Play idea: Blocks – Poro rākau

Blocks are valuable manipulative and creative resources for children.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • All early learning services 
  • Educators, teachers and kaiako
  • Service managers
  • Parents, caregivers and whānau

Children learn through play. Below is some information about a play idea for your children.

Blocks help to develop maths, science, art, language and social skills. They also provide plenty of opportunities for developing persistence, problem-solving and creating 3-dimensional structures.

Block play can help children to

  • learn about gravity, stability, balance, weight, and trial and error
  • understand shape, size, space, depth, width and height
  • develop hand-eye coordination and muscles
  • learn to plan and ask questions
  • gain confidence in their own abilities
  • learn to cooperate and share with others.

Adults can support children by

  • allowing them to explore at their own pace
  • supporting them to put their own ideas into practice
  • helping them sort out problems
  • listening and talking to them about what they are doing
  • encouraging them to help tidy up afterwards
  • making sure they are safe.

Providing for blocks

Children need a lot of space when playing with blocks. Carpeting or low mats provide comfort but some children find it easier to build on an uncarpeted area. Using low shelving or boxes to store the blocks will allow children to reach the blocks they want.

Ideas for equipment

  • home-made blocks made out of different sized boxes (stuffed with paper and taped down or covered with several layers of paper mâché for strength)
  • multiple-unit blocks in full, half or quarter sets
  • sets of coloured blocks
  • items to use alongside blocks – such as toy cars, plastic people and animals
  • other equipment such as cones, cardboard and fabric.

Te Whāriki

Block play supports learning across all strands of Te Whāriki. In particular, it supports the exploration strand, where children gain confidence in and control of their bodies. The contribution strand recognises that children develop abilities and interests over a wide range of areas. Block play supports this as well as developing perseverance and commitment to a task. Block play, through the communication strand, supports children to discover and develop different ways to be creative and expressive.

This play idea has been developed for playgroups. Feel free to use it at other types of ECE service, but make sure you're still following the regulations and licensing criteria that apply to your service type. Parents may also find this information useful. 

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