Building blocks are a classic children’s toy, and rightly so. There’s so much to be learned from playing with building blocks. They’re perfect for imaginative play as children get older and learn to make castles and forts, but even very young children will get a lot of benefit from blocks. Many blocks are great for sensory stimulation, and toddlers will develop motor skills as they grab and bang them, and derive great joy from toppling towers of blocks over!
How do you choose great children’s building blocks?
- Take all the usual precautions with the materials that you choose, and avoid toys with bisphenol-a, PVC, lead and phthalates.
- Make sure that the size is appropriate for your child. If you have a child under three, ensure that the blocks can’t be swallowed.
- If you’re choosing wooden blocks, go with wood from sustainable sources and always check that the dyes and finishes are non-toxic.
What are the benefits of playing with building blocks?
Blocks don’t have to be just for stacking and sorting. The Wonderworld Sensory Blocks have different colours for visual stimulation, blocks with beads inside for auditory stimulation, and blocks with different textures on them for tactile stimulation.
There’s a block with a child safe mirror, and blocks with different coloured Perspex to look through. Children can match the textiles on the board, and parents can talk about how they feel. “This one feels soft”. “This one feels rough.”
Of course, you can also build with these blocks, or just do the time honoured favourite activity of stacking them and knocking them over!
Everearth building blocks have lots of different shapes, including triangles, rectangles, columns, cubes, half circles and blocks with half circles cut out. Children can stack these blocks high and knock them down, or they can use the blocks to make castles, forts, houses and anything that their imaginations can conceive.
Parents can help teach toddlers about balance and shapes. “If you stack the triangle on top of the half circle, will it stay?”
“If you stack the triangle on top of the rectangle, will it balance?”
First sound blocks are like a discovery tour. Not all the blocks have the rattle, but it’s such good fun working out which ones do! The coloured blocks in this set are the ones that make a noise, and it’s a great way for testing your child’s power of recall to see if they remember which ones will rattle.
The solid natural blocks in the QToys Wooden Sound Blocks don’t make any noise, and they’re chunky enough for banging and building.
Wonderworld’s Rainbow Sound Blocks are also designed for auditory stimulation. Each block has different sized beads inside, so they all make a different sound as they bang against the wood. These blocks were my children’s favourite blocks, and they look absolutely gorgeous, too.
Blocks with walkers
If you’re looking for nice big chunky blocks for toddlers around 12 months old, the Plan Toys Baby Walker has a heap of wooden blocks that fit beautifully into the walker for construction on the go. Ideal for little guys who aren’t quite walking, the walker will give them a bit of a guiding hand. The blocks are solid enough for some joyful banging, or if parents have the patience – for endlessly knocking over stacks of blocks!
The Im Toy Deluxe Blocks Walker has blocks with different sounds, textures and shapes for sensory stimulation, as well as lovely bright colours for visual stimulation.
Learn the alphabet
Wooden building blocks can also be used for learning the alphabet, colours and numbers. You can build with them of course! But you can also use them for learning how to recognize letters and how to spell basic words. The Melissa & Doug Alphabet Blocks Cart is a great example.
If you want blocks that can be used indoors or out, or even in the bath or paddling pool, you don’t have to go with toxic plastics. Have a look at Green Toys recycled blocks. They’re made from upcycled milk cartons and yoghurt pots, so they’re all HDPE, food grade plastic. It’s non toxic, and perfect little guys. They’re super easy to clean and can even go into the dishwasher. The beauty of plastic blocks is that they won’t get ruined if they get left out in the rain.
There are loads of different blocks to choose from. We’ve given you a sample of some of the lovely building blocks we have here at Hello Charlie. To see more of our great stacking, sorting and building toys, take a look here. Hope you have fun!
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