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Why Wooden Blocks are Better than Plastic

Buzzle Staff
Plastic is all around us, and probably will be for quite a long time. When it comes to blocks, though, the plastic revolution might not be entirely good. This story recounts the rewarding experience of playing with wooden blocks, and suggests that Lego might not always be the best way to go.

The Plastic Revolution

These days, plastic rules our lives. If you look around you right now, chances are you will see a huge number of things that are made of different kinds of plastic.
Of course, you'll immediately count plastic water bottles, food containers, and so on, but don't overlook everything else. The casing of your computer, monitor, printer, smartphone, and other gadgets are probably made of plastic, and if you're wearing polyester, even your clothes are made from a type of plastic!

Plastic is Here to Stay

Plastic has truly revolutionized the way the world works. It's both cheaper and stronger than other materials, and chances are you would not know what to do without it. There are some problems with plastics, including environmental issues, and in general we are still working out the kinks, but plastic is probably here to stay.
For the most part, it's for the better. But one area of life that might have been changed for the worse by plastic is childhood play. Sure, plastic car seats are lightweight, and we don't know what we'd do without plastic bottles, diaper disposals, strollers, and so on. But what about toys?

Plastic Toys

If you have kids, ask yourself how many of their toys are made of plastic. How many of your toys, growing up, were made of plastic? Depending on your age, these answers could vary dramatically.
Or, if you're a little younger, plastic toys could play a central part in your childhood memories. Mobiles, swings, dolls, and rattles are all plastic, not to mention high-tech toys like talking pets and interactive games. And let's not forget the most ubiquitous plastic toy of all: Lego blocks.

Blocks: Plastic or Wooden?

Lego blocks are the plastic block par excellence, and these days we'd be hard-pressed to find a single individual who didn't own and enjoy playing with Legos (or one of their competitors' similar products) as a kid. Legos are colorful, easy to use, and foster creativity. But there's one thing Legos don't offer to children, and that's the unique experience of wooden blocks.

The Wooden Block Experience

Those of us who had wooden blocks instead of, or in addition to, Legos can remember exactly what they were like. Heavy and substantial, these blocks felt good to manipulate and made satisfying wooden sounds when they came in contact. By contrast, the dull 'click' of interlocking Legos leaves something to be desired.
Creating towers out of wooden blocks is also somehow more satisfying than even complex Lego constructions. Kids can spend hours or even days working on Lego edifices that, when they're done, leave us only with a fleeting sense of accomplishment.
Compare that experience with wooden blocks: if you had them when you were young, you can probably still remember the sense of excitement you felt when you placed the last blue triangle on top of a precariously teetering tower.

Wooden Blocks are Better

It's true that the interlocking nature of Legos allows for more possibilities than simple wooden blocks, but there's something about the wooden block experience that colored plastic just can't duplicate. Durable, affordable toys are probably not a bad thing in general, but parents should remember that even small things have a lasting impression on young children.
You might find that your kids develop a stronger sense of kinesthetic learning, develop a more complex material aesthetic sense, and have, overall, a more rewarding play experience if you let them play with wooden blocks and toys.