Jack and the Giant Building Blocks
By Jodi M. Webb
April 1, 2003
block is the most basic of toys. A three-dimensional shape made for
stacking, building and creating. It has stood the test of time, not
only for decades, but also for millennia. The Harry Potter LEGO
Building Sets, on everyone's must-have list for the 2002 holiday
season, are only the latest in a family of toys stretching back to
of the block's simplicity, many parents overlook the developmental
opportunities offered by block building. ImagiPLAY, manufacturer
of ImagiBRICKS, designs blocks to help children "explore and
discover how they can control their environment and manipulate objects
within it." Blocks are also "process driven," according to the Bank
Street School of Education. In block building, like children's
art, the act of creating is more important than the finished product.
Blocks help children master many pre-math skills: spatial relationships,
concepts of alike and different, and size comparison. Block building
also matures children's relationships with others by teaching teamwork,
cooperation and respect for others' ideas and creations.
A fun new trend with many manufacturers has been larger-than-life
building blocks. Instead of sofa cushions, old blankets and dining
room chairs, children can use these oversized blocks to build a playhouse,
a tunnel, even a table and chairs.
these giant blocks function the same way as their Lilliputian cousins,
they boast a few differences. Ray Barker, Chair of Judges for the
Educational Resources Awards, lauded the 2000 winner, LEGO
Soft Blocks, for helping children to "experiment with their own
physical capacity." Because of their size, giant blocks encourage
grasping with two hands, standing and lifting overhead. In addition,
they also help children master gross motor skills.
LEGO Soft Blocks
To compensate for their size, manufacturers are choosing softer, lighter,
and quieter materials. LEGO Soft Blocks, containing traditional-shaped
LEGO blocks measuring 3.5" x 3.5" and 7.5" x 3.5", are made of EVA
(soft plastic polyEthylenVinylAcetat), while ImagiBRICKS are made
of corrugated cardboard, assuring that when the walls come tumbling
down, laughter will be the loudest sound.
blocks are ideal for outdoor play as well. Despite being made of cardboard,
ImagiBRICKS have a water-resistant coating. Interlocking brick sets
such as Little Tikes Big Building Blocks and LEGO Soft Blocks
are also made of indoor/outdoor waterproof plastics.
Tikes Big Building Blocks
The size of bigger building blocks also makes them safe for younger
children. ImagiBRICKS come in three sizes. The smallest size is 6"
x 3" x 3", and all are age appropriate for 18 months to 6 years. But
the impressive structures created by giant blocks can lead to an unexpected
bonus: children enjoy these giant builders long after they have outgrown
the recommended ages.
"I've heard numerous times of kids as old as 16 playing with the blocks
with their younger siblings," said Barbera Aimes of ImagiPLAY.
The long play life of giant blocks makes their price tag reasonable.
ImagiBRICKS start with a 24-piece set for $29.95. Little Tikes Big
Building Blocks start with a 33-piece set for $59, and LEGO Soft Blocks
start with a 32-piece set for $99.
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