We’re so happy to be through to the final round of the Bigjigs Play Patrol. We have been sent a set of Bigjigs Safari wooden blocks and our mission is to put fun to the test. Together with my 3 little helpers, we have come up with loads of ways to play and learn with these wooden blocks, and they have been enjoyed lots by all my boys – age 2, 4 and 5.
1. Simple colour sorting is a great activity for little ones. As this set of blocks have different shades in it rather than just one tone of each major colour this gives you a perfect opportunity to talk about lighter and darker and for little ones to start grouping together colours that are similar but not exactly the same.
2. You can develop this further to help your child build a rainbow. Mr Z (5) is able to do the rainbow by himself, and littler ones like Mr R (2) may need some guidance.
You can easily adapt the traditional “I can sing a rainbow” song into “I can build a rainbow” to go along with the activity
Red and orange and yellow, and green, and blue. The last two colours in the set, are indigo and violet. I can build a rainbow, build a rainbow. Build a rainbow too!
3. We also played a colour finding game, which links storytelling and colour recognition. You can use any of the animal blocks and assign each of them a favourite colour, then send them around to collect all their favourite coloured blocks. The boys loved this, they found it really funny to bring the wrong bricks to the animal and then have to be sent back to find them again.
Creative and Language Based Activities
4. Creating Characters. You could help your child to look carefully and match the animal characters with similar coloured and patterned legs and bodies like we have done here, or you could just make some crazy characters! I love the open ended creativity that a simple toy like wooden blocks gives – with some imagination added, any block could represent anything! See how we have used one of the flower blocks as a hat for Mrs Hippo. Mr T is very into hats! 🙂
5. You can then use your characters for Story Telling. One thing I love about the Bigjigs safari blocks is how much personality the animal blocks seem to have. They are so cute and look cheeky! Mr R loved this tiger the best, and decided he was going to play the role of tiger while I was assigned to being Panda and Mr T was Hippo. Story telling games are great for language development. If your child is very young and does not have a lot of expressive language they can still act out some ideas with the blocks and get their point across. Mr R is at this stage at the moment and he loved doing this! The boys love it when I join in with their play and make up some stories for them, then they make up some for me, which is all great for turn taking too!
6. Bring in other toys. We had fun making race tracks for our toy cars, and this is a parking space made by Mr Z
7. To have fun while developing receptive language you can do a listening game. Narrate some basic instructions about the animal characters and what they are doing, and have your child listen and move the characters along to the story. For example:
- Hippo is on the bridge
- Tiger is jumping over the moon (there is a moon block in the set. They loved this!)
- Panda takes the blue block
This kind of activity is great if your child is at the stage where they are just moving on to processing sentences with 3 pieces of information in it, which Mr T and Mr R both are. You can make the instructions and stories simpler or more complex depending where your child is in their language development. It’s also fun to switch roles and see if your child can give you some instructions to follow. Sometimes visuals can help with this. See the end of the post for your free printable sheets to use as visuals for this game.
7. Hide a Block Guessing Game. You can hide a block and ask questions to find out whether you are getting “warmer” or “colder” to it’s location, to help develop deductive reasoning skills. This can be a little tricky and is something Mr Z enjoys.
8. You could make a whole trail with clues and a treasure map to extend the play a little longer. The animal character blocks would be the best blocks to use for this.
9. Shadow drawings. Build your blocks in an area where light falls on them and they cast a shadow, your child can then trace around the shadow. I remembered this idea from this post on Building and Tracing Shadows from How Wee Learn
10. Drawing around the blocks is lots of fun, they can be used as simple shape stencils or used to create a 2D picture by combining them to make a car, a house, or whatever you like!
11. Build shapes and towers then use them as still life props to practise drawing. This is a great way to practise early pencil control and develop mark making skills. The blocks are mainly rectangle, square, round, or triangle which are four of the main pre-writing shapes (you can read more about pre-writing shapes here). Your children can then swap their drawings with each other and see if they could use these pictures to recreate that same tower! A couple of example towers are included in the printables at the end of the post.
Number, Shape and Construction Activities.
12.The blocks are ideal to introduce very simple fractions, to help little ones understand the concept of whole and half and how two halfs equal a whole.
13.They are perfect for Simple Addition activities too. This is a fun way to introduce your toddler or preschooler to basic maths, without them even realising that they are learning, because they are just playing and having fun!
14. It’s also a very easy way to introduce basic division, without children even knowing that it’s division or feeling intimidated by the concept of that if they are not keen on maths. You can make it into a fun sharing game between the animal characters. Choose two characters and ten blocks, how many will each get? Three characters and twelve blocks? The child can share them out for a really practical and hands on way to learn through play.
15. Patterns games. This is another way that early maths skills can be made fun! With the younger boys we did ABAB and ABCABC and Mr Z wanted to make his own more complicated ideas.
16. Making Complicated structures and amazing houses. This is Mr T’s favourite activity. He loves to make the houses with two stories and a roof, and has his own very specific plans in mind for what the finished home should look like! I love to watch the boys playing and observe the different routes that they take with the activities. Mr R is very much into building upwards, so his houses are tall towers whereas Mr T builds outwards and creates the walls of the house first.
17. Matching to cards. Your child can copy the shapes and structures shown on cards, or for a slightly easier version they can match by lying the matching colour block down on the card to match them up. My boys all enjoy puzzles so they love this type of game. It can be made as easy or as challenging as you like, so it’s a great way to play with blocks for age age group.
18. Of course not forgetting unstructured free play. These blocks are so open ended that children can make up an unlimited amount of games or structures by themselves, and my boys definitely enjoyed doing this.
The Safari blocks from Bigjigs are such a lovely set, they are so well made and very good quality so I know that they will last for many more years of playing and learning. I love how they fuel children’s imaginations, and show that you don’t only need letter or alphabet blocks to facilitate learning. They would be a great addition to any family home, or nursery. The blocks are suitable from 12 months+ but using a variety of different play ideas they can be adapted to suit your child from age 0-6.
The Bigjigs safari blocks can be bought from a variety of retailers, including direct from the Bigjigs website.
To see these blocks in action, check out the review over at Red Rose Mummy where Pippa has included video along with her thoughts on the blocks and how they are helping her children learn through play.
To find out way more about the benefits to child development that go along with block building, take a look at this great post from Home Grown Friends
For more educational activities follow my Pinterest board!