Toy Blocks

Whatever Happened to Real Toys?

When some of today's youngsters were asked by their teacher what their favorite toy was, the unanimous reply was the kind of toy that plugs into the television and has a remote control. The electronic type of toy that requires nothing more of a child than to push a button. These, by the way, were seven-year-old children. The question begging to be asked is: Whatever happened to real toys and games that have no function other than the one the child creates for it? Dolls, toy cars, figurines and toy blocks seem to be designated for babies and toddlers - electronic television games for school-age children.

The comments are not to dismiss the importance of learning the skills necessary to function in the electronic age - where we now find ourselves, but, the fact is that using toy building blocks, or playing with dolls involves the development of critical skills that children need in order to grow in a healthy way. Cooperation, collaboration, and empathy are three of the most important skills taught by tactile toys that require imagination. There are some wonderful educational and learning toys, like Baby Einstein, that have an electronic component in the form of a DVD, and they couple that component with real books and other physical toys to foster learning.

Back to Basics - The Wooden Block

One of the most basic toys, and perhaps one that has been around the longest historically, is toy blocks. Toy wooden blocks have been used to stack, build, and even chew as a teething toy, and have brought endless hours of joy to children from infancy to school age. Toy blocks were initially made of wood, however, plastic toy blocks, fabric covered foam blocks, and soft fabric blocks for infants are now part of the many materials used to make these wonderful building toys.

Lego Is Born

In 1932, Ole Kirk Kristiansen, a Danish carpenter, invented toy building bricks that locked together using brick and knob construction. Nearly 80 years later, LEGO is the top selling building toy in the world, and the world's fifth-largest manufacturer of toys. Lego blocks come in construction sets of all types - from race cars to space ships, from cities to action figures these well-known and much loved plastic toy blocks can be found in the toy boxes of most children. The general age range for these building toys is from four through 12. However, toddlers and preschoolers can enjoy Lego Duplo Basic Bricks which are sturdy, safe, and larger than the regular Lego blocks.

Find The Shape for Little Hands

Another often-seen item of sheer pleasure for little ones is Fisher Price's Brilliant Basics Baby's First Blocks. Excellent for helping to develop hand-eye coordination and other early skills, the blocks are dropped into an open bucket through a lid with the various shapes of the blocks cut into it. Baby drops the blocks through the right holes, the bucket fills up, then the baby can empty it and start again. Babies love this toy and can spend a lot of time playing and laughing as they put the blocks into the holes.

The favorite toy blocks seem to be wooden blocks, and there's no shortage of wooden building block sets available for toddlers and preschoolers today. Melissa and Doug Toy Company have several sets that appeal to children of different ages. The Melissa and Doug Pattern Blocks for Kids are geared for a wide range of ages, depending upon the pattern. The beginner set features ten brightly-painted wooden patterns and 30 colorful shape pieces to create the pictures. They are great for learning colors and shapes and developing matching skills.

Finally, for babies from a year old and up, the Mega Bloks Classic Toy Blocks in a Bag for Kids are big, soft, colorful blocks that come in a sturdy storage bag. These blocks stimulate creativity and learning as tots are encouraged into discovery and open-ended play.

There is no substitution for the creative imagination of a child. Foster that creativity by encouraging play with real toys like toy blocks.

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