Just when I think it’s time to put the baby blocks away, my kids will surprise me by building some huge creative structure on the living room floor, enhanced by LEGO men and dollhouse furniture. Still, I can tell the basic square blocks we’ve had for ten years aren’t quite cutting it anymore. In my search for some cool wooden blocks for older kids like my own, I’ve found some incredible sets that look more like inspiring works of art than baby toys.
These wooden block sets might even keep my kids from asking for more screen time, and I say that’s worth the purchase price right there.
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The gorgeous look of the gem-like Areaware’s Balancing Blocks (also at top) is no accident — they were designed by NYC design team Fort Standard. My kids would love seeing how high they could get these to stack before they fall. Then again, the all-white set is pretty enough to function as a zen-like sculpture on my wall.
We’re big fans of Tegu’s magnetic blocks around my house. Because building something with wooden blocks, and then being able to pick it up and actually play with it (gently) without it falling apart is pretty awesome. Their Magnetron Future magnetic blocks set is on all my kids’ wish lists at the moment and is perfect for road trips this summer.
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If your kids are ready for one step up from basic wooden blocks, Grimms Romanesque Building Set is a beautiful (if very pricy) upgrade with some more challenging shapes to inspire little architects. This is the kind of beautiful heirloom toy you’ll buy now, and keep to play with your grandkids later.
There is so much potential for creativity with the beautiful mahogany and pine Alphabet Blocks we found from Pat Kim for Areaware. From spelling out your name to creating marquees on top of your blocks by to using letters as funky shapes, there are endless possibilities with this cool wooden block set. Plus, there is a pretty decent discount for this block set on Amazon right now, which is always nice.
Related: Six wooden block crafts to make those old toddler toys new and fun again
I think my kids’ creativity (and yes, my own) would be most challenged by the quirky PlayShapes wooden blocks from Miller Goodman. Most building blocks are used to create vertical structures, but the flat images people have created with these blocks in their photos are pretty amazing. Then again, you could build some crazy balancing acts with it too. These are ones we’ll be saving up for.
The Larsen Toy Lab Games and Puzzle gifts wooden block set takes wooden blocks to the next level by incorporating games and tangram-like puzzles for kids to solve using the blocks included here. They’re made sustainably in the USA, which is always nice when it comes to wooden toys. But the real draw is the little extra incentive that gamifying block play can give to those kids who struggle when it comes to exploring their creative side, and would rather just watch a show.