Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

  • Karen Francisco l The Journal Gazette Four-year-old Damonie Fortt uses a pulley to lift blocks on a visit to the Shawnee branch library. A grant from PNC allowed Allen County Public Library to buy multiple sets of blocks.

Saturday, May 13, 2017 1:00 am

Libraries help kids build solid foundation

“Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play,” Plato counseled.

The ancient philosopher was on to something. Children learn through play – as they are doing at Allen County Public Library through a new block-play program. PNC awarded the library system $30,000 through its Grow Up Great early-learning initiative to buy multiple sets of blocks and to support programming for child-care groups at the main library and Hessen Cassel, Pontiac and Shawnee branches.

In June and July, the blocks will be available for a “Block Party” series at most branch locations.

Shawnee branch manager Pamela Martin-Diaz demonstrated the power of block play with little ones from Loving Hands Child Care on Friday. The library has a set of Big Blue Blocks – soft foam pieces in multiple shapes – as well as wooden unit blocks and a Rigamajig set, with nuts, bolts and pulleys that allow children to engineer an infinite number of playthings. Two-year-old Natalia Smith busied herself with a handful of unit blocks, while Kambreanna Pringle, 7, connected oversized blocks with nuts and bolts.

“Early Childhood Alliance is providing training on the stages of block play – which all children go through,” Martin-Diaz said. “Then it's building and bridging.”

The eight-stage process ultimately leads to complex structures, with children using blocks to create things they recognize, like cars and houses.

PNC's Catherine Hill said the grant is linking child-care providers working with ECA to the libraries.

“We bring more people in to use the library, where there are a plethora of free resources,” she said. “We're getting Early Childhood Alliance to integrate that into all of their Parents as Teacher and teacher trainings.”