Plastic vs. Wood Toys – Block Play

incidental learning - learning as they go - nano series - construction - play - learning - language - communication - maths - numeracy - fine motor skills - building blocks - colour

Why Choose Plastic?

We don’t have many plastic toys, as a family we are concerned about the level of plastic in our world, I’ve recently written a guest blog post about this here. However, I think it’s important to look at a toys value. I don’t mean the cost (although this is important), I mean what value children will get out of playing with it? How long will it last? Does it have more than one purpose? Is it durable?

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Too often when it comes to plastic toys they fall down on the value questions. Although, there are some that tick all the boxes. Good quality, interlocking building blocks are one of them. Our Mum still has a certain small block, I’m sure you all know well, from when we were children. We’re in our thirties now and it’s still going strong, played with by generations, cherished for its versatility and we can’t wait to introduce it to the next generation.

incidental learning - learning as they go - nano series - construction - play - learning - language - communication - maths - numeracy - fine motor skills - building blocks - colour

Observing Play

Ours lives in a rope storage bag that gets tipped out when we are ready to play. We do have one of those large draw string bags when we want to contain it or take it with us for a speedy tidy up. Our little one, Floss, who is fast approaching 2 years old has just begun to interlock these on her own and is enjoying making her own creations, she also enjoys watching us create and playing with the creations. Observing what other children and adults do helps them develop their fine motor and creative skills. Often children will imitate before being able to make changes and finally create on their own. As you create, narrate what you are doing. Why are you choosing that colour? That shape? Why are you putting that block there? Hearing and seeing your thought process helps them to make sense of the world around them.

incidental learning - learning as they go - nano series - construction - play - learning - language - communication - maths - numeracy - fine motor skills - building blocks - colour

Colour Play

Blocks are great for working on colour. Building rainbows is one of our favourite games. Using the rainbow you can then go around the house and find an object to match with each colour. You could use one cube and find all the objects you can find that are the same. Naming colours and encouraging naming through simple games such as Kim’s Game are lots of fun. If you don’t know this game – Have 2 or 3 blocks, get your child to study them, hid the blocks and take one away. Reveal the blocks and see if they can work out which one is missing. Show them the missing block – what colour is it? Did they say the same?

incidental learning - learning as they go - nano series - construction - play - learning - language - communication - maths - numeracy - fine motor skills - building blocks - colour

Small World

Making small world creatures is something Floss loves to watch and then she will play with them for hours. It won’t be long now before she begins to try and add things or modify what we have made, before starting to make her own. Interlocking blocks are excellent for developing fine motor control and strength in the fingers, hands and arms and their chunkiness enable good grip in small hands. Often the boxes have pictures of ideas to make or cards with ideas on. These are great to keep and use in play. You can take pictures of your own creations and print them so they become your own set of ideas. For older children they could have a go at writing their own set of instructions for someone else to make their creation.

Wheels

Things with wheels are very popular too. The truck is the first thing that Floss ever made herself out of interlocking blocks. We use the truck to see how many bricks we can fit in before they fall out when we move it. If they all stay in we take them out and line them up for us to count. We then try and add one more. You could test out your made vehicles by using a little ramp and measuring how far they travel with a tape measure. Making different vehicles to see what travels further. Why might that be?

What does your family do with interlocking blocks? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.

incidental learning - learning as they go - nano series - construction - play - learning - language - communication - maths - numeracy - fine motor skills - building blocks - colour

Choosing Blocks

I haven’t said which blocks I’ve used purposely as you could use any blocks. Do check the durability of blocks if you intend to purchase – not all blocks are made equal and you want something that is going to last and be passed on to future generations and not end up in landfill or our oceans. 

Here are some of the sets we have:

Building Set

Cars and Trucks

Train

Fun Creations

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