The 10 Best Blocks For Toddlers
We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Building blocks for toddlers have been popular toys for generations, not just because of their entertainment value, but for how they help develop spatial reasoning, motor skills, and dexterity, all while introducing children to spelling, numbers and colors. While they can be tons of fun, remember that the unexpected can a happen at any moment, so be sure to always supervise your kids as they play. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best block for toddlers on Amazon.
Building Your Child’s Future, One Block At A Time
How often have you cited some piece of information you have stored somewhere in your brain, but you couldn’t — for the life of you — remember where you saw or heard it?
Even more thoughtful planning must go into more elaborate structures like pyramids.
Over the course of your child’s youth, you’ll want to expose them to as much experience and information as possible. The more they can see and learn from their earliest days, the better equipped they’ll be to face the challenges of school, the workforce, relationships, and even their creative endeavors.
The great thing about the human brain in this respect is that it learns even when its owner doesn’t know it’s learning. How often have you cited some piece of information you have stored somewhere in your brain, but you couldn’t — for the life of you — remember where you saw or heard it? Chances are you were staring out the window in science class, wondering whether the leaves were going to start changing colors, while your teacher explained the difference between a quasar and a pulsar. Yet, somehow, without even meaning to, you retained the information.
Traditionally, children’s block sets come with letters printed on them, even if the children for whom they’re intended won’t begin to read for another few years. This early exposure can build recognition in the brain, which will unconsciously record individual letter shapes, as well as pairings of letters, albeit with no sonic, phrasal, or meaningful correlations.
Of course, blocks today can come with anything printed on them, and you’ll see sets on the market depicting everything from numbers, colors, and the alphabet to the periodic table of elements. In some cases — as with the periodic table — you’ll come across a set that can maintain its usefulness long after your child has grown past the age considered appropriate to playing with blocks. If a 12-year-old uses block combinations to study elements and the formation of molecules, and that helps them pass a 6th grade science exam, then you got some serious mileage out of your investment.
Ultimately, what’s printed on the blocks may be secondary to another developmental benefit these toys can offer children. Toddler blocks are among the first items your child will use to develop important motor skills. It takes hand-eye coordination, patience and precision to build a block tower. Even more thoughtful planning must go into more elaborate structures like pyramids. These early experiments can lay the groundwork to turn your tot into the next Frank Lloyd Wright.
A very different career path than that of the architect may start here, as well. Once children have spent countless hours developing the most elaborate block cities their little minds could imagine, there’s one left for them to do that provides as much fun in just a few seconds as the entire building process gave them. What is it? Well, let’s just say that the military and construction crews are always in need of a good demolitions expert.
Choosing The Right Blocks For Your Tot
Block sets have come an awful long way over the years, and the models available on our list cover a great many shapes, sizes, and styles. Choosing the set that your kid is absolutely going to love has as much to do with their personality as it does with your ambitions for them.
Your child may have already tipped their hand in a certain direction, though.
A youngster who hasn’t yet exhibited a particular affinity toward any one style of play could potentially do well with any block set. That makes them a kind of blank canvas, if you will, on which you can pin some of your hopes for their future. If you want to encourage their metaphorical minds, the beginnings of which can be found in the first, unguided exposure to a correlation between language and perception, blocks with familiar sights and their corresponding names would be most welcome.
Your child may have already tipped their hand in a certain direction, though. Perhaps the old trick in which you move a magnet on the top of a table with another hidden beneath the table (by magic, you told them) fascinated them for hours. Then, a set that employs some form of magnetism to adhere the blocks to each other could be a great idea. Such a gift may set in motion an appreciation of the sciences that could last the child’s lifetime.
It also might be a good idea to reckon with your child’s level of violence. Young children, especially boys, can pick up surprisingly violent behaviors at a very early age. These children are not the best candidates for heavier blocks or any other block that could make itself into a handy weapon come play time. Fortunately, there are sets out there that are lightweight and harmless, even in the hands of your little sociopath.
A Brief History Of Children’s Blocks
Toys of any sort weren’t terribly common among children for the majority of human existence. Children might have had a doll or two, but they were largely left to their own devices until they were old enough to work, which was pretty young until child labor laws came along during the Industrial Revolution. Still, the upper classes in society always sought devices that could help teach their children, and blocks are an old favorite.
Toys of any sort weren’t terribly common among children for the majority of human existence.
The first documented reference to blocks designed for children’s educational play comes from the writings of the philosopher John Locke in the late 17th century. He hypothesized that such blocks, adorned with the letters of the alphabet, would be advantageous in teaching a child to read. The influence of this thought rings true even in today’s block designs.
The blocks were later mentioned in a book on educating children that came out more than a century later, and by 1820, inventor S.L. Hill began producing blocks for children out of his shop in Brooklyn.
The big push came in the late 1830s, however, when Friedrich Fröbel designed Fröbel’s Gifts, a set of toys intended to give children an edge in spacial and color relations. These early toys continue to inform the production of educational toys for children, even in the midst of our digital revolution.
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