(Guidecraft $72.00 & up)
If there's one toy every child should have, blocks are it! Nothing is more basic to play than a set of wooden unit blocks. A set with 34 pieces is a place to start, although a 76-piece set ($72) would be even more versatile. Pictured here is a school size set that has 28 shapes. Unit blocks come with built-in possibilities for discovery as they are scaled to each other; putting two squares together, kids discover the two equal one rectangular block; two of the triangles makes a square, etc. Blocks develop kids' spatial understanding, their eye hand skills, their problem solving abilities, imagination, and language. They are the raw materials for dramatic play that put kids in charge. They are great for using with wooden trains for making bridges and roadways for toy cars, barns for small animals. Be sure to add some scaled down vehicles, and animals and even some doll house or action figures to the mix. Give them a place where the blocks can stay up for a while so that they can make settings for their dramatic play. Blocks can be used solo and in cooperative play. Beginners often will start off by building horizontally, but soon enough preschoolers will start building upwards. These are basic gear for kids with lasting play value because they are completely open-ended and can be used in multiple ways. They may be a farm one day and a bridge the next. One of a favorite lines of props for blocks are the Jungle and Farm Animal sets from Learning Resources.
Ages: Preschoolers, Early School
Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Blue Chip Award 2011
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