Silly Blocks: Exploring STEM and Storytelling

July 28, 2021 • 4 min read

By: Alexandra Heard, Kindergarten Teacher and Master of Education

Silly Blocks, one of the most hilarious STEM toys in Pok Pok Playroom.

Learning through play has to be fun! The most effective learning happens when kids can follow their interests and motivation, so if you ever feel like you are pushing your child’s play in a certain direction to meet a predetermined goal, they likely aren’t going to achieve that goal. This is what open-ended play is all about.

Empowering kids to self-guide play is fundamental to everything we create at Pok Pok, and it’s no different for Silly Blocks! We’ve been expanding the toy to bring kids tons of new mechanics, blocks and opportunities for discovery!

Developing STEM skills through curiosity and play

Though it may not be clear at first glance, there are so many skills and concepts that Silly Blocks can help kids develop. The one we want to share with you the most may surprise you — it’s STEM, which stands for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics. You’ve probably heard this buzz word before, as it’s been a really hot topic in early learning for the past few years. Fundamentally, STEM is all about curiosity, and Silly Blocks sparks it in spades.

Curiosity is rewarded with special animations and sounds based on the actions that kids take. Here are some of the STEM-related areas of learning that your child can explore in Silly Blocks:

  • Problem solving: By experimenting with the placement of blocks, kids are testing the boundaries of the toy. Spoiler, there’s only one — each tower can have a maximum of four blocks. Everything else goes!
  • Sequencing and ordering: Kids will use their pre-existing knowledge of the world to place familiar items in an order that feels sensible to them. However, they are also practicing these skills when they take these ideas of what is ‘normal’ and begin to just mess around with them for fun!
  • Matching: Children often gravitate towards matching identical items. Silly Blocks adds a challenge to this by encouraging them to sort through many different blocks to find the ones they are looking for. You can also prompt them to search for specific pairs or sets like matching balloon blocks, specific colored blocks, two drinks, etc.
  • Classifying and categorizing: This is the act of grouping items together. Silly Blocks’ wide range of blocks allow children to think of many different characteristics they could use for grouping — anything goes! With the spirited summer update comes tons of new ways for kids to make new connections and creations.
  • Experimentation: Kids can investigate each block for something interesting, whether that’s an animation or sounds, or for cause and effect. They’ll discover things like the accordion expanding to create sound, the grill opening to show smoking hot food, the sandcastle turrets disappearing when squashed beneath another block, and loads more. If you’re playing together, you could ask them to predict what animation or sound they think might occur when they come across a new block.
Silly Blocks helps develop storytelling and language skills.

Sparking storytelling through co-play

It may surprise you, but despite being language-free, there are lots of opportunities for kids to develop language and literacy skills in Pok Pok Playroom. By playing together with kids, we can deepen their learning and help empower them to explore independently.

Here are a few ways storyelling can occur in Silly Blocks:

  • Characters: Children will create ‘people’ in Silly Blocks, thanks to the variety of faces, clothing and accessories. Creating characters or representing people is the first step to creating stories and can spark great conversation about inclusion with a grown-up.
  • Storytelling: Creating situations or scenarios and representing them using images is a critical building block of learning to read. Silly Blocks allows children to create towers that tell a story. To encourage storytelling, try prompting them to tell you about their towers.
  • Language: In Silly Blocks you can meaningfully add words like ‘column’, ‘categories’, ‘predict’, ‘maximum’ and ‘minimum’ to your child’s vocabulary. They may seem complex, but kids are never too young to be introduced to longer words provided there’s context for them. It’s also a great tool for practicing color and shape words. If you have the time to sit with your child, narrating what they are doing builds lots of language!
Co-playing can help deepen children’s learning experiences.

As with all of the toys in the Playroom, there are as many opportunities for learning as your little one can dream up. Though every one of our toys is designed to be accessible, fun and educational for kids without an adult playing alongside them (we know how busy you are!), Silly Blocks is a great example of how discussions with kids about occupations, representation, fairness and identity can deepen learning.

We hope families will enjoy diving into this spirited summer update with fresh eyes to discover new blocks and endless opportunities!

Alexandra Heard is a kindergarten teacher in Melbourne, Australia. She completed her Master of Teaching (Early Childhood) at the University of Melbourne in 2016. Since then, Alexandra has worked as a kindergarten teacher to four and five year-olds. In addition to teaching, Alexandra also works with qualified teachers and educators to provide them with professional development opportunities to improve their own work with preschool-aged children.