Friday, August 21, 2009

a question on toys

A parent asked the following question:
I've been exploring the value of building/play in education (we homeschool, so I have a lot of latitude here!). I was wondering what your thoughts were on time spent with toys such as lego or architecture blocks or puppets -- is it as valuable time spent on a "craft" such as crochet or sketching or traditional woodworking? Is it completely different?
Legos fit together in very certain and prescribed ways. So you can do lots of creative things with them and they are fun... but they don't offer the ultimate in creativity.

The following example might illustrate my point. A young man was nearly blind and working with Froebel's sticks and peas, his 19th "gift" for teaching kindergarten. These are like tinker toys but you make your own from peas and toothpicks. All the other children in the room were building rectilinear projects, like what they could see. The nearly blind child, Buckminster Fuller, built forms using triangular arrangements of sticks and peas and rather than working from what he saw, he worked on the basis of the strength of what he could feel. You may know who Buckminster Fuller became in later life, and of his contributions to architecture.

So the answer is that if you want your children to do what everyone else has done, by all means give them the same tools and toys to work with. Or you and they can get more creative.


  1. Anonymous2:40 PM

    I got to hear Buckminster Fuller speak, at U of Buffalo's school of architecture many years ago. Just speaking off the top of his head he could hold a few hundred people absolutely hypnotized. Remarkable mind.


  2. Using real, wooden blocks helps develop hand strength because the blocks have weight. My grandson has very strong hands. He also has a set of scrap blocks made from walnut!