Sometimes the simplest toys are the most fun. This is true with one of our family's favorite toys, basic cardboard building blocks. I think these have been around forever, I remember playing with similar blocks waaay back when I was in preschool and kindergarten, and they are still in early childhood classrooms today.
We've owned our cardboard blocks for about two years now, and they have been the most played with blocks in our house. (We have three sets, the cardboard blocks, a set of very fine wooden unit blocks, and a set of wooden ABC cubes. I should probably also mention plastic peek-a-blocks, although those are separate in my mind as baby toys vs. building toys.)
What I like about our cardboard blocks:
- They are lightweight, I do not have to worry about anyone getting hurt when they topple over
- The boys are pretty good about cleaning up the large cardboard blocks -- we keep them in a not-so-attractive but very functional LARGE cardboard shipping box that sits in our living room. Clean up is often a game of toss-the-block-in-the-box. It's fun.
- Everybody can play with them. The 5-year-old, 3 year-old and 1 year-old all play and everybody loves it. Dad and I play too, and we have a good time.
- They are not made of plastic. Our family has many plastic toys, but it's nice to have something fun that's not plastic in the mix.
- They are sturdy. They have been thrown, stepped on, kicked down and knocked over many, many times, and are still in good shape despite our rough handling.
What I don't like about our cardboard blocks:
- They were spendy. Daddy purchased ours at a learning boutique store, and I remember saying -- you spent what on a bunch of cardboard?? cardboard??? The blocks come packed flat, and so it's very clear that what you have purchased is really not all that much in terms of material. Thankfully, the delightful experience of building big structures and the enduring play value of the blocks has made it seem like it was a good purchase vs. some of our other toys that have not gotten nearly as much use. (Frugal tip: a fun free alternative to purchasing cardboard blocks is to save up a lot of cardboard shoe boxes and let the kids play with them. This is what the boys' grandma has done, I walked into her house one day to an enormous tower of shoe boxes and it was also delightful. Grandmas are so smart!)
- Storage. They take up a little room, so it may be useful to have a place in mind for keeping them. I am OK with a big shipping box full of cardboard blocks in the living room. These could fit in a closet if I were more organized.
What the kids love about the cardboard blocks:
- They are large (comparatively). It does not take stacking many of the largest red blocks before my 3 year-old has a tower taller than he is, and that is just cool.
- They are open-ended, and the boys get to be creative with them. We love building walls, and towers, and caves, we enjoy walling off a corner of the living room for a fort (and using the large storage box and couch cushions as additional building materials), we build statues... Most recently the boys have gotten into karate-chopping the blocks and kicking the blocks, which is a little rough on them, but it's been loads of fun.
I'm happy to share that these simple blocks are some of our favorite toys and recommend them for families with toddlers and preschoolers.
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