Building blocks of literacy

Category: Bookbug

Children (and even some adults) love playing with wooden blocks. There is something ultimately satisfying about stacking, sorting, shaping and building. And sometimes the best bit of building something up is knocking it down. Children use a variety of skills to do this – hand/eye co-ordination, sorting, fine and gross motor skills, spatial awareness... the list goes on. I’ve always associated block play with maths skills, but this week I read an article that made me see it slightly differently. Literacy and language skills can also be supported with block play.


It’s important to note that areas of development such as hand/eye coordination and ability to form patterns, recognise patterns and shapes are not mutually exclusive to an area such as language or maths. These areas support learning and development across all areas. Children learn holistically and the development of these skills will help to develop children’s skills across all areas.

Blocks are a creative and expressive medium—just like writing and drawing. Blocks can be used as a way for children to recreate scenes, provide alternate descriptions and react to the emotions of the story. Think about using blocks integrated into story times or just after. Give children an array of shapes and sizes and ask them to recreate their favourite bit of the story. Give children a chance to explore blocks creatively as a way of reacting to stories and you will be helping to build the foundations of literacy. You can’t build a tall tower without a strong foundation.