If your kids are into STEM activities and building, these wooden layer blocks will add a new dimension to their wooden block play and allow them to build multi-leveled doll houses, garages and towers!
A few years ago, when we first started playing with wooden building blocks, all my son wanted to make was ramps and garages. Well, he was just over a year old back then, so it mostly involved me building ramps and garages. I got a lot of experience, and that’s when I first started wondering, “Wouldn’t it be great if these blocks came with big flat slabs of wood? It would enable a lot of possibilities.”
As Anselm grew older and his constructions became complex, I thought about it again and considered cutting him a set of big flat blocks out of a plywood, but never thought about bringing our trailer to the lumber yard until we were already there. Last spring, however, we were remodeling his room and ended up with some extra shelves from his IKEA storage system. Anselm liked stacking them, so they got left in his room. Then one day, he was playing with wooden blocks and stuck one of the shelf boards onto his blocks. Seeing this, I felt excited like a kid myself, “Wait a minute, we can build multiple levels now!”
It really started a new era of wooden block play in our house. Building multi-layered constructions is a lot of fun! Why?
Reason 1: They Are Big
The buildings turn out quite big. “Humongous!” Anselm says. It’s quite impressive to see this little child standing next to a construction he built that is taller than he is. I think he also feels satisfaction at his own work as if he was not just playing with his old wooden blocks, but actually building something substantial. Next to little Faye, the construction looks particularly impressive. Anselm brought her over to take a look. He claimed he had built a house for her to live in. Well, his buildings are big, but not quite that big!
Reason 2: They Are Challenging
Working on such a scale requires a lot of concentration. When I watch Anselm build, I can just see how his brain is working hard on figuring out how to make the new layers even and keep the whole construction sturdy. It teaches him a lot about balance!
Reason 3: They Offer New Possibilities
Last but not least, is the novelty factor. The addition of the levels bring something new to old blocks, and it’s interesting to experiment with them to discover new building possibilities.
First of all, building quick doll houses is really easy. And what doll wouldn’t want to live in a house that can be renovated practically every day? On the other hand, if it’s necessary, the construction can withstand weeks of play.
A garage with ramps is my son’s definite favourite, and he builds lots of them. Once he finishes one, he arranges his vehicles inside and then holds massive crash and speed tests. Here our homemade wheeled robots are undergoing meticulous tests.
Big flat blocks also work for building furniture – beds, tables and chairs – for dolls and stuffies.
How to Make Level Blocks
We were lucky – we had extra Ikea Trofast shelves that we re-purposed as level blocks. They’re made of finger-jointed pine, and their dimensions are 16x11x3/4″. We’ve got six, which seems a convenient number for making a few floors and adding ramps to the sides. A couple more or a couple less would work, too.
There are plenty of alternatives for making your own. You can buy a 10″ or 12″ wide knotty pine board from the store and cut it to any dimensions you like with a saw (16×12″ would be my recommendation). That would be the cheapest solution. You can usually get 8′ pine board for around $12-15, and that will be enough for six level blocks.
Here Anselm’s Canadian animals have overtaken an untenanted building – the beaver is sure to enjoy having his own slide!