Toddlers and pre-schoolers are very curious little people. They want to touch and explore everything. Toddlerhood is the period where putting toys in their mouth is typical. This is the very reason why building blocks for toddlers and pre-schoolers are made to be large in size, to prevent choking. Also, they are just starting to control their hands and their whole body. Large building blocks make it easy for their tiny hands to hold on.
Toddlers are typically making stacks of building blocks, just stacking one block on top of the other block. As they develop their motor skills in the pre-schooler stage, they learn to build more complex shapes, maybe a fence-like structure or a basic building structure. The bright colors of the building blocks also entice toddlers to explore them and play with them for hours. They used to be just simple block shapes, but now, building blocks for kids come in a variety of shapes and colors in an unimaginable wide array of themes like Cartoon Characters, Dinosaurs, Construction sites, Super Heroes, Play structures, and a whole lot more! Aside from Lego products, there are available blocks alternatives made out of totally different materials, like magnets and bristles!
Our 2-year old son, Adriel, loves stacking Lego Blocks one on top of each other up to a height as tall as him! At times he is so protective and very proud of his creation and would guard it against his elder brother from tumbling it down. Sometimes he would just knock his creation down and giggle and scream as the blocks spread all over the floor. He also loves reading the letters inscribed on each block. This is a great way of exposing him to learn the alphabets in a fun way.
See related article about the Benefits of playing building blocks for kids.
Below are my best pick for toddlers and pre-schoolers building blocks and block alternatives:
Lego Duplo My First Train features a buildable train and three wagons. Toddlers are fascinated with trains where they can pretend play to driving it. It also includes a boy, a girl, and a cat figure to make the pretend-play more fun!
Each block is colorful and decorated with numbers 0 to 9 that serve as visuals to learn their numbers while playing with this easy-to-build train.
- Has several features & functionalities that help toddlers to be creative
- Educational toys – helps learn numbers
- Durable, good quality, fun design
- Can be additional pieces to other Lego Duplo sets
- Can easily be cleaned using a dishwasher or just plain soap and water
- Wagon cars can easily be detached to each other, possibility of snapping off hinges that connects cars.
Lego Duplo My First Cars and Trucks offers a fantastic role-playing mood with a driving theme! It features 3 wheelbases, crane, assorted vehicle-themed decorated LEGO Duplo bricks, decorated bricks with different windows, drivers and passengers, traffic light and a water refilling station. It comes with Building Cards to spark some ideas of creating the wheelbases either as 3 separate cars or a big tow truck towing another car or a fire truck or a construction truck or an 8-wheeler truck. Kids’ imaginations are limitless
- Helps develop toddlers and pre-schoolers’ hand-eye coordination and encourage building and creative role play
- Specially designed to be fun and easy for little hands
- Durable, Good quality blocks with assorted shapes and designs
- Has good fit from block to block
- May still be complicated for 1½ year old. Best for 3 to 5-year-olds
Bristle Blocks by Battat offer good alternative to Lego blocks. These has been around for several years but has not gained much popularity compared to Lego products. Unlike the conventional Lego blocks that can only stack up on each block, Bristle blocks offers more imaginative play by being able to stick the blocks together at any angle through the soft, BPA-free, interlocking bristles. This basic set is recommended for 2 years old and up. It includes 112 pieces in different colors, shapes and sizes. It also includes 8 functional wheels to have an option of building vehicles or just any moving object as part of the play.
- Helps develop toddlers and pre-schoolers’ hand-eye coordination and stimulate creative play and imaginations
- Blocks are easy to connect and press together
- Good size, easy to store
- Cheaper prized than Lego products
- The blocks in this set are compatible with other bristle block sets, like Battat Spinaroo and Stackadoo
- Wheels can be unusable after being stripped down to pieces
- Minor issue with symmetry, the bristles do not align perfectly creating a bit off structure
- Spiky bristles hurt when accidentally stepped on them (Just like any other toys!)
Magnetic toys has been gaining popularity in the market. VCanny Magnetic Blocks or Tiles are yet another alternative to the conventional Lego Blocks. They are designed for 3+ years old kids.
This set includes 1 magnetic car, 1 idea booklet and 60 pieces magnetic tiles in different colors and shapes (triangles, squares, rectangles, four/two lattice windows, hole doors, arch doors, H-shapes, L-shapes). Vcanny boasts of the opportunity of learning about magnetic polarities and architectural designs at an early age on top of learning the more basic concepts of colors and shapes.
- Promotes kids’ brain development, creativity, and hands-on ability by building a variety of models
- Made up of lightweight yet durable, resistant to wear non-toxic ABS plastic food-grade material
- Each tile have a smooth edge, designed for kids
- Easy to construct 3D designs using strong magnets
- Easy to put away, takes up small space
- Easy on the feet, won’t hurt if stepped on accidentally
- More expensive than other building blocks products
Which one do you think your toddler or your pre-schooler would like? Share your thoughts below! 🙂