I remember reading, perhaps in The Absorbent Mind, that Maria Montessori suggested children only need two toys at home, a basket of wooden blocks and a special bear or doll. Over the years I've seen the value and witnessed the benefits of having blocks in the home. We've been fortunate to have a few different block sets so I thought I would share some of our favorites with you. These make lovely, wholesome, practical gifts that will last for years!
If you are able to find a good quality set I also recommend Unit Blocks, they are larger than most block sets and lead to big block play, children often build structures taller than themselves. Ours are similar to these (from MTA), but also similar to this Melissa and Doug Set or these from Carolina Pratt. Teaching Numeracy, Language, and Literacy with Blocks is a good book to have if you are looking to make most of the educational opportunities of block play including the use of unit blocks.
If you have little ones I recommend to start with a small block set from Grimm's. We have the Rainbow GeoBlocks, which were Otis' first blocks and will be passed onto Otto.
It's hard to go past interlocking blocks, children can use them to create and build in new and exciting ways. I also love tree blocks and those with bark for added texture! We've also had a lot of success with magnetic blocks. Building with blocks is foundational, a critical skill, but it can also be a lot of fun where children can get immersed for hours!