How to buy bricks and blocks
A toy brick buying guide
Bricks and blocks offer entertainment and imaginative play for children of all ages. When deciding how to buy bricks, it is important to consider the age of the user, the different types of bricks available and the materials the bricks are made of. The packaging of the bricks and available accessories also play a role in the decision-making process. Bricks provide numerous learning advantages to young builders, which is why they are a popular choice in early childhood development toys. With so many different styles of bricks available today, you're sure to find a set that covers all the bases for your budding architect.
>> Consider the purpose
For years, teachers and parents have been using building bricks to help children explore their creativity and exercise their motor skills. Few toys offer the simple yet broad range of teaching opportunities that bricks do. Children begin by touching, feeling and learning the different shapes and colors of the bricks. Then they begin learning how pieces fit together and, as they grow, they learn to build structures and the effects of gravity and simple physics.
Whether at home or school, brick sets encourage interaction with other children and can be a good starting point for adults to initiate learning with children.
Creative brick play increases a child's spatial reasoning and understanding of how parts come together to make a whole. Children who learn with bricks sets also show increased social, mathematical and reasoning skills, in addition to an overall sense of accomplishment and pride in their coordination skills and in the structures and vehicles they build.
>> Consider the age of the user
When learning how to buy bricks, it is important to consider the age of the user. For instance, younger children will enjoy certain brick features and brick benefits that may not appeal as much to older children, and vice versa. Brick styles are offered in different sets for infant-aged children, toddlers and kids who are 5-7 years old, 8-11 years old and 12 and up.
>> Consider the type
When learning how to buy bricks, it is important to also consider the type of bricks and the size of bricks. For baby activities and toys, the brick features should include large sized pieces for safety, segments that are easy to take apart and put back together and bright colors to inspire creativity. As children grow, they can learn to safely use brick sizes that are smaller and require more advanced ability to assemble in order to inspire critical and creative thinking skills.
Some companies make jumbo cardboard brick sets that are large enough and safe enough for children of all ages to build small structures to play in, such as a fort. These jumbo bricks can be stored by stacking them or they can be unfolded and stored flat.
>> Consider the materials
When learning how to choose the correct types of blocks, consider the type of material with which they are constructed. This is an important step to be aware of when making a purchase. Some materials are safer for older age groups while others are safe for all age groups. It is also important to view information on the packaging regarding potential choking hazards for younger brick users who are just learning.
For younger children, bricks are often made of softer material such as cotton fabric or foam to protect young builders should they step on a brick or put one in their mouth. These soft bricks are good not only for building but also for teaching about different textures and density. Fabric blocks are also easy to clean by hand or in the washing machine.
For building sets and blocks for older children, bricks may be made of wood or plastic in order to teach basic construction principles. Some sets for older children are also made of foam or softer, permeable material.
>> Consider themed sets and kits
When deciding what kind of toy bricks to purchase, be aware that they are often sold in sets or kits. By purchasing a themed set of bricks, you can appeal directly to a child's specific interests. For instance, there are sets that, when put together, create a Barbie playhouse. Other sets allow children to create items from a favorite movie, like their own Star Wars jet, or items from real life that they admire, like a police car or fire engine.
Blocks can also come in sets with numbers and letters for creative play and learning. There are also block sets designed specifically for learning texture, pattern and sensory play.
>> Consider packaging
When learning how to buy bricks, consider the types of packaging the bricks come in. Most brick sets come packaged within a plastic crate, box or bag that can also be used to store the bricks between pay periods. Some of the packaging also provides its own carry strap to make the bricks more portable.
Many playsets include bricks that are meant to be stored in the packaging they are purchased in, which is both convenient and functional. In some cases, the storage portion of the sets can be customized so that children can tell theirs apart from a sibling's or friend's set.
>> Consider accessories
When choosing the correct type of bricks for your child, consider the many accessory options to complement the brick sets. Some brick sets come with a table that is specially designed to be able to attach blocks directly to it in order to build little cities with roads and buildings. These tables also allow for multiple children to play at once, which enables them to learn sharing and teamwork skills.
Some brands produce multiple interrelated sets that can be combined to create imaginary and sometimes real settings, characters, machinery and monsters for older children. There are also sets that you can build upon gradually as children get older and develop a wider range of interests.
No matter what your child's age or interests, there's a building brick set out there for him or her. With just a little bit of research, finding the right bricks can be a fun and rewarding experience.