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Creative destruction: a block party for kids and parents

Staff writer

A creative bunch of little destructors teamed up with parental counterparts to construct and annihilate multiple toy block structures last week at “Block Fest.”

Rural Marion resident Emma Tajchman attended with her children and a niece.

“They love it,” Tajchman said Saturday. “They like the cardboard bricks and the foam blocks because of the big size. How fun is it to build a huge tower and then knock it over? I’ve been knocking them down, too.”

Several stations with various types of blocks were offered Thursday in the Community Center at Lincolnville and Friday and Saturday in Marion City Building’s basement.

“It’s a great opportunity for bonding time between kids and parents,” said Elaine Ewert, an advocate with Head Start. “It’s also a good opportunity for families who might not normally talk to each other to get a chance to interact.”

At a cardboard block station, Marion resident Chrissy McFall said her daughter, Claire, enjoyed stacking and destroying “Jenga” and “ABC” blocks at home, so it was a good opportunity for them to get more playtime together.

Event patron Ross Baker said he appreciated the “safe, warm environment” for his children to have fun in. Another patron, Kimberly Whiteman, also noted the event’s positive ambience.

“There’s good energy here, and more families than last year,” she said. “My kids are right at the age where they like to destroy things.”

Parents as Teachers coordinator Lori Soo Hoo explained how block play differed by the development age of a child.

She said babies were fascinated by colors, textures, and sounds of Blocks.  They typically enjoy studying a block’s properties, discovering what kinds of sounds they can create, how the blocks feel and what they look like from all angles. 

“Toddlers enjoy carrying, stacking, and knocking Blocks down,” Soo Hoo said. “They are still in the cause and effect discovery stage, practicing again and again building up and knocking down.”   

Older toddlers and early preschoolers usually like to figure out how to bridge and enclose structures, and developmentally, they are at the stage where they start noticing patterns and how blocks are similar or different from one another.

“Preschoolers and older children are filled with creative representation and dramatic play in their block designs,” Soo Hoo said. “They want to represent the world around them through their block play.”

She said 76 children and 47 adults attended this year’s event.

The local event was a joint venture between Marion County Parents as Teachers and Marion County Head Start, Soo Hoo said.  Blocks kits were borrowed from Manhattan Parents as Teachers free of charge.

Several years ago, Kansas Parents as Teachers Association and the Twiga Foundation collaborated to provide each of the state’s PAT regions a complete Block Fest kit.

“Play is children’s work, and toys are children’s words,” Soo Hoo said. “Block Fest allows children to engage in meaningful play with family and friends while using the familiar language of blocks.

“As adults, we have the privilege of joining children in their world of play and teaching them something new as we interact.”

Last modified Nov. 24, 2015

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