What’s The One Toy Every Child Should Have?

When it comes to a child’s cognitive and physical development, they actually need far fewer toys and tools than you think! In this article, we’ll look at the one toy the National Association for the Education of Young Children believes every classroom should have.

kids playing with blocks

If we told you that a simple set of blocks can enhance your child’s development more than almost any other toy on the market, would you be surprised?

Well, there’s a ton of research that highlights the amazing developmental benefits of block play and the National Association for the Education of Young Children believes that every classroom should have a set.

In this article, we’ll go over:

  • The benefits of block play
  • How parents can enhance children’s block play
  • Chemicals to avoid in kids toys
  • The best block sets for children

Scroll down to learn more:

 

Developmental Benefits of Block Play

Blocks have been shown to help children develop their:

  • Gross and fine motor skills
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Imagination
  • Creativity
  • Language and literacy skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Spatial reasoning
  • Mathematical skills
  • Cognitive flexibility (quickly shifting your focus from one concept to another)
  • Scientific reasoning
  • Social skills
  • Self-esteem and self-expression

While young children will benefit from having an adult demonstrate how to use blocks and engage in building with them, toddlers and older children will reap more developmental rewards if they’re left to engage in free play with their blocks.

 

How Parents Can Help Enhance Children’s Block Play

Parents can enhance their children’s block play by:

  • Asking open-ended questions such as, “What do you think would happen if you removed this block?”
  • Inviting them to create stories around their constructions.
  • Encouraging them to keep trying if their projects don’t turn out as they’d planned.

Depending on the block set, parents can also use blocks to help teach counting, color and shape recognition, and pattern making.

 

Chemicals to avoid in kids toys

At The Tot, we never use or recommend anything that hasn’t passed The Tot Test. This means we’ve looked deep into third-party testing, examined ingredients lists and asked in-depth questions about a product’s composition to ensure it’s free of the chemicals we avoid.

When it comes to kids toys, and in particular blocks, we look for things that are:

  • Free of BPA + BPS
  • Free of Harmful Phthalates
  • Free of PVC
  • Free of heavy metals
  • Made with water-based paints
  • Either formaldehyde-free or ‘No Added Formaldehyde’

Click here to view the full list of ingredients we avoid and why.

 

The Best Block Sets for Children

All Tot Tested and approved, here are our favorite block sets for children!

 

Lily & River Little Stackables

 

Lily & River Little Stackables

 

The Lily & Rivers Little Stackables block set is a fun way to learn shapes and colors all while honing hand-eye coordination and having fun. Made from premium, FSC-certified hardwood, they’re great for both independent and social play.

 

Lily & River Little Stackables

 

Lily & River Little Stackables

 

$49.95

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Babai Creative Balancer

 

Babai Creative Balancer

 

Made from FSC-certified Birch plywood, Babai’s Creative Balancer sets can be used in a variety of ways to encourage problem-solving, critical thinking and the development of fine motor skills. You can use them as blocks, a balancer, as mosaic tiles, or even a “guess what” game!

Babai Creative Balancer

Babai Creative Balancer

 

$41.99

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Babai Creative Balancer

Babai Creative Balancer – Natural

 

$39.99

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Raduga Grez Mountains Building Blocks 

 

Ethically made in Russia of sustainably sourced solid lime wood, this 34 piece block set is finished with non-toxic water-based paints and is free from glue and lacquer. Fun for classic block play, it can also be used as a puzzle or scene for imaginative play with small dolls!

 

Raduga Grez Mountains Building Blocks

Raduga Grez Mountains Building Blocks

 

$125

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Raduga Grez Pastel Earth Cube Set

 

Another great block set from Raduga Grez is their Past Earth Cube Set. Designed with muted colors, it can be used to teach patterns, counting, matching and more.

 

Raduga Grez Earth Pastel Cube Set

 

Raduga Grez Pastel Earth Cube Set

 

$40

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Raduga Grez Shapes Building Blocks

 

Raduga Grez Shapes Building Blocks

 

The Raduga Grez Shapes Building Blocks Set offer kids even more ways to play! From creating obstacle courses to setting the scene for small world play, they’re a must-have for open-ended play time!

 

Raduga Grez Shapes Building Blocks

 

Raduga Grez Shapes Building Blocks

 

$90

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Modern Blocks Numbers Counting Blocks

 

Made in the USA of untreated wood, Modern Blocks’ unique sets are hand painted with non-toxic, organic paint and finished with an organic wax polish. Featuring high contrast numbers, shapes and letters, they’re fantastic sets to help strengthen eyesight and encourage early literacy and numeracy skills.

Modern Blocks Numbers

 

Modern Blocks Numbers Counting Set

 

$65

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Modern Blocks Counting Shapes and Alphabet Set

 

Modern Blocks Counting, Shapes & Alphabet Set

 

$65

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Guidecraft Stackers River Stones

 

Guidecraft Wood Stacker River Stone

 

Made from super smooth FSC certified wood, these soft and stackable river stones allow children to construct nature-inspired structures for hours on end! Tot Tip: Trying playing with them in sand!

 

Guidecraft Wood Stacker River Stone

 

 

Guidecraft Stackers River Stones

 

$39.95

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Rock Blocks – Valencia Set of 16

 

Rock Blocks changed the game of block play when they came up with their abstract rock-shaped blocks! Available in different colors, these sets really challenge kids to think outside the box!

Rock Blocks Valencia Set of 16

Rock Blocks – Valencia Set of 16

 

$57.99

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Rock Blocks Frosty Set of 16

Rock Blocks – Frosty Set of 16

 

$57.99

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Guidecraft Wooden Rainbow Blocks

 

Guidecraft Rainbow Blocks

 

Designed with frames made from FSC-certified wood and transparent primary-colors acrylic windows, these unique blocks help develop hand-eye coordination, visual perception, and color recognition

 

Guidecraft Rainbow Blocks

 

Guidecraft Wooden Rainbow Blocks

 

$79.95

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Guidecraft Jr Wooden Rainbow Blocks – 20 Piece

 

Guidecraft Jr Wooden Rainbow Blocks – 20 Pieces

 

$35.95

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Q Toys Rainbow Blocks

 

Q Toys Rainbow Blocks

 

Q Toys Rainbow Blocks do triple time as blocks, a puzzle and even as a stencil! Fun for creating both 2D and 3D designs, they’re made from solid, sustainably-sourced plantation timber and finished with non-toxic paint.

 

 

Q Toys Rainbow Blocks

 

Q Toys Rainbow Blocks

 

$69.99

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Guidecraft Wooden Hollow Blocks

 

Guidecraft Wooden Blocks

 

Guidecraft’s Wooden Hollow Block Sets take block play to the next level – literally! With sets available for both indoor and out, kids can imagine and build structures for imaginative play and more!

 

Guidecraft Hollow Blocks

 

Guidecraft Wooden Hollow Blocks

 

$199.95

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Guidecraft Outdoor Hollow Blocks

 

Guidecraft Outdoor Wooden Hollow Blocks

 

$999.95

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Continue exploring

 

  • As advocates of play-based learning, we’ve teamed up with expert early learning educators to create sets consisting of the toys and activities you need to help your tot reach developmental milestones, learn important life skills and build the confidence needed to enter a formal learning environment. Perfect for newborns up to Age 6, The Tot Play & Learn Sets are the screen-free educational tool you’ve been looking for.
  • What We’re Reading: 7 Things That Gardening Teaches Kids