When you ask a child what they would like for Hannukah or Christmas chances are they are going to tell you something (or a lot of things) technology-related. What's that -- your kids don't say, "What I'd really love is a gift that is educational??" Oh, shock and horror. Don't tell them I told you, but I know of an amazing gift that is educational and they won't even know that they are learning. It's that old-fashioned gift called wooden building blocks. The benefits are many.
- encourage creative play and social interactions
- spur your child's imagination (and yours!)
- sharpen fine motor skills
- teach patterning, physics and pre-geometry
- increase spatial awareness
- promote higher reasoning and math skills
Those are the educational benefits -- but for me, it's the parent perks that make the difference. I would choose building with blocks over playing a video game with my kids any day of the week. The other wonderful thing about blocks is their shelf life or relevancy in your home. You can buy wooden blocks for a toddler and they will still take them out and play with them 8 years later. There are not many gifts you can say that about.
Hands down, the favorite blocks in our house are Kapla blocks (see photo). I cannot say enough good things about these uniform wooden planks. They fall into to the category of so simple it's brilliant. My kids spent hours with these blocks; building things from the instruction booklet, making up their own elaborate creations and making complicated "domino" courses. There was a time when we had as many photos of Kapla creations as we did of our family. The pride my kids felt for their creations spoke volumes. My kids are in high school now but we still have the Kaplas handy for when our friends with younger kids come to our house.
What are your kids asking for this holiday season? Do you have an educational gift that you are excited to give your kids?