Using Wooden Building Blocks For The Special Needs Child
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"Wooden building blocks can be an activity that can be a highly motivating for the special needs child. The educational value of wooden block play extends from the young preschool child to older children and also to the special needs child. Wooden blocks are versatile, played with in limitless ways, and can be a solitary activity or a social activity. This makes a good wooden block set flexible enough to apply to many children with different special needs.
Here’s some ideas for using a wooden blocks set for special needs children-
-Make the blocks accessible-many times blocks are played with on the floor. If your child is using a wheel chair provide a table for building. A table with an edge on it could keep the blocks on the table top when they fall. Consider the child’s functional skills such as reaching abilities.
-Store them in a container that they can be easily put away. Not in a crate or wooden box that they have to be put away in a certain order. This could be frustrating to some children. Plastic buckets are a great storage solution for a wooden blocks set.
-Find a wooden block set with appropriate size blocks for manipulation for your special needs child. This may mean larger blocks in some cases or smaller blocks in other cases. Consider gross, fine motor and grasping abilities.Are you able to custom make your block set with the appropriate combinations of blocks? See our page of individual blocks for sale.
-”Adjust” your blocks for a child who would have difficulty stacking. Maybe put spots of velcro on them to help them stay together. Could you use this for a while and then remove them as skills improve?
-Most children will play with wooden building blocks for long periods of time. They can be an excellent toy to help children who are working to increase their attention span. Set goals and work with the child to stay at the task until the goal is reached. For example, can you make your tower so tall, or use all of the blocks they are given. The next time they play can they make the tower a little taller or have a few more blocks to use.
-Get a variety of shapes of blocks. This can provide sensory opportunities for a blind child for example. They can feel what a triangle, arch or column feels like.
-Blocks are a great toy to help to work on increasing impulse control. Could you say can you wait to knock your tower down until it is 10 blocks high? Maybe the next time 12 blocks or 15?
-Building blocks foster opportunities for learning to cooperate with other children and adults. Can you help me put these blocks on top of this building?
-Playing with wooden building blocks provides opportunities working on for taking turns and sharing. Give each child a certain number of blocks and have them combine them to make a structure.
-Kids love to build with other kids so a wooden blocks set is a great way to encourage social interactions for all children. If a special needs child is working on developing social skills have them spend some time working with other children in the blocks center.
-Building a tower is a great way to learn cause and effect reasoning, and how to make predictions. Build a tower together and ask them what do you think will happen if we put this block on top of here? Or when do you think our tower will fall? Or what will happen if we remove this block?
-Block play is known to aid language development. Simple terms such as under, over, on top of, balance, can be learned and reinforced. Group play with a set of wooden building blocks also exposes children to opportunities for language development while playing with or along side other children. Could you use blocks as manipulative to form the shape of letters?
-Even very simple stacking activities with building blocks can help children of all abilities learn to problem-solve.
-If a special needs child tends to throw blocks consider using a lighter or smaller wooden block or a foam block or hollow block.
-If a special needs child tends to mouth toys make sure blocks are natural wood not painted or stained.
-Educational concepts such as sorting, numerical understanding, size and shape relationship are all inherent while playing with blocks.Have the child sort all of a certain shape of block, or make a tower 5 blocks high, how many blocks are there if we add one or remove one, compare sizes and shapes of blocks, which one is largest, tallest, thinnest? Learning these concepts with a concrete object in hand can be helpful for the special needs child.
Wooden building blocks are a favorite toy for children from preschool even up to teens. Children with special needs also can benefit from the educational versatility of wooden blocks. Whether playing alone or in groups, with peers or with parents, children of all abilities learn from and love wooden blocks.
Follow this link for a list of suggested wooden blocks sets for the special need child.