Wooden building blocks are also just a terrific toy to provide for kids, on a lot of levels. They promote creative, unplugged play, building math and motor skills, and, depending on their provenance and production, they have a better chance at being a really great environmental choice, as well. Better than Legos, definitely.
And yet, wooden building blocks are also a toy that tends to cost a LOT of money. For some reason, I get tons of natural parenting catalogues in the mail, and all those beautiful, simple, natural creative toys that they sell? Whoah, pricey!
My kiddos do have themselves a massive collection of wooden building blocks, but only because I’m an avid dumpster diver and yard saler and thrift shopper, but how nice would it be to not have to rely on the vagaries of fate to put me in the path of some great, natural, cheap building blocks?
Dudes, you have GOT to check out Barclay Blocks!
Barclay Blocks is a US company (located just a few hours north of me here in good old Indiana) that manufactures and sells wooden blocks for toys and crafts. The blocks are all made from maple (and the company has good contact info on their site if you want to know more details about provenance and production) and are untreated and unpainted.
All this is well and good, and if you’re like me and are fascinated by all the kinds of building blocks one company can make, the Barclay Blocks site makes for excellent window shopping, but I will happily admit that I’m a stay-at-home mom, and I can not afford those building blocks.
But do you know what else Barclay Blocks sells?
Scrap blocks! Almost the same as their regular blocks! Only way cheaper!
The photo above is a little snippet of what I received when I bought the Free(ish) Scrap Set from Barclay Blocks. The set consists of 20 pounds of unsanded blocks–seconds, end bits, leftovers, and other randomness. That set costs five dollars, plus shipping. The shipping is whopping, of course, because you’re paying to mail 20 pounds of wood, but for me it amounted to fifteen dollars, which means that I got 20 pounds of building blocks for twenty dollars.
Way cheaper than in those parenting catalogues.
My 20 pounds had a good assortment, too. It isn’t super fancy, but includes lots of triangles, a few cubes, rectangles of various sizes, and a couple of half-circles. None are especially splintery, although they do all need to be sanded to make them child-safe (fortunately, sanding is a hallmark Montessori activity that I can put my kiddos to work doing). Out of the twenty pounds, three pieces were split or cracked enough to end up in the wood chipper, but overall, I’m delighted with my haul.
Blocks to build with, blocks to paint, blocks to decoupage…yay!