Constructive play and cognitive development

Early Engineers

Correlation between constructive play and cognitive development

With the positive buzz of STEM spreading, the search to find ways of boosting your little ones STEM skills is on. We all share the passion of educating our children, but often struggle with finding easy ways to enhance our children’s STEM knowledge.

Long days at school, busy evenings rushing around to practice, and book reports due in the morning usually consume our day. Pushing more educational “work” can seem daunting to a little one, and not as engaging to us parents. Here is where constructive toys, such as LEGO, save the day!

Construction toys allow a child to build and create. An article written by DR. Gwen Dewar highlighted the correlations of constructive play and cognitive development. In 2013, David Grissmer and his colleagues conducted a 28-week long study to put the benefits of structured block play to the test. Working with 45 children grade K-1, they had students participate in an after-school program of building activities. After daily play sessions for 28 weeks, Grissmer concluded that the students participating had substantial gains in mathematics ability, spatial reasoning, and executive control.

In addition to Grissmer’s study, adult scientists and engineers have testified that constructive toys help boost their STEM abilities. In some cases, these construction toys even inspired their careers. Tiffany Tseng, an engineer in the MIT Media Lab, notes “Legos are a good introduction to communicating ideas with physical objects. Putting things together and taking them apart got me interested in how things work…” Careers aside, adults that exercised constructive play as a child were more likely to produce inventions. LEGO, K’Nex, or wood blocks are great examples of accessible constructive toys.

By turning a learning session into a play session, enhancing the valuable STEM skills can be enjoyable for the whole family. Free play can be fun when a child wants to be creative with their build. This encourages self-expression. Structured block play is when a child recreates a construction, such as the new Golden 1 Arena, or the Eiffel Tower. Although a structured build is more constrained, it calls on a skill set that is crucial for many tasks in life. This enhances critical thinking skills.

Here at Dream Enrichment Classes, we believe in making STEM education more accessible. That’s why we offer the after-school STEM program Early Engineers. This building based class is held on the campuses of over 80 Elementary schools in the greater Sacramento area, and starts right after school. Our classes are a hybrid of structured build and creativity as each child’s unique input is used to complete projects. This keeps students engaged and challenged. With curriculum that is not cumulative, it’s always a good time to start classes.

Thank you for building with us!

From the Early Engineers Team to you – Keep Dreaming!
1820 Tribute Road, Suite F, Sacramento, CA 95815
[email protected]

Picture Disclaimer: Any photos shown in this blog post are from recent classes in the greater Sacramento area. Photo locations will vary each week.

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