contains affiliate/sponsored links
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? 🙂
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.
Ok, here goes…
#10 – Interlocking Wooden Blocks
These 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.
#9 – Classic Building Blocks
A 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.
#8 – Tree Blocks
Tree 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
The 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.
#6 – Mirror Blocks
Mirrors 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.
#5 – Coloured Window Blocks
When 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.
#4 – Small Unit Blocks
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.
#3 – Unit Blocks
These 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.
#2 – Generic Jenga Blocks
These 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…..
#1 – 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).
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?