Consider the Omer counted. Shavuot is over. And now, stretching before us is a couple of calendar pages of sun, humidity, chiggers, and porch-sitting.
I’ve just cleaned my screened porch for summer, and we’ve transfered some rug toys out to the concrete: Thomas and Friends and their endless track, Duplos, and wooden blocks. We are lucky to have Teenager’s old blocks: the thick, heavy kind we can really build with.
And, we are lucky to have some Alef Bet blocks, too. We have two sorts: the small, cheap kind and the big, expensive kind. I love both. The small, cheap kind (around 5 bucks) are the same size as our aged alphabet blocks—about an inch and a quarter—good for teetery towers and for crafty projects like, say, a Hanukkah menorah using blocks that spell out your kid’s Hebrew name.
The big, expensive ones (around 30 bucks) are the type of toy I kvell about to every new Jewish parent at synagogue. Why? They are big and fat and heavy; a pleasure to hold. They depict not just the Hebrew letters but pictures of animals as well, with the names in Hebrew. All artwork is not merely printed on, but carved out. Made by the Uncle Goose company, who make other fantastic specialty blocks like Braille, Russian, Chinese, and Hieroglyph.
We can’t get enough Hebrew stuff at our house. It doesn’t matter that Toddler can’t read, yet. He can sing the Aleph-Bet Song, which is a great start. And he knows a shin when he sees one on a mezuzah. I’m all for painless, natural learning, and it feels right to have blocks and posters and puzzles and books and placemats here and there: a sea of aleph-bet and alpha-bet ready for learning by osmosis.
The small ones are from JET (Jewish Educational Toys). They have little pictures of holiday symbols and Jewish whatnots, too.
This third kind I don’t like, somehow, but they are 1.75 inches and come with vowels, too. Something about the design bothers me. I think because they are printed on flat wood: no variation in texture.