Call to donate Duplo blocks to aid Papua New Guinean children’s maths learning

An early childhood education researcher is seeking donations of Duplo Lego for play-based maths learning for prep-aged, Papua New Guinean children.

  • Block play sets the groundwork for numeracy and maths skills now and into the future.
  • Collaborative block play promotes physical, cognitive, social and emotional development
  • Imagination, problem-solving and creativity are all enhanced by playing with blocks

Associate Professor Kym Simoncini, from the QUT School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education, will take the donated blocks to PNG where she is leading a project to upgrade elementary teachers’ (Prep to Year 2) qualifications.

“In February I will deliver maths teacher training in PNG and would like to bring Duplo blocks to show the teachers how block play can set the groundwork for more formal maths learning and achievement,” Professor Simoncini said.

“Lego and Duplo Lego blocks have been a key asset for teachers and researchers investigating block play, early learning, and child development for the past few decades, in fact, LEGO has developed its Six Bricks educational program using six Duplo blocks.

“Block play promotes all areas of development (physical, cognitive, social and emotional) as well as imagination, problem solving and creativity. Block play encourages spatial language such as ‘under’, ‘behind’, ‘beside’.

“Several studies have found a link between block play and maths achievement. For example, a study of pre-school aged children building with blocks alongside their peers and teacher, found that complexity in building with blocks was associated with increases in the children’s mathematical learning.”

Associate Professor Kym Simoncini

Professor Simoncini said block play enabled children to explore maths concepts and teachers to nurture and extend their knowledge and understanding.

“This was confirmed by a study we conducted in East New Britain PNG where children aged 5 to 7 played with donated Duplo blocks and did some play-based learning activities with teachers who had had two training workshops on block learning,” she said.

“Given the lack of other teaching and learning resources, the blocks were played with every day for seven months by the children.

“Overall, the children who had had access to the blocks scored more highly in the five aspects of the Schedule for Early Number Assessment than the group of children who had not.

“This small research study along with other studies show that blocks are an important aid to stimulate mathematical thinking. They are especially important in low-income countries where lack of basic learning supplies is a barrier to better education.”

Associate Professor Simoncini said donations could be left at the Recycling Stations of level 2 both the QUT Libraries at Gardens Point and Kelvin Grove or contact [email protected].

/University Release. View in full here.