Top 10 Blocks for Play-based Learning

Top Ten Blocks for Children: What are the best blocks for kids? In this post you will see ten of the best wooden blocks for children as well as where to buy

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Blocks are the epitome of open-ended materials. They allow a child to design, invent and create. Blocks encourage a child to think creatively, problem solve, test and hypothesise. Children can explore concepts of balance, stability and design as they construct. Blocks are also aesthetically beautiful.

So, here’s my top ten blocks for open-ended, creative play. What would make the top of your list? …. and no cheating by scrolling down to see my #1, ok? 🙂 

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But, Kate. My kids aren’t really interested in blocks….

Mine weren’t either, for the longest time. Here’s a post I wrote a while back talking about how we were able to encourage Jack to play with blocks which helped him grow into the little architect/inventor that he is now. 

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Ok, here goes…

Best Blocks for Kids - An Everyday Story

#10 – Interlocking Wooden Blocks

3260-92_interlocking_blocks_mediumThese fabulous Interlocking Wooden blocks work similarly to LEGO bricks but the smooth natural surfaces give them a beautiful appeal. The arches and interlocking dowels inspire castle walls with their brick-style pattern.

We have these ones from Nova Natural Toys. Or similarly, try these ones from Modern Teaching Aids.

#9 – Classic Building Blocks

melissaanddougA simple set of classic wooden blocks make the perfect first blocks. Check out your local charity store for vintage blocks or have a look at some of these sets.

Our first set of blocks were these Melissa & Doug Wood Blocks. The natural wooden blocks from Ryan’s Room look lovely and so do these maple blocks from Hape.

#8 – Tree Blocks

How to make tree blocks - An Everyday StoryTree blocks; simple, beautifully textured, easy to make and free. What could be more wonderful?

Check out my very simple tutorial on how to make tree blocks.

 

#7 – Translucent Colour Blocks

Best Blocks for KidsThe vivid colours of translucent colour blocks are very inviting for children. Arrange them on a light panel, near a sunny window to catch the natural light or atop a shatter-proof mirror.

We have these large colour blocks as well as these smaller ones. If you’re in the U.S, check out these ones from Discount School Supply.

Light Panel Activities with Blocks - An Everyday Story#6 – Mirror Blocks

Best Blocks for Kids - Mirror BlocksMirrors add a new and interesting dimension to block play. Children naturally interact with mirrors; first exploring their own reflection and them incorporating them into their play.

Beyond the block area, children can use these blocks to explore and manipulate natural light; creating interesting light patterns on a wall or ceiling.

If you’re in Australia, I can really recommend these ones from Modern Teaching Aids. Or similarly, check out these ones from GuideCraft.

Best Blocks for Kids - Unit Blocks - An Everyday Story

#5 – Coloured Window Blocks

Best Blocks for Kids - Window BlocksWhen we first got our Coloured Window Blocks, they were like a little bit of magic. Jack & Sarah had never played with anything like them; the colourful reflections were so captivating. Three years later and they haven’t lost their appeal.

Have a look at these ones from Modern Teaching Aids. Or ZartArt have a set with smaller blocks.

If you’re outside Australia, there are these ones from GuideCraft or this set from Constructive Playthings

#4 – Small Unit Blocks

Small Unit Blocks - An Everyday Story These beautiful wooden blocks are proportional in size, meaning – wholes, halves and quarters – which allows for symmetrical design and construction.

As well as the proportional blocks, a set of Small Unit Blocks typically comes with arches, columns, semi-circles, rounds and triangles. Many of these are also proportional – two semi-circles are the same size as one round and two rounds placed on top of each other are the size of one column.

There are a couple sets of Small Unit Blocks which you can have a look at. Check out these ones from Plan Toys. Or if you are in Australia, Modern Teaching Aids have a beautiful set.

Best Blocks for Kids - Unit Blocks - An Everyday Story#3 – Unit Blocks

Best Blocks for Children - Unit BlocksThese huge blocks are fantastic and they definitely make my Top 3 best blocks. They are beautifully made and are really high quality. The size of the blocks inspire the kids to build big; big houses, long roads and tall buildings. Jack & Sarah incorporate other blocks, scarves and figurines to make vast play scenes. They are incredible.

There are a few different sets to check out. Have a look around online sellers for a second-hand set. They are pretty hard to come by but you might get lucky. If you’re in Australia, I got our set from Modern Teaching Aids. Otherwise these sets from Melissa & Doug and Constructive Playthings look similar.

This set from Carolina Pratt Unit Blocks were also highly recommended to me – they are a little pricier but the quality looks amazing.

STEM Activities with Blocks - An Everyday Story

#2 – Generic Jenga Blocks

Best Blocks for Children - Jenga BlocksThese awesome little blocks almost topped my list of the Best Blocks for Kids coming in at #2. These simple, uniformly-shaped blocks make for some serious construction.

Plus, at only $5 a tin at K-mart, you really can’t pass them up. If you’re looking for a little colour, you can also try dyeing them easily with liquid watercolours.

and Number 1 on my list…..

Top Ten Blocks for Children: What are the best blocks for kids? In this post you will see ten of the best wooden blocks for children as well as where to buy

#1 – Planks

Best Blocks for Kids - Planks#1 on my list of the Top 10 Blocks for Play-based Learning goes to…. planks

Just like the generic Jenga blocks, these awesomely simple planks allow a child to build really complex constructions; opening up a whole world of creativity. Planks are so incredibly versatile; children of all ages will love them.

Every plank (in a set) is exactly the same which means you can build almost artwork-like structures from them. We love planks!

There’s a few sets around. We have a set of 50 Rolka blocks as well as a set of these much larger Wooden Building Planks. Outside of Australia, you can also get the very popular Keva Planks and I saw recently that IKEA have a range too (although they are not available online and don’t seem to be available in Australia either).

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So, these are my Top 10 Blocks for Play-based Learning. What do you think? Which blocks are a favourite at your place?

What would you put on the top of your list?

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12 comments on “Top 10 Blocks for Play-based Learning”

  1. Jenni | Dancing in the Rain

    Fabulous list! You know, I saw some plank blocks in Aldi the other day but figured I could make my own as I recently dismantled a wardrobe that had slats (of course, I am still yet to do this…!)

    Thank you for the inspiration, my son has just recently moved from building towers and roads to more ‘intricate’ buildings/towns. It’s lovely to watch.

    • Kate

      Really? There were planks at Aldi?! I must have missed them. Planks are really incredible. Jack found them a little frustrating at first because they are a bit thinner than the generic Jenga blocks that he was used to but once he got the hang of them, his creativity just soared!!

  2. Arden Rembert Brink

    We really love the colored tiles, somewhat like the ones you recommended in #7 and #5, but they’re flat with magnets built into the corners so they stick together as you build. Our granddaughter started in with them at around 3-1/2 (this past Christmas) and still absolutely loves them. We want to get more so that she can build bigger things! She’s learned to make really complex structures and is happy to play with them both by herself or with others. (I wrote about them in more detail here if anyone is interested: http://the-grandma-blog.com/love-these-products/so-cool-magnetic-tiles/ )

  3. Rachel

    Great list, Kate!

    For readers in the US who want really quality Unit Blocks, try Barclay Woods. (As high quality as Carolina Pratt, I believe, but you have more buying options.) You can buy sets “Premium,” which means, without any marks on the wood (likes knots), or “Firsts and Seconds,” which are less expensive, but just as great quality. We haven’t bought ours yet, since I need to pinch some more pennies, but they come highly recommended. You may also purchase the wood from them to make your own blocks. I decided I didn’t want to get a cheaper set, like Melissa and Doug, because those blocks are made of rubberwood, not maple. I saw reviews for Melissa and Doug that complained if a child put a block in their mouth, it started to crumble. (I am having another baby soon, so I didn’t want to have to worry about that.) Here’s a link to their site: http://www.barclaywoods.com/wooden_blocks_standard.htm

  4. liz

    When I was looking for plank blocks available in the US, I came across CitiBlocs on Amazon. They were affordable and looked good so I bought two sets of 100 in the cool and warm colors. We LOVE them! The are very well made. (And it looks like they are on sale right now for those interested).

    Thanks for this list! I think we need a few of these.

    • Cristina

      My 5 year old just got citibloks for his bday! So far he has patterned with them and our 3 year old girl has made 2-d designs. ( flowers etc..) He’s only had them a week and hasn’t made a lot of structures yet, but my hubs and I have! They are so fun!

  5. Sierra

    Not technically a block, but my son, and his friends, love building with magnetic tiles (Magnatiles or a generic knock off). In fact, the whole family loves them. I got my husband his own set because we were running out of tiles for the more complex structures. Thanks for your post. I’m going to try re-working our block area to see if I can trigger my sons interest in his wooden blocks.

  6. Katja

    Hi!
    I really like your posts. Can anyone give me a piece of advice on building with blocks and other complex play that is not being cleared away by the end of the day:
    I have 4,5 y.o and a 1,2 y.o. My older daughter has never been into building apart from occasionally building road for her train set with my help. We have all sorts of blocks, home-made ones (sawed sticks, bits of floorboards and architraves with interesting lengths and corners etc) and store-bought, salvaged from charity shops, magnetic tiles etc. I keep trying to build with her, but at most it lasts an hour and only if I am playing. But my biggest challenge now (just when I think I started to get through to her) is the younger daughter – she is always around apart from 1 hour in the evening (goes to bed earlier) and she would not let anything to be built – even one block on the top of another is inviting her to knock it down. It is natural in younger children but very frustration when trying to work on something with older one, especially for the older one – she gets in a huff, and me too. If we manage to build something in the little time that little one is not with us and older daughter gets really into it and plays with it – she is heartbroken to discover it all broken the next day. that goes for all time-consuming and meaningful activities/play of the older one really. How do you deal with it? Your constructions live to see another day judging from the pictures or at least long enough to be played with. Older daughter would not engage with anything like it if I am not there, so it’s out of question of distracting toddler in the other room while she plays
    thanks a lot

  7. Kristin Brown

    I was curious to know what types of blocks my husband brought home today from an old church childrend room. I know they are sorta old but until i know what they are used for, I dont have the creative mind to think about how to use them. Please help me if you can #) thansj1

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