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13 Mar '24

The Magic of ABC Blocks

Posted by Annie Messing

Let me to share a little story about ABC blocks and why they hold such a special place in my heart.

Nearly 18 years ago, my oldest daughter Evangeline was just a plump 9-month-old bundle of joy and cuteness. My husband was away for a few months, doing military training at a base in Alabama. With baby in tow, I headed down to spend a few weeks with him. The base housing we stayed in was minimally furnished, and I hadn't brought along many toys.

Especially in the mornings, I needed to find something to keep Evangeline occupied while I got ready. I remembered how much she enjoyed the toys at my parents' home, which we had just visited. These were all toys I had also played with as a child - a big red apple with a cheery bell (classic Fisher Price), pretend peas + carrots, and a classic set of ABC blocks whose sides were worn down to a silky smooth patina from hours of play.

I found a little toy shop in the local town near the base with a set of solid maple ABC blocks -  I still remember setting them on the floor for the first time and watching Evangeline's eyes light up.

In the subsequent weeks, she and I played and played and played with those blocks. We stacked and toppled down. We babbled about the letters and pictures printed on each block. I think at one point, Evangeline may have taken a favorite block to sleep with her. Once we were back home from that Alabama visit, those blocks continued to be a favorite.

Even now, 18 years later, the blocks still sit in a basket on the shelf. They evoke such sweet nostalgia and a tangible reminder of how magical playtime can be for both parent and child.

It's fascinating how something as simple as playing with blocks during childhood can have far-reaching benefits later in life. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has done research that underscores how block play in early childhood can shape cognitive development and mathematical skills in adolescence. It's a testament to the importance of play in childhood and its lasting impact on cognitive growth and development.

If only we could devise a way for those blocks to tidy themselves away once playtime comes to a close!