Playing with blocks helps kids and parents connect with math and science


By Sue Cody

January 11, 2019

An upcoming play date could help lay the foundation of school readiness for local children and their parents.

Northwest Parenting is hosting a BLOCK Fest® in Warrenton for children from 8 months to 8 years old and their parents.

This block party involves actual blocks, where kids get hands-on play time with their parents. The guided activity helps kids cultivate their natural math skills.

BLOCK Fest was developed and piloted by the University of Idaho Parents as Teachers Demonstration Project and received an award for excellence from the national Parents as Teachers organization.

“Giving children an early opportunity to understand, play and enjoy number work leads to early math success,” according to the BLOCK Fest website. And parents can learn to create a math-friendly home environment, just as they do with reading.

Northwest Parenting will host the event Saturday, Jan. 26, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Warrenton Grade School. All are welcome.


Guided play

BLOCK Fest features five stations, each with different kinds of blocks, says Melissa Brown, NW Parenting education coordinator. Volunteers at each station explain ways to use the blocks and encourage parents to let the children guide the activity.

Brown has recruited volunteers of Coast Guard spouses, but more helpers are needed.

Each station can take from 10 to 30 minutes to complete, depending on how many people attend. Blocks can be sorted by size, shape or color; stacked in lines or used to create an enclosure.  Children move through stages from touching and stacking to building and designing.

Facilitators at each station guide activities and direct play and conversations to promote learning. Parents are guided to ask questions such as whether the block is flat, smooth, rough, round, etc.

Parents gain insight into the educational value of playing with blocks in an environment that encourages curiosity, creativity and problem solving.

“It is important for parents to interact with kids,” Brown says. “Limiting screen time and interacting with children improves social-emotional connections.”

This is the first BLOCK Fest in Clatsop County, and others will be held in Knappa and Seaside.

For those interested in volunteering or hosting a BLOCK Fest, contact Brown at:

Northwest Parenting is dedicated to connecting families and promoting quality education to improve relationships between parents, children, school and all social sets, Brown says.

The Way to Wellville and its sponsor, the Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization, encourage healthy, educational activities.