Both of my girls have loved soft blocks as babies. Immy was gifted a beautiful fabric set featuring different textures and sound makers and AJ (now eight months) loves this Sesame Street themed set that she received for Christmas. Here are five simple baby games we play regularly with our collection of soft blocks;
Knock ’em down: Babies love knocking down towers and more often then not I don’t get to stack all six of our soft blocks before they are scattered in every direction all over again! You might like to count them as you stack them or sing a simple song like this;
Build ’em up, build ’em up, build ’em high,
Build ’em up, up, up into the sky.
Pack and dump: Pop your soft blocks into a lightweight plastic tub and allow your baby to take them out one by one or dump them all at once. Pack them again and they are sure to be dumped over and over. If involving older siblings in the game, set the tub a short distance away and you and the older child can gently throw the blocks into the tub. A crawling bub, like AJ, is sure to crawl up to dump them back out again and might even be encouraged to bring them back to you.
Hide and seek: Within view of your sitting baby, place one or two of the blocks under a small, lightweight tub or small scarf and encourage them to ‘find’ and uncover them. For older, mobile babies and young toddlers, hide one block somewhere in the room and encourage them to find it. Use your discretion to match the difficulty of the activity to your baby’s stage of development.
Developing vocabulary: Talking to your baby is so important to their language and cognitive development (the development of thinking and reasoning skills). When playing with your soft blocks notice aloud with your baby their colours, any patterns or pictures, or other distinguishing features. Older babies or young toddlers might be able to point to an obvious, easily recognised feature on request, such as Elmo’s face or the red block.
Line them up: I will often set up a very, very basic invitation to play for AJ – lining up her collection of six soft blocks, each with an animal figurine on top. When she discovers it she either swipes with her hand and arm to knock them down or picks them up one at a time to have a bit of a taste and explore!
If you don’t have a set of soft blocks you could always have a go at making your own. This tutorial at Felix George and Me looks quite straightforward. You could add all sorts of additional learning fun when making your own – using different fabric colours, patterns and/or textures, great for sensory stimulation and matching.