Playing with blocks can help infants learn skills

December 27, 2011 1:15:46 PM PST
Did your kids get a lot of toys for the holidays? A new study shows which ones might help them do better in school down the road.

Experts say certain types of structured play can entertain as well as build skills for children as they grow.

Researchers at Temple University's infant lab found that when youngsters played with construction blocks with their parents, they used words such as "up," "down" and "on." These are all concepts that are important for understanding math, engineering and science.

"Everybody says, 'Oh, they are just playing,' as if you can't be learning and playing or working and playing at the same time," said Temple's Kathy Hirsh-Pasek. "Nothing could be further from the truth."

The researchers conclude that playing with blocks or other simple interactive toys is more beneficial to the child than playing with something pre-assembled, especially when the parent is involved.