Families turn out for Block Fest

Adults and children stack large foam blocks during the first Block Fest in Marion County. The two-session event, sponsored by Marion County Parents as Teachers and Marion County Head Start, drew 33 adults and 43 children, representing 23 families. The intent is to combine learning opportunities with family-centered fun, according to organizers. If participation is an indicator, the first Block Fest offered this month in Marion County definitely was an event to build upon in coming years.

The premiere effort drew a total of 33 adults and 43 children, representing 23 families.

To accommodate more family schedules, one session was offered Friday evening, Nov. 16, with a second session the following morning at Marion Elemen?tary School.

A cooperative project of Marion County Parents as Teachers and Marion County Head Start, the purpose of Block Fest ?is to provide a fun, engaging atmos?phere that is filled with a variety of non-interlocking blocks,? said Lori Soo Hoo, director of Marion County PAT.

Justin Dameron interacts with his two children, Reagan and Kae, at the Unit Cubes station during the Saturday session at Marion Elementary School.The various blocks were provided through the Kansas Parents as Teachers Associ?ation loan bank.

?Parents and children have an opportunity to play and interact with the blocks together, while also connecting socially in play with other families in the county,? said Soo Hoo.

While at play, families could read how block play enriches their children?s understanding of math and science.

?For example, concepts such as size, shape, patterning, weight, comparison, etc., were highlighted on the family-friendly literature displays in each of the five block stations,? Soo Hoo said.

According to Block Fest developers, two decades of research indicate children build number and math skills from a very early age, and that those who are strong in early math skills excel in math in the later years.

Block play contributes to later math competence, according to the website. Other benefits include:

? providing a natural context for exploring the physical world.

? supporting other aspects of development, including language, as children talk about their structures with the adults and children around them.

? providing opportunities for children?s social and emotional development as they build and share with others.

? challenging children cognitively as they solve the problems that arise in the construction process.

?We were grateful for the use of the Marion Elemen?tary cafeteria and the partnership with Marion County Head Start,? Soo Hoo said. ?We look forward to hosting our second annual Block Fest again next year.?

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