balance with blocks:

  • Can you hold this block and stand on one foot?
  • How many blocks can you stack before it tips over, falls down, etc.?
  • Can you build a bridge with your blocks?
  • How can you make the blocks even? (Two on each side, three on each side, etc.)

Questions for learning about weight with blocks:

  • Can you show me the block you think is the heaviest? Lightest?
  • Which block would fit best on the top of your tower?
  • Which block should we use for the bottom of the tower (use to start building the tower)?
  • What would happen if you put the heaviest block on top of the tower?

Questions for learning about observation with blocks:

  • Can you show me the smallest block? The largest block?
  • Where is the square block, the circle block, the triangle block, etc.?
  • Can you find the shortest block? The longest block?
  • Where is the straight block? Where is the curved block?

Questions for learning about guessing using blocks:

  • Can we stack 10 blocks without them falling over?
  • If I remove this block, what do you think will happen?
  • If I place a block here, what will happen?
  • Can you show me the block you think will fit here?

Using any of these questions while playing with blocks can help a child increase their knowledge and excitement for science. Beginning to learn science at an early age can help increase creation of pathways in the brain. With more experiences, children may have a greater chance of being successful at learning higher scientific skills later in life.

Another great spot to search for science activities and resources is PBS Parents. They offer many activities, ideas and articles for playful science learning and are a great place to find extra resources for helping children increase their learning in science.

For more information on developing science skills, please see these articles provided by Michigan State University Extension:

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