If you were allowed only one toy in the toy box, what would it be?
For me, it has to be blocks, though figures would come in a respectable second.
You may have noticed that the selection of toys on our site is limited. This is deliberate. Children don't need many toys. Most of what you find in your local toyshop is disposable junk. That's not to say that your child won't enjoy playing with it for a while, simply that the pleasures are short-lived.
Only open-ended toys have any long-term play value. If you want your child to learn through play, these are the toys to stock up on.
Blocks present limitless challenges. But they're not just for engineers. Building with blocks requires an aesthetic choice and the design must be fit for purpose. They teach symmetry and balance, multiplication and division. They're even great for language development.
Can you think of another toy that is as loved as much by an infant as a schoolchild?
As you know, almost to a fault, we discourage you from buying too many toys. But blocks are special. You need a decent quantity of them. Enough to complete your constructions, to realise you vision. There's nothing more frustrating that starting on a build only to realise halfway through that you don't have enough to finish it.
P.S. I've written more about getting by with just a few toys in a recent blog post, Toy Box Essentials. You can find it on the site in the main blog.
Here's the rest of the series:
Encourage open-ended play for creativity and focus
Understanding schema play in toddlers
Independent play and why it matters
Insider Guide: Small World Play and Language
Tell Almost Any Story with Just a Handful of Figures
A simple guide to choosing the right toy