Many parents know that Kindergarten and
Preschool teachers favor blocks as an educational toy and that many states
mandate by law their inclusion in classrooms and daycare centers.
Oddly, they may believe that this refers to ABC Blocks and Alphabet Blocks,
but this is not so. The blocks that are useful to young children and
demanded as educational toys are Unit Building Blocks like those sold here. This is not to say that
Alphabet Blocks are a bad thing - I love them - but the Kindergarten
Curriculum that specifies "blocks" refers to Building Blocks because their
modular properties teach important lessons about mathematics.
How Many Blocks and what shapes does a Child need?
Rule of thumb - we think that a child of 5 years or
older needs about 200 blocks, and a bright six year old can easily use
more. Two children need a smaller number per child (maybe 125), and
children less than 5 need a smaller number (Maybe 100). A classroom with
ten children can work with 750 blocks. But no matter how many blocks you
buy, your children will run out of blocks - run out of some shapes sooner
than others, and go through periods when they are employing a lot of one
shape, and other periods when employing a different shape. Building
aqueducts requires a lot of arches. Building buildings requires a lot of
rectangles. Building the Lincoln Memorial requires a lot of columns. The
only way to handle this dilemma is to buy a foundation set and add to it
over time as you observe your children running out of this or that. We sell
open stock and booster kits for this purpose, and there is little need to
buy all of your blocks at one time.
Kits for the Individual Family
Buying Kits for your family is different than buying
kits for schools: the blocks are identical, but the range and composition
of shapes is different. Children will begin to play with toy unit blocks
from around the age of 3 years and will continue to do so until they are 10
or 11 years old. Obviously, the shapes required become more extensive as
the child matures, and considerably more varied than those required in
schools. School kits are too primitive for home play by a eight year old.
In order to build the stuff that will engage a third grader - a wide range
is necessary to make complicated structures. Children play with blocks
for a very extended period of time, and a good set of blocks will last for
many generations. They are virtually indestructible, and we see sets of
blocks that are fifty years old and older.
Kits for Schools
Buying kits for schools is a simpler proposition. For
one thing, these are primarily used in pre-school, kindergarten, and first
grade. Many of the authors, teachers, and other authorities on Block Play
are focused on these younger children, and while the sets they recommend are
quite large, the range of shapes is narrow. This is because younger
children are not ready to build anything recognizable and don't have the
coordination to construct buildings. Instead, they are
learning very complicated things about shapes and their relationships. This
problem is self-fulfilling: teachers note that older children lose interest
- but this is because the block sets they employ are too primitive for an
older child. (We do wish that some teacher would try to pitch a book more
at third and fourth graders - but alas, this is not the case). Our school
kits are made with certain text references in mind as these often include
recommendations about an appropriate set for classroom use. We are always
ready to contemplate a new school set if your school or district has a
specific requirement. We also sell bulk boxes of certain shapes in order to
boost your current inventory.