January 4th, 2011

Melissa & Doug 60-Piece Standard Unit Blocks

Manufacturer’s recommended age: 3 and up

We have a problem at our house: Crap Overload. Every Christmas or birthday, the problem gets worse.  Considerably worse. If plastic were a toxin, we’d all be dead.

So, when trying to find a Christmas present for Luke this year, I shrank in horror from anything that  might add to The Crap. I mean, really, do we really need any more toys?

I decided to go retro-simple and chose these Melissa and Doug wooden blocks. Yes, the fact that there were 60 of them gave me pause (since those are 60 items that would need to be cleaned up and stored by me), but I loved the idea of having a basic, no-batteries-required, creativity-stimulating toy. (Please! No more batteries! I can’t take any more batteries!)

The blocks are “standard unit” meaning that all the blocks are a multiple or fraction of a standard “unit.” So, while kids play and build, they are hopefully also absorbing math concepts like length, volume, fractions, etc.  Shapes include varying sizes of rectangles, squares, triangles, columns, quarter-circles and similar. The blocks come in a wooden crate for storage.

Watching Luke trying to open the wrapped present was hilarious. The box was quite heavy for a 3-year-old (who am I kidding, I can barely move it), and he made a face akin to a constipated Powerlifter while trying to move the thing. When he opened it though, it was like magic. He immediately dove into the set, wanting to build and create right away. In fact, 5-year-old Elise abandoned her new Princess purse to play with the set too. They were completely absorbed. Very satisfying for me Santa.

The blocks are all sanded to be smooth to the touch and with rounded corners so no one gets an eye poked out. They are of fantastic quality, made of hardwood. Classic joy!

The set retails for around $60, although you can find it on sale for $50 or less.

Overall, super-satisfied with this set of blocks, despite the net entropy gain.

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This Weeks Tip

With the advent of chewables and liquids, many of us forget that, at some point in their lives, our children WILL need to know how to swallow a pill. Better to learn young, as the gag reflex only gets stronger with age. One pediatrician suggests starting at age 4 and making a game of it… using a supply of TicTacs and their favorite drink. Have them put the TicTac way at the back of their tongue and then GULP!