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.
Read more: How to Avoid Toxic Toys
What are the benefits of playing with building blocks?
Blocks don’t have to be just for stacking and sorting. The Petilou Sensory Shapes from Le Toy Van are designed to stimulate sight, touch and sound. With different textures, bells, beads, kaleidoscope, mirror and more, little ones will have hours of fun discovering.
Children can listen to the noises and parents can talk about how they sound. “This one has a rattly sound”. “This one one has a jingly sound.”
Tenderleaf Toys has a visual sensory tray where all the blocks have little windows and fun things to look at.
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?”
These String Along Shapes from Hape are blocks with holes in them. Children can copy patterns and matching as well as work on their fine motor
Read more: Top 10 Toys for Open Ended Play
Different Types of Blocks for KidsSound blocks
First sound blocks are like a discovery tour. Everearth Discovery Blocks with Sound are designed for both auditory and visual stimulation. The blocks are bright, fun colours with different pattens, plus there are balls, bells and rattles for fun sounds, too.
These brightly coloured blocks from Haba come in five different blocks with things like squeakers, rattles and bells, and are the perfect size for the nappy bag.
Blocks with walkers
If you’re looking for nice big chunky blocks for toddlers around 12 months old, the Janod ABC Walker has a heap of bright wooden blocks that fit beautifully into the walker for construction on the go. There's even a bead abacus for extra fun. 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 Janod Cocoon Block Walker has blocks with different sounds, textures and shapes for sensory stimulation, as well as lovely bright colours for visual stimulation.
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 Kinderfeets Bamboo ABC Blocks are a great example, as are the alphabet blocks in the Janod Cocoon Walker.
For a lighter touch, there are paper nesting blocks that can be stacked, sorted and then tucked snugly away inside each other for storage. The fact that they're hollow means that they can be used for houses, caves and hiding places!
We love the Djeco Funny Blocks with their numbers and funny animals stacked up on top of each other. They're surprisingly durable, too.
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!