No definite scale of developmental stages has been established despite attempts dating back to the 1930’s. However, some trends in block building do emerge as children get older.
A study by Eleanor Robinson in 1958 found a sequence of activities in block building among children ages three through ten. n6
—stacking and making serial arrangements
—symmetrical and balanced buildings
—complex, detailed structures
In a study by Kenneth Moyer and B. Von Haller Gilner in 1956 with 75 children found that girls outperformed boys at all ages.
Block building has traditionally been established as the boys’ territory, but when girls are encouraged and in some cases provided a separate area or time in the block corner, they play with equal enthusiasm.
A variety of unrelated studies with young children have shown that positive reinforcement resulted in greater creativity in block construction; proximity to the child and not color was the significant factor in choosing blocks; one group preferred flat rectangular blocks to any other shape; girls tend to create enclosed spaces while boys build tall structures; positive behavior including peer cooperation increases when larger numbers of blocks are provided.
Social attitudes toward block play as “babyish” may explain why it is restricted to the early childhood curriculum. As the use of manipulatives gains acceptance this prejudice may diminish so that blocks could be found in intermediate and upper elementary classrooms.