Celebrating China at Home
My kids are half Chinese. Because of that, I’m always on the hunt for ways to incorporate learning about China into play time. We read a lot of books about Chinese culture. My kids eat a LOT of Chinese food and my preschooler practices using his training chopsticks. We watch shows like Little Einsteins and Justin Time that travel to China. Both my kids play with toys that speak Mandarin. We also have a really cool China Village Playset that my kids adore. But the toy that has captivated my preschooler’s attention lately is the Panda Village Block Set by Lakeshore. It’s an Eco-friendly bamboo block building toy. Contains affiliate links.
Benefits of Bamboo Block Toys
My kids love technology. They are dazzled by flashing lights, toys that dance, and the magic of my iPhone. However, I notice that they are intensely interested for a short time and then they get overstimulated and need a break. For parents hoping to get a few minutes to themselves while kids play, this is quite frustrating.
But, when I present wooden toys to my kids, they play with them for a lot longer. My preschooler usually likes to set up a scene and then show me what he’s created. I love that wooden and bamboo toys foster creativity because he stays interested in them month after month. These toys also encourage kids to problem solve.
Now that I’ve been accumulating toys for four years, I’ve also started thinking more about their longevity. I find myself keeping the wooden toys my kids have outgrown to give to friends, but donating the plastic ones. It’s because the wooden and bamboo toys are much more durable than plastic and they last longer and still look new. They are timeless. I like that they don’t go to the landfill like so many toys that last a month and then break.
Out of all wooden toys, bamboo is the most Eco-friendly. Bamboo is a giant natural grass that can grow to over 100 feet. And once it’s cut, bamboo grows back completely in just three years. It can grow as fast as one foot per day! That means bamboo has economical and ecological values to the world. Plus, it’s lightweight and perfect for little hands!
Panda Village Block Set by Lakeshore
Ok, so here’s the toy my preschooler can’t stop playing with. This Panda Village Block Set is geared for kids ages 3-7. It contains nine vinyl pandas and 42 building pieces made of 100% bamboo. The bamboo block columns come in two different sizes. There are platforms, bridges and roofs. And the pandas come in two sizes.
We think this bamboo block set work best on a hard surface. It would be perfect on hardwood floors, rubber mats or on a table. My son got a bit frustrated when he tried to build on our ottoman and the carpet because the blocks kept toppling over.
At first, he wanted to build his village exactly like the one on the box. Once he accomplished that, he let his mind create a new village. One of the villages was a super high tower with lots of levels. Another featured lots of bridges and was quite flat. Sometimes the roofs were used as play structures for the pandas.
For our family, the Panda Village Block Set is a great way for us to talk about China. My husband was able to visit a panda sanctuary in Chengdu and hold a panda. He’s been able to answer a lot of my son’s questions about what they smell like and if they are cuddly like his stuffed animals.
While I’ve also seen pandas in China, I like to read stories about pandas to my son while he’s playing with this bamboo block play set. Some of our favorites are Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, Little Panda, Panda Pants, and Grandma Panda’s China Storybook: Legends, Traditions and Fun. Sometimes these stories get woven into his play and other times he uses them as creative prompts.
Pay It Forward
My son loves this toy so much that we are donating it to his preschool so his friends can also play with it. His teachers are always on the lookout for wooden toys for their classroom because they teach kids spacial awareness. It’s a great way for our family to give back and help support education. It would also be a great addition to any Kindergarten classroom.
If you have more than one child or are donating to a school, I’d recommend also buying the Lakeshore Bamboo Building Blocks – 42-Piece Set as an expansion pack. It gives kids more options when creating their bamboo block village. And it encourages teamwork!