Usually when I come out from my office at the end of my workday, I’m greeted by an enthusiastic toddler at the bottom of the stairs:
“I want to build! I want to build with colorful blocks! Mama, can you build with me?”
I bought a set of wooden blocks for my toddler for her 2nd birthday, not expecting her to grok them for a while, as the box listed them as a 3+ toy.
At first, she could only stack a few blocks, which, developmentally, was to be expected. She also wasn’t that interested in them. She preferred toys that had a much more obvious use case, like books, or a stacking toy.
I figured, if the blocks weren’t going to be used to “their fullest potential” for a while, maybe we could use them some other way with toys she was more familiar with.
How might we use the blocks for her dolls? Why, they need a bed, of course:
How about a lamp?
Pretty soon, the doll was running her own coffee shop:
And taking her friends out in her unicorn slipper lowrider:
Now this meant that we had to build places and spaces for the dolls. And so began the building of the “towers.”
We built “downtowns” for us all to enjoy, including Swiss Cow:
By now, building was something she would do every day, and she was more than happy to do it by herself for almost an hour on end–enabling us to cook meals, or tend to the baby. Building is second-nature to her. She’ll raise up some pretty funky-looking cantilevered stuff now. My buildings look so uncreative by comparison.
Building blocks have helped her use her imagination, which is usually in the form of asking a ton of questions. What was most surprising though, was this got her to start noticing the world around her. She knows when she’s downtown, she points out tall buildings in real life, and she asks us to help her “build this design.”
All it took was to unlock her imagination with something that was obvious and real to her. The basic building blocks. Now she just wants to build! She was the apprentice for a hot second before she was the one giving me creative direction.