Wooden Alphabet Blocks

Have you looked at what is on the shelves for young children to play with? Mostly plastic toys. A large number of them require batteries. Doctors and other experts are concerned about the types of toys offered to young children.

The grandson of a friend of ours is having a party for his first birthday. Today, My wife and I went shopping for a present for the young lad who has just started walking. Yes, we saw what we expected. a few soft dolls and animals and a lot of plastic toys, many need batteries.  Our our objection to battery operated toys is that they toy is useless once a battery is discharged or lost. I was disappointed that many of the toys simply entertain the child. We looked for a toy that this boy could interact with, perhaps something he could push or pull.

We chose a locomotive with a handle that he can push along. The locomotive makes popping sounds as it goes. We think he may like it. It will also help him practice coordination skills.

While shopping I found a package of wooden alphabet blocks. The discovery took me back in time. In my youth, and for some time after, all children from two to about ten had blocks, and the most popular blocks were alphabet blocks.

Alphabet blocks were cubes of wood about 1.5 inches on each edge. There were several variations, but they had the following feature in common. Each face had a letter, number or the picture of an animal. Younger children simply stacked them on top of each other. That was great exercise of coordination skills. Older children built walls, towers and other structures. It stretched their creativity and helped to develop a sense of balance. Children who know a little reading or counting could line them up in numerical or alphabetic sequence. Some would even spells simpler words.

These blocks never wore out and seldom broke. Children could play with them for hours before getting bored. Either gender could play with them, and often boys and girls played together with a set of blocks. Sets were often passed down from older siblings to younger ones and from one generation to the next. There were only two safety risks. (1) A child could hurt someone by throwing a block. (2) A child or adult could trip over a block and fall.

I am pleased to see that they can still be purchased and am awed at their comparative simplicity. They are order of magnitude less complex than any other toy on the shelf. Rather than offering our children sophisticate and expensive toys, why do we not look for simple toys that the children can interact with in positive ways.

How many times have we witnessed children open an expensive present and then play with the box? I think it is time for consumers to look for and buy simple toys, especially when buying toys for young children. Perhaps if there is a demand, toy manufacturers will offer more toys that are simple and basic like the wooden alphabet blocks.

Perhaps we need fewer electronic games and more games like wooden alphabet blocks, Lincoln logs, erector sets, etc.

Nothing in this post should be considered as an endorsement of any brand of toy.


About Reynold Conger

Reynold Conger is a retired scientist, engineer and teacher. Now writing fiction. His books are CHASED ACROSS AUSTRALIA, MY KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR and REDUCING MEDICAL COSTS (AT THE COST OF HEALTH). He has also started a series of novelas called THE RICHARD TRACY SERIES. Residence: New Mexico, USA Hobbies: gardening, animals and running. website www.ReynoldConger.com
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