Stacking and building games: why they’re good for children

Stacking blocks, boxes or cushions into a tower and then knocking them down is a lot of fun. It’s also great for your child’s creative learning and problem-solving.

Through stacking and building games, your child learns how to balance things to keep a tower upright. These games also help your child practise hand-eye coordination. And they introduce your child to early numeracy skills like size, height, comparison, order and so on. For example, how many blocks do I need to make the tower this high? Should I put the bigger box or the smaller box on next?

Watching the tower fall down can be fun, and this can motivate your child to try again.

What you need for stacking and building games

Your child can build and stack with blocks. Everyday items around the house are good for stacking and building too. These include:

  • plastic containers and cups
  • cardboard boxes
  • small toys
  • dominoes or dice
  • pillows or cushions.

How to play stacking and building games

  • Clear a space large enough for the things your child wants to stack. It might be on the floor for big blocks or boxes, or at the table for smaller stacks.
  • Encourage your child to see how high she can build. Talk about what’s happening. For example, ‘Can you fit another one on?’ or ‘That was a tricky one to balance. Well done’.
  • Describe position and size. For example, ‘You’ve put the big block on top of the small block’.
  • When the tower eventually falls, encourage your child to try again. For example, ‘Crash! That was fun. Can we make it taller this time?’

You could combine water play with stacking outside. Try stacking plastic containers and then pouring water over the top from a watering can or jug. Ask your child what it reminds him of. A waterfall?

Adapting stacking and building games for children of different ages

Large, regular blocks are easiest for your younger child to stack. Soft things like cushions and pillows are also fun and safe for your younger child to stack and knock over.

Your older child might enjoy the challenge of stacking irregular items, like cardboard boxes of different sizes, or building a larger construction like a wall or fort.