Yippeeee! It’s summer vacation! Now that my kids are home from school, they have had more time to play. No matter their age, the traditional wooden building block toys are the ones that sustain play for hours and days. Given their enthusiasm for building drum sets, houses, airplanes, spaceships, etc., I was inspired to write this list of the most popular wooden building block toys in our home that inspire open-ended, creative play.
1. Contina Blocks
Contina blocks are similar to Kapla blocks, in that they are more like planks than standard unit blocks; however, Contina blocks are made from sustainable bamboo. These planks come in eight different natural colored finishes and can be combined to build many structures, given that you get 100 blocks in a set. You can stack them or line them up, and I am not sure if Eco Dad or my children had more fun when we first opened our Contina blocks.
I’ve always wanted to make my own tree branch blocks, but it is one of those projects I have never gotten around too. When we opened our set, my daughter exclaimed, “Cool toy, Mom”, “Cool blocks”, “Look what I made”, and “How did they make the blocks so smooth?” She observed that the blocks are not all the same size, which makes children use their brains to create organic structures not possible with standard unit blocks. She also asked me what they were made from, and I guessed wrongly birch. They are actually made from “Kiln dried locally sourced Alder. 14 pc. with Harmonic wax finish”, and the bag they come in is made from “locally made natural cotton”. Perhaps this tree branch set will inspire us to make our own to add to the collection.
Every child deserves a good set of Standard Unit Blocks! Blocks are perhaps the quintessential toy for child development. Creative play and imagination abound when playing with natural toy blocks. If you buy your child a toy car, the toy car is always a car. If you give your child blocks, a block can be a car, a train, a telephone, a bed, etc. The only limits are your child’s imagination.
These wooden blocks may be the most limiting of the bunch, but they sure are fun! My kids make some great cabins, barns, fences, garages, etc. out of their Lincoln Logs. Their constructive quality leads to integration with many other toys, which inspires open-ended dramatic doll and truck play in my home. There’s a lot of different shaped building you can build with this classic toy.
This is probably the least eco-friendly building toy on the list, as there are a lot of plastic accessories and connectors, but my kids have really been getting into them lately. As a child, I was personally deprived of owning Tinkertoys, as well as a Green Machine, and I remember loving to play with my great aunt’s set, as well as her roulette wheel. You can build amazing things with Tinkertoys. Currently, my house is adorned with a drum set on wheels my kids have been playing with and modifying for days.
One thing these blocks all have in common, beside being made of wood, is they are often scattered all over the house! A good basket is key for storing toys; smaller ones better for sorting them by type. Another great thing about these blocks is they are not limited to play by themselves, but they are combined by my kids to form some amazing structures! These blocks inspire creative, open-ended, cooperative play in my home. I hope you see similar results!