Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Best Toys for Toddlers - Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Board set

We're all fond of wooden toys - they last longer than plastic toys, they are more nature friendly and they often become little family treasures passed from generation to generation. And if they can be used as learning aids for kids of different age, what more parent can ask for? :)

Today we would like to introduce you to Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards - toy a child can use in different ways from 2 year olds to school aged kids (more about play ideas for different age later in this article... keep reading!). This toy is great as an educational toy - helps develop motor skills, math and can even be used for sensory play. 

Basics about Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards

- as mentioned before, this set is created from wood. It has bright, clean colors and it's painted well (doesn't smell when you open it!)
- set has 5 wooden boards with images printed on both sides, like pictured - it includes animals, flower and transportation vehicles so it's fit for all the tastes and preferences (both boys and girls)

- set also comes with 120 pattern blocks - 20 pieces of each: yellow hexagons, green triangles, red trapezoids, orange squares and white small trapezoids (shown on the picture).

- storage box in which pattern blocks and boards come in is also created from wood with plastic lid. Plastic lid is the only thing I personally don't like about this toy. It can't be secured or attached in any way so box with boards and blocks must be stored flat on the surface.
- Caution! This set contains small parts so parental supervision is needed! 

Play ideas for Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards

1. Sorting pattern blocks by shape / color (age 2+) If you have you can use compartment trays like one on the picture or any kind of box, cup, etc. Just add one for each of the colors / shapes and show your toddler how to sort them by colors.

2. Matching colors (age 2+) Simply take 6 printer paper sheets in matching colors and let your toddler place the right colored pattern block to the matching colored paper.

3. Learning about colors and shapes - sensory play (age 2+) I don't really expect from 2 year olds to know words like hexagon (not from 1st try at least!) but you can still play with tiny tots this game. Take a bag or tissue box or some other kind of the box that has hole on top. Put inside few of each shapes and put in from of the child one of each. Let them try to feel the shape and match it to the one they can see. For 2 year olds, ask them to match shapes by color (they can say yellow instead of hexagon, or green instead of triangle). For older kids, let them match by names of patterns.

4. Simple patterning (age 2+) Use pieces to form simple patterns on flat surface (AB, or ABC, or AAB) and let them continue what comes next.

5. Simple patterning using homemade tiny boards with 2-4 pieces (age 2+). We can't really ask from 2 year old toddler to put together image that comes with this set. It's way to much pieces for them and takes skills they still haven't develop. So, what you can do is draw yourself tiny boards using 2-4 pieces of blocks. I have done some for my daughter when she was younger and this is how they looked:

These 5 simple learning games can be used as an introduction to patterning. When your child is over 3 year, you can give to her / him patterning boards that come with this set and they surely will be able to complete the picture with no, or very little help from you! :)

Hope you enjoyed this post and if you have some additional ideas how to use this set with toddlers, please share it with us in comments section!!! We love to discover new ways to play with old toys! :)))

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  1. One idea I have is to play a version of Kim's Game with them. Make a simple pattern or simple picture, then ask your child to hide his eyes while you remove one block. Can he work out which one you took away? If it's too hard for him, have him do it for you ie hide one and you must name the one that's missing.

  2. Oh Susan, thank you so much for a suggestion! It sounds like fun! :) Will have to give it a try! :)

  3. This looks like a nice set of pattern blocks. You've shared some great ideas. I like the Book Chook's idea too!
    When I taught elementary school students always went for the pattern block tub to make creations during free time.

    My 7 year old son loves pattern blocks too. He made a really cool design this year I got to see when I was volunteering.

    My kids never had a set of pattern blocks for home.

  4. Michelle, if you click through to Amazon (lik at 1st picture), you'll see that this set is really cheap - it's only $13! Much less than other pattern blocks! :) Who says kids have to get expensive toys to have fun! ;)

  5. Such a fun tool for learning all kinds of math skills! (And they don't even know it!!)


  6. Putti loves this and can play with it for long time!!


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