To test the hypotheses that block play improves language acquisition and attention.
Randomized controlled trial.
Children aged 1½ to 2½ years.
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.
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.
Distribution of blocks can lead to improved language development in middle- and low-income children. Further research is warranted.