All you need are wooden blocks and a little imagination!
Everyone has some sort of building blocks, right? Even if you don’t there’s bound to be something in your house that you can use instead. These blogs aim to get you thinking creatively about the play potential of the materials you have to hand so you can use them in different and fun ways. Right now it’s difficult to buy more resources, so having fun ideas using things we already own is really helpful. Many of the activities from the Lego blog, will also work with wooden blocks, and vice versa. There are so many possibilities for creating games and activities using these simple materials that won’t cost you a penny.
Once you’ve played a couple of these games with your small people they’ll be brimming with inspiration. Usually they’ll start coming up with ideas and adaptations of their own. Then you can grab yourself a well earned cuppa or or do something else whilst they play. (It works for me about 50% of the time, anyway!)
What you will need to do all of these activities
Wooden Blocks – Alternatively you can use Lego, Duplo, Stickle bricks, dominos, jenga or anything that you can stack.
Tape – or string, a piece of paper, a placemat, a shape on your rug, anything you can mark out a shape with.
Loo roll inners/cardboard – any kind of loo roll middles or scrap card, such as empty cereal boxes will work well
Marble or small ball – even a bead, or a ping pong or tennis ball could work
Fill the shape
You will need: wooden blocks and a shape
Object of the activity: use wooden blocks to fill a shape
How to do it: It’s a really simple game; use the blocks to fill a shape so there’s no gaps. There are lots of options for expanding and varying this activity. You can make it a race to see who can fill their shape the fastest. Or set a time limit and see how many shapes you can fill in the time.
You could change the rules so you can only use one kind of block, or only one of each type of block. You can make it easier or more challenging depending on the age and ability of your child/ren.
Tallest towers: build them up and knock them down
You will need: wooden blocks
Object of the activity – Build the tallest tower
How to do it: As with Fill the shape, there are many possibilities here, for example, you could give each player the same blocks and see who can build the tallest tower. You could take turns to add one block at a time until the tower falls over. Count the bricks and try to beat your best score next time. Take it in turns to build a tower, each one slightly taller than the one before. The first player builds a 3 block tower, the next player builds a 4 block tower and so on until a player can’t beat the one before.
You can see who can build the tallest tower that can support a particular toy. You could get two children to make the same height tower near each other and balance a ruler or book across them like a bridge. There are many ways to adapt this game, and you can decide whether to play it collaboratively or competitively.
Sorting games: quick and easy
You will need: variety of blocks or bricks
Object of the activity – Sort the blocks into groups
How to do it: This is my 3 year old’s favourite at the moment, because she loves matching and sorting. A mixed box of wooden blocks is ideal. Grab a few handfuls and set a sorting task, for example, sort by colour, or shape. We’ve started to introduce numbers into the sorting, so, ‘can you put them in groups of 3?’ or ‘can you find me 4 cubes?’
Build your own wooden block maze
You will need : Wooden blocks
and a marble or ball
Object of the activity: build a maze and move your marble through it
How to do it: First create your maze! Use blocks to create a maze that you can manoeuvre your chosen ball through. This could be a traditional maze with dead ends and multiple pathways, or a single labyrinth path that twists and turns to the centre, on the other hand you might opt for a continuous path with some tricky bits, like an obstacle course.
My 9 year old really likes creating mazes for her younger siblings. When she’s not around I tend to do the vast majority of the maze building. Building the maze can be tricky because you need enough idea of what you can get a ball through, without it being too simple or too complex. Then, use a fingertip to move the marble through the maze, my 3 and 4 year olds really enjoy this bit!
You will need: Blocks, marbles or small balls
Loo rolls/ cardboard Object of the activity – Create a marble run and launch your marble down it.
How to do it: Use blocks to create different heights then position your cardboard and loo roll tubes to form ramps. Stabilise the ramps using blocks on either side so they don’t roll off. Young kids can make something really simple using only a couple of levels, but depending on the age and ability of your child you could make something much more complex.
When it’s ready, try it out with your marble. It will inevitably fall apart at some point then you’ll need to start again! It’s a great exercise in experimenting with structure and design and testing what works and what doesn’t. How steep do the ramps need to be? Can you make them turn corners?
Simple ideas, now have a go
So, there you have it. There are lots of options for entertaining yourselves using wooden blocks and you could certainly create lots more. These activities won’t always engage your little ones for a long time, however, sometimes they will really get into and you’ll have an hours worth of fun. On the other hand, sometimes it’ll be 5 minutes. But sometimes all it needs is 5 minutes, if things are getting intense and your little ones really need you to give them some time and attention, you can grab a few things and get a simple activity going in less than a minute.
We’d love to hear how you’ve used these ideas with your little ones, and how you’ve adapted them. Please feel free to share photos of the activities you’ve been doing. If you have any that we could add to the collection, we would enjoy that too.
By Jeni Atkinson – CalmFamily Director and owner of Little Possums preloved
Jeni is a wonderful, compassionate and inspiring woman. She says “Just because our parenting is gentle doesn’t mean it doesn’t make a difference. The way we raise our children will impact how they feel about themselves & the choices they make as they grow up. I want to see things change in their lifetime, I want to fight back against the childist views of our patriarchal society.
I want to see a world where children are allowed their own autonomy; a world that lets them learn for themselves & make their own mistakes. I want a society where diversity in all its forms is celebrated; where neurodiversity, mental health, sex & sexuality, gender, politics & all these subjects that are shied away from, are talked about openly. I want a society where parents are inspired & supported to make the choices that work for them & their families. Oh, & to save the planet at the same time!”