Last week I was given the opportunity to review the wonderful Wooden Safari Animal Building Blocks by toy makers Bigjigs. I’m sure I’m allowed to tell you that this is part of our application to become one of their esteemed ‘Play Patrol Agents’ this year – which is something both the little and big kids in our house would love to do. Writing reviews not only keeps me writing, but it distracts me from those soul-destroying thoughts and worries that often creep up on sleep-deprived parents who have a history with depression.
Our set of review blocks arrived extremely quickly after I found out we were through to the next round, and I was eager to see how keen my little lady was to play with them. The age-range on the box says ‘1+ years’, although I probably would have dug these out for my baby at between 9 and 12 months (for supervised play). I must admit that my initial reaction was that at 2 years and 2 months old, I felt she might be too old for them. How wrong was I!
She was so keen on this little set that they had to go with us everywhere – up onto the breakfast table, in the car to grandma’s house – it was even suggested they come in the bath (at which point we came up with a distraction to sneak them away)
After the towers, brick zoo, counting, shape sorting, skittles and pretend food, us ‘grown ups’ also had great fun playing with
her our new toy. The result is this short video, which I hope brings a smile to your face.
Now the obvious way to play with bricks is to build a tower with them, but the patterns and shape of these make them great for a number of reasons. We love that they aren’t all just square and rectangular, as the curves make for great rollers and trickier balancing blocks. The first thing my best friend did to distract my toddler while I made tea, was to build a zoo out of them (complete with a rising sun and moon to tell day from night). I felt this really got us all using our imagination, and it really inspired me to look at our toys differently. The animal patterns are simplistic enough that you can vary their uses and get your children talking, while naturally bringing colour and interest to the set.
Take this brick for example.. is it the body of a hungry cow, the tummy of a sleepy panda or a cheeky little Dalmatian dog? Or maybe you turn it onto the other side and it becomes a graceful polar bear playing in the snow? It doesn’t matter – it is whatever you want it to be.
So often I see children’s toys that demand attention in one way, and one way only – leaving big empty spaces in our wallets and very little to the imagination. It’s one of the reasons I love The Slow Toy Movement. I’m a firm believer in ‘old fashioned’ toys that are well-crafted and can be passed from generation to generation without losing an ounce of fun. Plastic does of course have its uses, and we would never turn our noses up at an excellent item that happened to be made of this relatively modern material. However, there is something very endearing about beautifully designed wooden toys. This is why we rate Bigjigs so highly.
As you can see, while building blocks may seem like the toy that is too simplistic for your clever little toddler; they hold a wonderful secret: These classic toys become classics for a reason – because they inspire, educate and bring pleasure in ways that you may never have imagined. They have been so much fun to play with, and I love seeing that they are one of the first toys she reaches for each day.
They’ve been brilliant for counting, perfect for teaching colours and recognising animals and shapes, and amazing fun to build, unbuild, drop, chuck, push and all the other things that toddlers like to do with inanimate objects. Thankfully they are light enough that they don’t cause too much injury when accidentally impacting one’s soft tissue, which us grown ups do have to consider!
All in all, the Bigjigs Wooden Safari Building Blocks have been a big hit, and I look forward to many more years in their company. Whilst we were sent these for free as part of the review and application process, this set of building blocks would have been £11.99 well spent.
Great work Bigjigs!