ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Considering sizes and shapes when choosing a children's wooden block set

Updated on March 4, 2009

Musings from experience with blocks

There are a TON of block shapes available when looking at sets of unit blocks. I don't want to sidetrack this post, but you can find a non-complete list here. With all the choices, it’ll make you head spin. But what most people want to know when they are choosing a block set is:

“What shapes would make the best set?”

To answer that question, we have to examine how block sets are put together. Some block sets are assembled for value, some for quality, and most are balanced somewhere in between. What does this really mean?

Kids tend to gravitate to different shapes and use them more often when they are building. Other shapes are used less often, or are just used as accents after the structure is built. It’s kind of the nature of blocks. So which shapes are the best ones, and which are the "not-so-great"?

The Kid approved, super cool Unit Blocks

There is a reason that unit blocks are called unit blocks. Everything is built off of the “unit” size. This is the first indicator that the unit is popular. The next thing that clues us in that the unit is great becomes pretty obvious when you try to build anything. Unit blocks are necessary. OK, what else? Kids love the bigger sized blocks. Double units are always in being used, as are the quad units. Round out the set with a few half units, triangles, flats and arches and you have a captivating set of kindergarten blocks.

Alright Unit Blocks

This group of blocks should be found in larger sets, lightly represented in medium sets, and not really found too often in small sets. These include such pieces as the column and the pillar. They are great pieces and all, but a few can go a long way. Another block that belongs in this group is the small triangle. Yes, I know it was named above since it is a necessary block. However, sets that have too many of this piece are pushing down quality in an attempt to reduce price and boost the number of blocks in the set.

Unit Blocks On My Black List

These nefarious characters are often added to sets to create large block counts to tantalize the unwary with sheer quantities of blocks. As a result, I don’t like them so much. They aren’t bad blocks, per se, but when they gang up you can tell they don’t come from the right neighborhood. These dastardly blocks include such useful pieces as the 1/2 pillar, the 1/2 column, the quarter circle, and the 1/2 roman arch. I’ve even saw one set that touted a reasonably high block count that packed in a piece they called a “cube”. 14 of them to be exact. This was a 1/4 pillar (a small cube about 1 3/8" per side). The only thing I could see to do with this was to stack 4 on top of each other to create a pillar. Now we’re talking. But it took 4 blocks to do it. That’s 4 of your 110 piece block set. All of a sudden you see that instead of being able to create that Taj Mahal you had in your mind, you will have to settle for the 1/4 Taj Mahal. Where’s the fun in that?

Having these blocks present in a set doesn’t immediately discount the set as a bad set. Sets that pad numbers with these pieces will be an apparent great value, but may leave one feeling a bit short on blocks.

A final note about unit block shapes

When choosing a set of unit blocks, please do not just look at the numbers. It is the easiest way to compare sets, but doesn’t tell the whole story. If you can’t find out which shapes are present in a set, ask. Most wooden toy stores can get that information for you. It is important.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Christa Dovel profile image

      Christa Dovel 

      9 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      You have some good content, but pictures would make this hub much better -- show me what you mean by units!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)