Friday, October 22, 2010

What's the Big Deal About Block Play?

I was watching my 18 month old son play with his blocks today. Now, his favorite game is really “Godzilla”; in which he is Godzilla to anything that his sister is attempting to build. But today, she was out with Daddy on an errand to Lowe’s, and he didn’t have anything to destroy. So, he actually started building. I’ve been working with him on stacking and building, trying to model the building-up process instead of the knocking-down process. I was excited to see him working to stack the blocks on top of each other, experimenting with stability and balance. I helped him along a little by steadying his tower as he added a new block, just so that he could experience some success and would want to continue. Then he began adding his little dinosaur toys to the top of each stack of blocks he had created, and he was so proud! Sometimes the toy was too big for the tower, and as it crumbled we laughed and started again. It was a beautiful learning moment, and I could just see the wheels turning in his little head as he made connections, solved problems and had fun. The mother in me was just enjoying his quiet concentration and the time spent alone with him (while of course admiring his obvious engineering and architectural talents). And as always, the educator in me was reminded of the reason block play has always been and is still such an important tool in learning and development. My 4-year-old daughter loves to build as well, and although we usually have to allow her a “special place” for her creations (read: away from her brother), she has the skill and knowledge to create wonderful fantasy worlds with her blocks and her little ponies!It is so much fun to see the creativity at work in both of them, yet in such different ways.

More about Block Play

Play is an important part of a child’s learning and development. The wonderful thing about classic wood toys, such as unit blocks, is that they require the child to guide the play, and thus help to encourage creativity, problem solving and critical thinking. The constructive and creative play that results from block play will benefit the child in all areas of learning and development. Children can use their imagination to create structures, while learning the practical science and math concepts required for building. Block play helps children learn number concepts, develop logical thinking and spatial understanding, and improve motor skills.
Observing block play is just one way to experience child-initiated learning. Parents observing children immersed in block play will begin to understand what the children learn through block play, including creativity, collaboration, science skills, math skills, and more. Developmentally appropriate play for children includes significant time spent with hands-on, manipulative materials. Blocks meet this need for hands-on exploration, and are a fundamental learning material because they require open play. Children playing with blocks can make them into anything they want them to be. The child decides.
The age of the child may determine the type of exploration and play that takes place. Young toddlers begin simply with sensory exploration, finding out the feel, shape, weight of the blocks. Next, children will move into fantasy play with the blocks, which helps them to think creatively, and problem solve. Children’s explorations with blocks help deepen their understanding of the practical world through trial and error experimentation with concepts such as gravity, stability and balance. In addition, collaborative experiences are plentiful when children interact with each other during block play. Studies even suggest that block play contributes positively to language development, as young children use various communication strategies and shared meaning while they are engaged in block play. The study found that children use unit blocks and supplemental props as important play materials “to promote oral language and emergent literacy skills”. (If you are interested in the study details you can read more here: ). Providing blocks for block play is just one way parents can enrich their child’s development, and encourage creativity, problem solving, critical thinking, and collaborative skills.

More about Blocks

Traditional Block Sets are based on the standard 1-3/8" x 2-3/4" x 5-1/2" unit, which is a standard block set dimension used in schools. Each block is a fraction or multiple of the basic unit, providing blocks that support successful play. These sets include an assortment of block shapes and sizes to provide a wide range of building options to the child using them. The number and shapes of blocks can vary depending on the size of the set. There are excellent hard maple blocks in this size that can be found here:

In addition, there are unit blocks that are based on the smaller 1 inch unit size. The base block unit is 1" and each dimension of all blocks is a multiple of 1" so blocks can be stacked cleanly and uniformly. The advantage I have found with these blocks lies in the size for younger children. The smaller block size is more appropriate for little hands, and the blocks are not as heavy (especially when they fall!) for the littlest builder. Older children can still enjoy these blocks and by adding on or combing sets you can create wonderful building opportunities. Find these “My Best Blocks” sets at

Alphabet blocks are another favorite and are great for teaching block skills along with letters or even numbers and other skills! Alphabet blocks are not just ABC’s anymore…you can find nursery rhyme blocks, number blocks, shapes and pattern blocks and so much more. See them here:

What a perfect opportunity to play with your child while observing the way their mind works! Ask them what they are doing, and why. Have them explain to you the reason they stack the blocks a certain way, and not a different way. Let them use other small toys to add to their block kingdom and make up the story to go along with it. As I’ve said before, when it comes to classic block play, batteries are not required, but imagination is!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

And we have a WINNER!!

Thanks to everyone who dropped by and left a comment about the Green Toys Feeding Sets. I hope you will be back to visit our blog again soon! We will be having another giveaway next week, so I hope to see you then!

Our winner was drawn using a Random Number Generator from Tara Frey’s Blog: Typing Out Loud (see link below).

And the winner of the Green Toys Feeding Set is….”The Holleys”! I will be contacting you today to make arrangements for you to receive your choice of a Green Toys feeding set!

Again, thank you for supporting American-made!

From Tara Frey's Blog, Typing Out Loud:
"For all peeps who host crazy cool giveaways and need to pick a winner...
Feel free to use this form to generate a random number!
Enter the numbers between which a random number is to be created.
Lowest Number: 1 Highest Number: 14
Result : 8"

Friday, October 8, 2010

All-American Baby is going GREEN - GIVEAWAY!!

All-American Baby is still Red, White and Blue, but now we are going GREEN, too!

We know you care not only about what your child plays with but also what goes into your child’s mouth, and it is not just about the food they eat. Therefore, we have recently expanded to add baby feeding products to our store and now have all new, bpa-free bowls, plates, and utensils...Made in the USA from Green Toys!

If you are not already familiar with Green Toys Inc., they make an awesome line of classic children’s toys constructed from recycled plastic and other environmentally friendly materials. This helps reduce fossil fuel use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improving the overall health and happiness of the planet. Green Toys products are tested by nationally recognized, independent, third-party labs (located, yes, in the USA.) They contain no traceable amounts of Phthalates or BPA. They are also designed without any external coatings, eliminating the fear of lead paint. Now they have added a Feeding Line that includes bowls, plates, spoons and forks.

I am happy to personally recommend the Green Toys feeding products, as I have had the opportunity to use them with my baby . They are sturdy and functional, and best of all I have no worries about their safety. I have also used other Green Toys with my children, such as their Tea Set and Fire Truck, and have loved the quality of the products.

To help promote our new Green Toys selections, one lucky person will get one FREE feeding product set! The randomly chosen winner will be able to CHOOSE one set from our new Green Toys feeding products...your choice of the Green Toys Bowl set, Green Toys Plate set, Green Toys Spoon set, or the Green Toys Fork/Spoon set. You can visit this link to find detailed information about each of these sets:
To Enter our GIVEAWAY, please visit our website ( and return with a comment on one item that you LOVE! A winner will be randomly selected from the entries. Once you have entered with your comment, you can also have additional entries by "Liking" us on Facebook, or by subscribing to our blog. Blog about this giveaway with a link back to All-American Baby Blog, and leave the URL to your blog post in the comment for an additional entry. Be sure to leave an additional comments for each entry to get credit! And please leave a way to contact you! Contest ends October 18, 2010.
Please note that all comments are moderated, so your comment will not appear until it has been approved.
Disclosure: This blog is used to promote American-made children's products. Many of these products are available for purchase from our online store, I am always on the look-out for only the best products to offer to parents looking for American-made items. I will only promote high quality, safe products that are made in the USA, whether in my store or in my blog. All-American Baby is providing the the gifts for the winner of this giveaway. All views and opinions with regard to the products or manufacturer itself are my own and were not influenced, nor reviewed, by the manufacturer prior to posting. Offer valid US Only!