After attending the NY Toy Fair each year, there’s always one product I’m really excited about having discovered, making me want to run back to my laptop and share it with you all immediately. While there were actually quite a few great finds (you followers of our Instagram Stories got a good sneak peek!), this year, the cool new toy that stuck with me most are the History Makers Wooden Puzzle Block Set from mom-run company, Bevy & Dave.
The set of 30 natural wood blocks encourages learning via play, with six different sides that offer tons of educational options.
In fact, you can tell right away that founder Tiffney Laing comes from an educational background, because these blocks are amazingly thoughtful in their design, and how well they fill some of the Black history gaps that are still missing from our kids’ textbooks.
There are three colorful visual puzzles, including my favorite, a vibrant African American History tribute puzzle (very top) featuring names you know — Bessie Coleman, Jackie Robinson, Alvin Ailey — and names you may not know so well. Like surgeon Daniel Hale Williams who opened the first interracial hospital and became one of the first doctors in history to perform open heart surgery. And Ida B. Wells Barnett, a journalist and activist who was a founding NAACP member, fought for women’s suffrage, and led a powerful anti-lynching crusade in the late 19th century.
(There’s a wonderful little pamphlet included in the block set with more info on each of these important figures, though I imagine a lot of us will be running to Google to answer kids’ questions too. Me included.)
We hear he’s being recognized more and more these days. Photo: @bevyanddave on Instagram
The blocks also allow kids to spell out simple words with letters — and even better, to rotate the block, connecting each letter to words that go beyond cat and dog. More like, A is for appreciation, C is for commitment, and O is for Barack Obama.
I also really appreciate the company’s overall aim, which goes beyond learning about important figures history. Truly, they want to help even our youngest kids get to know more about achievers of all kinds, so they can grow to contribute to society in meaningful ways, hopefully becoming leaders themselves.
I know, I know…it’s a set of blocks. But we all know from endless research and data that kids learn best through play. So there’s plenty of validity to the premise that a set of basic colorful wooden blocks can create curiosity about leadership and achievement, right along with, colors, numbers, letters and sight words.
At a Toy Fair that was depressingly lacking in portrayals of diverse children, I am eagerly awaiting more toys like this in the future. Because representation matters. And it’s beautiful.