As you peruse through through all those ads and website showcasing toys for the holidays, you are probably overwhelmed. I know I am. Electronic toys, building toys, stuffed animals, games, etc. Intellectually, we know that our kids do not really need all this variety in toys, but it’s hard to avoid the mass commercialization that screams at us from every direction. Let’s look for a minute at what research has to say about children’s play and toys. This information comes from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), aka the “gold standard” when it comes to guidelines for early education.
What types of toys are best:
1. Simple is best: building blocks, cars, construction vehicles, etc. They may seem simple or boring to adults, but these offer children multiple ways to interact with them, not just a “push a button” and it makes a sound type toy.
2. Things to pretend with: young children just want to be like us. They want to clean, vacuum, wash dishes, take care of babies, etc. Take advantage of this enthusiasm; it won’t last forever. Again, classic toys like dolls, kitchen sets, cups and bowls are ideal for pretend play.
3. Items that promote problem solving: puzzles are an obvious choice, but this could also include blocks that snap together, buttons (for older kids), keys, etc.
You may notice that the one item that is repeated on this list is blocks. They seem so simple, but blocks can be a key component in any playroom. We love blocks of all sizes and shapes at our house. We have large ones that can be used to make forts, small ones for miniature buildings, and of course lots and lots of Legos.
I have learned since becoming a parent, that Legos and Duplos are a parents’ best friend. Primarily because they can be made into ANYTHING. If your child’s interests change as much as my kids, it’s tempting to buy the next big thing they are interested in…be in trucks, dinosaurs, trains, etc. Since my older son was about 3 years old, I’ve worked with him on creating whatever his new interest is out of Duplos or Legos. For example, my older son (now 7) and I just read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe together. He really got into the story and wanted to reenact it. He asked if they made any Lego sets for this story. I said no, but you can make your set with the Legos you already have. That’s all it took and his brain went to work. In just a few minutes he had created his own Narnia out of Legos.
That is the beauty of blocks; not just Legos, but all blocks. They can be made into tractors, dinosaurs, cars, etc. with just a little imagination. The research backs up the awesome brain-building benefits of blocks. They can help kids, even preschoolers, develop gross and fine motor skills, language and even creativity. My younger son has been watching all this and now he does the same thing. The other day he said, “let’s make a gondola out of Legos” (have you noticed we live in Colorado).
With this love of block play, I was thrilled to hear about Brick Smarts. When I heard of them I thought, “why didn’t I think of that?” They take used Legos and clean and refurbish them and sell them to you for 40-60% off the retail price. Wow! That’s what I call smart re-use.
They sent us a set to try out and my 7 year-old loved it, of course. It came nicely packaged with all pieces intact. The manual was just as good as new too. He quickly went to work putting this Marvel Super Heroes set together.
Sometimes you hear of something like this and you think it’s too good to be true, but in this case, it’s not. The set was really just as good as a new one. No missing parts, no torn manuals. They have a great selection too. All the popular sets like Marvel, Ninjago, Friends, and Chima.
Check out Brick Smarts for deep discounts on your kids’ favorite Legos.
Check out more tips and resources for learning with Legos
**We were sent a product in exchange for our honest review on this blog