Pillow Blocks, Blocks, Bricks and Cubes
Pillow blocks shaped as cubes were one of the first toys I introduced to my babies. I received these soft home sewn cube blocks from a clever friend. They were the best! These pillow blocks were made from soft material filled with soft stuffing. Just holding the soft cube is an exciting academic achievement for a baby who can grasp objects. These first blocks were all the same size.When an infant can sit up it is the perfect time for baby to hold and feel one soft blocks. Later, I introduced another same sized, soft block for them to hold.
When it was apparent my toddler could stack objects I would show them how to stack 2 blocks. Gradually add one more block until your toddler can stack three blocks. The stacking activity grabbed their attention. A young toddler can stack 2 of these soft blocks very easily. Slowly put one block on top of the other. Your toddler will copy you and do the same. Sometimes they will be entertained by this for a long time. This activity will help children develop a long attention span and concentration.
Make these blocks from washed cotton material. Recycled material, such as denim jeans, works well. Make sure the material is soft, clean and safe.
Here is a pattern to make your baby's first block set. You can choose the size or sizes you would like to sew.
Cut six squares to make the cube, each block has 6 sides. Wrong sides together, sew them together forming a cube. Leave about a two inch opening at the last square. Turn out the block through the two inch opening to show the right sides of the material. Your block just needs to be filled and hand sewn to finish it. Fill with stuffing of your choice, cut up nylon stockings work well. Hand sew the opening. securely
Your baby and toddlers will love these soft cuddly blocks! These make great baby gifts too.
Make various sizes for older preschool children to sort by size. I've made various sizes from pink felt material. They turned out great.
Small Wooden Cube Blocks
I would introduce small cube blocks next. These blocks had belonged to grandma. It is amazing how long they last. They had upper case letters with an object that started with that letter on the other side. Just make sure any toys you use are lead free and toxic free. Holding and stacking the smaller blocks helps refine grasp and coordination.
The pink tower is usually introduced after the stacking activities. You can purchase 10 nesting blocks if you don't have access to the pink tower. Use the nesting blocks two ways. First, you can show how to stack them and lastly, your child can nest them together. The nesting exercise helps show size, volume and shape in another way.
The sets of architectural blocks that have different sizes and shapes are great for conceptual learning. For example, two triangles make a square, two square blocks make a rectangle-just basic geometry. The basic concepts of gravity, balance, and design are a part of making block structures. Blocks are toys your children can use throughout elementary school.
Here are some ideas for block play for older children:
   >  3 blocks are greater than 2 blocks   =   3 blocks equal 3 blocksand finally, 2 blocks are less than 3 blocks. You can use these symbols for other objects in your home or classroom.
Introduce concepts 3 dimensional geometric shapes. Helps with math, counting, differences between less, more or the same, shapes and size.
Resources with Five Free Printouts