Melissa and Doug Blocks Toys Promote Cognitive Development

By: Kanooga

Toy blocks are far from old-fashioned. While they have been a traditional toy for many generations, blocks offer so many benefits that they continue to top wish lists for parents and children alike.

Babies and toddlers often enjoy soft blocks that are easily grasped and land more gently when they tumble. In addition, these stuffed blocks can be mouthed and gnawed without encountering corners and hard edges. However, solid wooden blocks are the most durable and offer years of entertainment. Even infants enjoy touching and holding wooden toys. From about 15 months, many toddlers like small cube-shaped blocks that can be stacked and sorted. Knocking down a tower can be the most fun - try rolling a soft ball for some basic bowling. At this age, toys still need to pass the inedibility test - so make sure you choose blocks that are too large to swallow, with smooth surfaces and non-toxic paint.

For slightly older children, a brand called Melissa and Doug offers a toddler-friendly set of cardboard blocks that stack up to three feet high. They combine different features like nesting, stacking, and have brightly decorated sides.

Blocks toys that feature alphabet letters, numbers, animals, and other shapes have a lot of potential. Starting in the preschool years, they can be used to introduce letter and shape recognition. Later, children enjoy making words as they start to grasp phonics and reading. And even when they are reading fluently, infinite building possibilities remain.

Blocks are available from Melissa and Doug and other brands in various sets depending on a child’s interests. There are blocks in vibrant primary colors, unpainted blocks in architectural sets, and even sets that come complete with a small wagon. Children can make complicated structures with a wide range of shapes and sizes - from turrets and towers to columns and cornices. Young construction experts enjoy creating amazing buildings, car-enthusiasts can make tunnels, roads and garages, and princesses may build castles and towns. The possibilities are endless, and it is this invitation to imaginative play that makes wooden blocks a part of every classroom. Blocks toys can be the building material and the cargo, as well as the people and the animals.

When children play with wooden blocks, they enjoy touching and holding the solid shapes, they learn about balance and gravity, and they can share and cooperate. Block play develops hand-eye coordination, and promotes cognitive learning. Children create things from their imaginations, they learn basic numeracy and understanding of geometric shapes, and they experiment with patterns, weight, and comparisons. Language skills come into play as children explain what they have made and how it works.

For all these reasons, blocks toys are considered one of the best developmental toys. Researchers have found that early creative play with blocks:
• increases spatial skills in preschoolers,
• leads to higher math scores later in high school,
• develops problem-solving skills,
• improves social skills (when building cooperative construction projects), and
• supports language development.

Of course, it’s not just the blocks that provide all these benefits. It is also about how children play with blocks, and who they play with. Sit down and show your young child how to build. Suggest an interesting construction project. Demonstrate how to bring pretend characters into the game. And make it a fun and cooperative game, sometimes including friends. You’ll definitely enjoy it too!

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Joe Kanooga is a father of two kids, a successful business owner and the author of numerous articles about blocks toys. Click here to download our free Melissa and Doug guidebook filled with tips, ideas and information.

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