In the past few months, BB has really become interested in building with blocks. Now that he’s 28 months old, he has developed better hand-eye coordination for stacking, more patience for sitting down and creating structures, and he enjoys naming shapes and experimenting with how they fit together. All of the adults in his life enjoy this new passion because blocks are fun to play with, no matter what your age is, and it’s an excuse to sit down on the floor for some quiet time together.
The first set of building blocks that BB really got interested in is his set of Magnatiles. These colorful, geometric tiles have magnets hidden along this inside edges, so you can stack them together and create all kinds of 2D and 3D creations. We had a set on the light table at OMSI, which was visually attractive and a huge hit with kids of all ages. Since they were so heavily loved, we washed our Magnatiles sets in the dishwasher frequently (secured in a mesh wash bag, making sure not to heat dry) and we were always on the lookout for cracked or broken pieces, as we did not want tiny magnets to be swallowed by children.
Even without the added fun of a light table, BB probably spends over an hour a day playing with his tiles. Because they are held together with magnets, Magnatiles are a great beginners builder set, helping toddlers learn the principles of block building with a little helpful magnetism. Another thing that I appreciate about Magnatiles is that they’re super easy to clean up, since they stick together, so I just stack all the like pieces together and call it good.
2. Wooden Floor Blocks
Now that he has mastered the art of building with Magnatiles, I knew he would enjoy building with wooden blocks from Lakeshore Learning. It took a couple of days for him to warm up to them, as they are a little trickier than Magnatiles, and one small bump can send the whole creation toppling down.
In preparation for the inevitable tears that can come with a toppled creation, I started enthusiastically cheering “WE MUST REBUILD!” in a very silly voice, whenever we had a collapse. This has helped to lighten the mood and keep our play moving forward. Yesterday, we were working on building a castle and BB’s knee sent it crashing down, to which BB cheered “Teacher Alison, we must REBUILD!”
Even though he’s only had his set for a couple of weeks, it’s quickly become one of his go-to activities. At $130 a set, this was definitely a toy investment, but so far, it’s proving that it was worth every penny!
We keep this small, hand-me-down set of MegaBloks in a box in the kitchen, for BB to play with on the floor while I’m cooking or unloading the dishwasher. They’re large enough that I don’t worry about his safety when using them, and light enough that he can build all by himself, without needing my help to pull them apart, like some building blocks. Because it’s not a complete set, it doesn’t occupy his attention for too long (maybe 15 minutes max) but it’s always enough time for me to finish what I’m doing in the kitchen. At the risk of having way too many block sets, I’d like to invest in an expansion pack to hopefully extend BB’s interest in this free play activity.
What are your toddler’s favorite building sets? How does your child stay occupied while you’re in the kitchen? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section!