Nature Blocks

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“I teach first grade for a homeschool coop. From the first day of school, I noticed the way the children played with these blocks was so different from the way children play with other blocks.”

Nature blocks are beautiful and eye-catching. (Online, these blocks are also known as natural wood blocks, Waldorf wood blocks, Montessori wood blocks, and tree blocks.) You’ll find adults are naturally drawn to them, just as children are. Playing with the blocks is a feast for the hand and the eye. Although our natural wood blocks come in a sweet, rustic drawstring bag, I recommend finding a beautiful basket the right size for your family’s set and putting them where they can be seen when your child enters the playroom.

Supports Your Child’s Sensory Integration

img_0654You’ll soon see how young children of all kinds are drawn to them. The mystery of what makes natural wood blocks so appealing to young children (and some adults – like me!) is not so mysterious. One big reason why is the endless variety of textures, shapes, and weights. It’s something every child is nourished by because our children spend a huge proportion of their early years from birth to approximately age seven on sensory integration – that is, establishing strong senses that all work together, harmoniously. This includes the normal senses like taste, sight, hearing, smell, and touch, as well as their vestibular sense – their sense of balance – and their proprioception – their body awareness and the smooth functioning of entire limbs or small parts like those adorable fingers and toes.

Natural wood blocks feed children’s sensory integration: while the sounds – nature blocks make great instruments – the smell and even the taste of the nature blocks contribute in their small way, the textures are what make the major contribution during your child’s play time. The diverse weights, dimensions, and varying centers-of-gravity that the blocks have help your child develop that sense of balance – the vestibular sense – and sense of how his or her body functions when complex conjunctions occur like a heavy, cylindrical block in one hand and three light, flat blocks in the other.

img_1087Qualities of Your Set

  • img_0961Entirely handcrafted. We make each block using hand tools in our own shop.
  • Eco-friendly. Made from reclaimed wood that we hand-select. Most of it is fallen limbs and logs that we gather personally, but some blocks, such as our cinnamon red blocks, are made from reclaimed wood that winds up filling your child’s imagination instead of a landfill.
  • Beautifully finished. The finish is a natural proprietary blend of beeswax, jojoba oil, and refined coconut oil that we make ourselves. We are committed to the safety of your child, and these are the highest quality food-grade ingredients available. The oils contribute greatly to the beauty of the nature blocks and their longevity.  The blocks can also be left in a natural, unsealed state.

How To Play with Nature Blocks

img_1135Stacking and knocking nature blocks is a natural. Here are other great ways to play with natural wood blocks. Children love to combine them with other toys such as small swatches of cloth, ropes, little boxes, stuffed animals, and more to create imaginary environments. My students, with no adult prompting, frequently use the large flat rounds in conjunction with swatches of cloth and stuffed animals to create a bed for the animal to sleep in or, in some cases, to convalescence in. They sometimes build an entire story around the characters using the blocks with lots of other toys in the mix. My wife’s granddaughter loves to cook with them, putting small round pieces inside her plastic cookware to be pancakes and cylinders to be bacon. Then, when the food is done, large rounds can be plates and sticks can be knives and forks.

 

 

Ordering

To order natural wood blocks from us, use the form on the sidebar. (If you’re local to the Front Range, and you’d like to pick up your blocks to avoid shipping costs, email me at thomas.p.davenport@gmail.com with the type of sets you would like, and we can arrange that.)

SetPriceShipping (domestic)Total
Deluxe (50 pc)$60$18.75$78.75
Explorer (40 pc)$50$13.45$63.45
Expanded (30 pc)$40$13.45$53.45
Starter (20 pc)$30$13.45$43.45

The photos above are actual sets, and the sizes are representative, but the pieces will vary somewhat.

FAQ’S:

  • Isn’t it frustrating for children that the lack of straight sides makes them harder to stack?

I’ve never seen any sign of that. I’ve only seen children more engaged by the challenge of constructing with nature blocks, searching out shapes and rotating pieces, a sure sign that the blocks are feeding their vestibular and proprioceptive development.

  • Why not just play with regular blocks?

Plastic building toys have no life in them: the texture is totally lacking in information for little hands. Wooden blocks that have been machined to be smooth suffer from a very similar problem: the texture, while natural, misses a chance to aid in children’s sensory integration. Wooden block sets that have just a few consistent sizes and shapes miss the opportunity that nature blocks provide: every block – even of the same type – is a different size, every block has a different weight. Additionally, as children get a little older, wooden blocks with letters and numbers take on a meaning and children have a harder time taking them into imaginative play because of the sense of them having a defined purpose. It’s a much better idea to use the natural wood blocks: the small blocks are great for creative counting, and you can represent multiples with bigger blocks, grouping and regrouping to prepare children for multiplication and division. Letters can be cobbled together in very entertaining ways out of sticks and rounds. Everything in your set can combine to wonderful effect, yet remain a totally open-ended toy once back in its basket. (You have gotten a basket, haven’t you?)

Children love to interact with this attractive ecological toy. I have seen children play nature blocks like drums, build rough-and-tumble constructions and roll a block into them to knock them down, create a board game with them by laying out flat rounds and planks and using glass beads as game pieces, and my granddaughter even set the dinner table with them.

  • Why do you sell nature blocks?

img_0635I teach first grade for a homeschool coop that includes 10 beautiful, incredible little boys and girls. We inherited a deluxe set of natural wood blocks from the long-time Waldorf teacher I took over for, and, from the first day of school, I noticed the way the children played with these blocks was so different from the way children play with other blocks. Children interact with natural wood blocks in so many different ways: to build, in imaginative play, as instruments, as cooking equipment, to make games out of. They catch children’s imagination and keep it, and it’s so obvious as a teacher that they are learning every moment they play with these blocks. And, as a nature lover, adding these blocks to a child’s play room is an enormously appealing proposition to me. I love to look at them, to feel their warmth and weight in my hand. Playing with these again and again with small children is always a joy for me.

  • How do you clean the blocks?

img_1020Wood has been shown to be a superior substance to plastic when it comes to cleanliness because, at the microscopic level, the complex cellular structure of wood grain doesn’t allow bacteria to multiply. In short, washing natural wood blocks isn’t necessary. However, some of the bark will flake and fall off over time, so once-in-a-while turning the bag over the trash is a good idea. The vacuum cleaner will take care of the rest.

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