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Wooden Blocks

Can you think of a more timeless toy than the wooden block? It's such a simple thing yet it's hard to imagine how it could be bettered. The colour and variety of Grimm's blocks is hard to resist but there are other ways to play. Sometimes having the constraint of fewer shapes makes for more interesting creations. Take a look at what children can make with Kapla or Just Blocks. The trick is to have enough pieces to work with. It's nice to have a ready-made arch but it's much better if you know how to make your own from three cuboids. Best of all, blocks are open-ended toys meaning that as your child grows, the challenge grows too.

Don't discount blocks with a natural finish. They may not be as attention-grabbing as the brighter sets but they offer a blank canvas for small world play and allow budding architects to focus on form without the distraction of colour.

Other brands to consider are Gluckskafer, makers of the beautiful church set and HABA, whose plain blocks integrate seamlessly with their famous ball track. Or for added snap, take a look at Tegu's magnetic pieces.

If that all sounds like a lot to take in, why not read our comprehensive guide to block play where we look at how block play develops with age and help you choose the right set.

Einstein, Oppenheimer, Gropius and Frank Lloyd Wright are all known to have favoured wooden building blocks as children. Maybe they were on to something?

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