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Symmetrical blocks are easy to use. Their uniformity makes for simple and systematic stacking.
Symmetrical blocks look pretty stacked on the block area shelving.
Symmetrical blocks, like organized early learning programs, really began to blossom during the industrial revolution, so the blocks and the programs kinda grew up together.
Symmetrical blocks are predictable. They are easy to understand.
Symmetrical blocks convey the uniformity and order that adults often wish (or force) upon children.
1) They Are Imperfect. I love the imperfection of asymmetrical blocks. These blocks, and the structures built with them, have a bit of a wabi sabi aesthetic that I find pleasing. Each asymmetrical block has its own personality–it looks different, it balances different, it feels different in the hand. I like my blocks the way I like my people–unique and a bit askew.
2) They Invite Investigation. Our brains crave novelty and asymmetrical blocks tend to be novel. These blocks become Bright Shiny Objects that draws attention and encourages investigation. Adding asymmetrical blocks to a collection of traditional blocks can reinvigorate a block play area because the busy little brains in the room will be drawn to the interesting new objects.
3) They Behave Differently. Asymmetrical blocks are less predictable than symmetrical blocks. They behave differently. They are prone to tipping and tilting. Their irregular shapes make them more challenging to use. Kids have to work to get them to balance. Building with asymmetrical blocks requires more problem solving and forethought. You have to think about which block your grabbing more often and ask yourself “will this block do the job?” Because of all this, building with asymmetrical blocks can take longer.
I find all these different block behaviors to be features and not bugs. All of the things that can make using such blocks challenging also spark activity in the body and brain. Those are great things to have happen in an early learning classroom.
4) They Play Well. Asymmetrical blocks are the opposite of stuck up and snooty. They play really well with traditional blocks. They add a bit of spice and novelty. The last thing you want to do if you add asymmetrical blocks to you collection of traditional blocks is segregate them.
Mix them up! There’s nothing better than a fully integrated block area with a wide variety of blocks working together to build a castle or construct a cityscape.
Hard To Find
Because the block world is so locked in to traditional blocks, sets of Asymmetrical blocks are a bit hard to find. That’s why we’ve been building our own line of asymmetrical blocks for years. You can, however, always turn to nature for your asymmetrical blocks. Another option is to Do It Yourself. Building your own asymmetrical blocks is pretty straightforward, but just in case you need some help, we’ll be back with some helpful DIY articles.