Effect of block play on language acquisition and attention in toddlers: a pilot randomized controlled trial

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007 Oct;161(10):967-71. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.161.10.967.


Objective: To test the hypotheses that block play improves language acquisition and attention.

Design: Randomized controlled trial.

Setting: Pediatric clinic.

Participants: Children aged 1(1/2) to 2(1/2) years.

Intervention: Distribution of 2 sets of building blocks.

Main outcome measures: Scores on the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories, television viewing based on diary data, and the hyperactivity domain of the Child Behavior Checklist.

Results: Of 220 families approached in the clinic waiting room, 175 (80%) agreed to participate in the study. At least 1 diary was returned from 92 of the 175 families (53%). A total of 140 families (80%) completed exit interviews. Of the children in the intervention group, 52 (59%) had block play reported in their diaries compared with 11 (13%) in the control group (P<.01). The linear regression results for language acquisition were as follows: entire sample--raw score, 7.52 (P=.07); percentile, 8.4 (P=.15); low-income sample--raw score, 12.40 (P=.01); percentile, 14.94 (P=.03). For attention the results were as follows: entire sample--odds ratio, 0.49 (P=.29); low-income sample--odds ratio, 0.48 (P=.26) There were no statistically significant differences with respect to hyperactivity scores.

Conclusions: Distribution of blocks can lead to improved language development in middle- and low-income children. Further research is warranted.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology*
  • Child Behavior / physiology*
  • Child Behavior / psychology
  • Child Language
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Language Development*
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pilot Projects
  • Play and Playthings*
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Psychological Tests
  • Psychometrics
  • Social Environment
  • Television
  • Washington