Worth Saving for the Grandkids: Colorful Wooden Blocks by Grimms

My 18-month-old building with Grimm's Color Charts Rally Building Blocks Set
(wooden cars and people not included).

In Search of Colorful Wooden Blocks (not made in China)

A few months ago my husband suggested that it would be nice to have some colorful wooden blocks in addition to our numerous unfinished natural ones. I agreed, but quickly discovered that the choices were surprisingly slim. There were quite a few inexpensive sets of small blocks that were painted colorfully, but all were made in China.

I eventually started checking websites for individual brands I like (Plan Toys, Maple Landmark, Holgate Toys, Haba) as well as natural toy stores I've purchased from in the past. And what I found was that not one offered a large colorful set of basic building blocks. I was feeling rather defeated about the whole thing, when one day our Grimms stacking rainbow caught my eye. Of course, Grimms! I went to the Grimms website and immediately found gorgeous colorful sets of blocks. A little online comparative shopping landed me on Amazon where I found a wide variety of Grimms blocks sold by The Natural Family Shop (purchases are fulfilled by Amazon).

Grimm's Set of 100 Stepped Blocks

And then I hesitated. For several months in fact. Because, as is often the case, choosing to purchase high-quality, crafted by hand, ethically and sustainably-made products can result in a bit of sticker shock. But as is also often the case with such purchases, once I forked over the dough and received my item, I was so pleased with my choice. I say with the utmost confidence that you will not find colored blocks any where more attractive than those made by Grimms. What Makes Grimms Blocks Special?

Grimms Block are:
  • Handmade in Germany
  • Made of sustainably harvested woods (including alder, lime, maple and cherry woods)
  • Made with non-toxic water-based stains in rich, gorgeous colors
  • Have no finish, varnish, lacquer or paint. Unlike paint, the color cannot chip off.
  • Have the texture of unfinished wood (not slippery like painted wood) which makes them easier to build with; stain rather than paint also means you can still see the beautiful grain of the wood
  • Inspired by the philosophy of Waldorf education
  • Encourage open-ended imaginative play as well as effortless, playful learning
  • Encourage building, creativity and a sense of design
  • Use the same base size (2 cm or 4 cm) making it easy to combine different sets
  • A colorful complement to any unfinished wood set of blocks you may already own

Stain instead of paint means you can still see the lovely grain of the wood.

Color Charts Rally Building Blocks Set

The Color Charts Rally set has 29 colored pairs of rectangles (4 cm x 8 cm x 1 cm) plus 15 square blocks of various sizes for a total of 73 blocks. We love to use this set to create buildings and towers, especially apartment buildings for our little friends (see photo at beginning of the post). These blocks also work really well in combination with a tabletop set of unfinished blocks.

The Color Charts Rally Building Blocks Set adds a splash of color to any
unfinished tabletop wood block set.

The rectangles make nice fences or roads, or line them up and knock them over like giant dominoes. Two of each color of rectangle in so many shades makes these fun for color matching. I was surprised my 5-year-old could detect the subtle differences.

I love working with the palette of colors in this set. My husband is great at getting on the floor and playing with my kids. I tend to try to get my kids engaged in an activity so I can run off and get something done. These blocks make me want to sit down and create something alongside my kids. I used to draw and paint a bit way back when. With an 18-month-old, I simply cannot sit and focus long enough to create much of anything artistic these days. I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but just arranging these blocks does fill that little artistic yen of mine a bit. In fact, when these blocks arrived I told my kids that they were mine, but that I would let them play with them too.

You should know that the rectangles are made of a softer and more lightweight type of wood. My teething toddler has managed to make indentations in some of them. In addition, while stained colors don't ever chip off the way paint, with enough pressure and friction, occasionally one color might rub off on another block, and sometimes a block may arrive this way (it looks like a small mark was made with a colored pencil). I've seen this with the Holztiger animals we own as well. It just comes with the territory of the more natural finishes. I can tell you that my toddler sometimes sucks on the blocks (not recommended), and the colors don't seem to bleed at all.

Set of 100 Large Stepped Counting Blocks in Storage Tray (4x4 Size)

Grimms stepped blocks are 4 cm by 4 cm by variable height (from 1 cm to 10 cm by 1 cm increments).

These blocks are fabulous to build with, of course, but also great for encouraging mathematical thinking: comparisons, addition, multiplication, measurement, and algebraic thinking. While you could certainly deliberately use these blocks for mathematical explorations (how many ways can you make 10? how many dark green blocks equal one purple one?), I have noticed that these playing with these blocks naturally encourages you to figure out how to use different combinations of blocks to make the same height just so you can create a level surface.

How many ways can you make a tower of 10 cm?

We love to use the Stepped Blocks set on its own, or in combination with the Color Rally set, or to add color to our set of unit blocks.

Stepped 4 x 4 Grimms blocks make a colorful addition
to an unfinished unit block set.

Like other blocks, they lend themselves well to open-ended play. In our house they have most often been used for building houses, garages and skyscrapers; making words; or as play food for us or our wooden animals.

My 5-year-old building a skyscraper with the Stepped 4 x 4 Grimms blocks.

Yum yum. Stepped 4 x 4 Grimms blocks make a colorful meal.

100 large blocks means plenty of blocks to create an entire town.

I love the wooden tray which makes clean-up into a game.

My 3-year-old cleaning up.

There is also a less expensive 2 x 2 (2 cm by 2 cm) set of 100 stepped blocks, but note that the smallest sizes would be choking hazards for little ones.

Set of 5 Small Wooden Stacking & Nesting Bowls

I also have these Stacking & Nesting Bowls. Many folks are familiar with plastic stacking/ nesting cups. You can stack them inside each other or on top of each other, hide a small one underneath a bigger one. Of course Grimms bowls can also be used for these activities, but unlike plastic they are lovely to look at and pleasant to touch.

We love to use them for imaginative play as pools, feeding bowls, and potties for our little animals and people. Of course you can also use them in combination with other blocks for building.

The five bowls range in diameter from a little more than 3 cm to about 10 cm. Stacked on top of each other, they are 20 cm high. The smallest bowl does fit inside my 18-month-old's mouth, so I watch her carefully when she's playing with them. The set of 5 bowls is available in several different color choices: shades of pink, shades of blue, rainbow (largest bowl red), and natural. I wish I'd purchased these when my baby was just a few months old.

Toys for the Grandkids

In every way, Grimms blocks fit perfectly with my toy-buying philosophy: quality over quantity, natural and completely non-toxic materials, aesthetically-pleasing and open-ended, durable and appealing to all ages (including adults like me), and also created by a business I can enthusiastically support. If I had it all to do again, I would own only these types of toys.

The other day my husband, who hounds me relentlessly to donate or sell any item I haven't used in the last 4 hours, saw our Grimms blocks scattered on the ground and remarked that many of our toys are so nice that we will have to pack them up and save them for the grandkids once our kids are grown. Amen to that. But I'll probably keep at least our Grimms blocks out for me to play with in the meantime.

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I purchased the Color Charts Rally Building Blocks Set and Set of 5 Small Wooden Stacking & Nesting Bowls myself. Natural Family Shop provided the Set of 100 Large Stepped Counting Blocks in Storage Tray (4x4 Size) to facilitate their review. All opinions are my own. See my full disclosure policy here.

This post is part of
Works for Me Wednesday


  1. I have kept many toys for my kids' children. What a great concept to buy quality that you won't have to worry down the line if it is toxic. I wonder if the matchboxes that I saved have toxic chemicals in them. hmmm. Anna

    1. Yes, I was bummed to see that Mattel's Hot Wheels were one of those toys that tested high for heavy metals in some made in China expose or another. Most of our Hot Wheels are hand-me-downs from older nephews or even passed from my husband to nephews to us (some are old enough -- 1970s -- that they were made in England!). Most made in Thailand. Although I love Legos, you have to be careful about saving Legos that are too old too. As I learned from Crunchy Chicken's book Non-toxic Avenger.

  2. Those blocks are beautiful...my 4 year old played with blocks at the doctor's recently and I just loved watching him have so much fun with something so simple.

  3. These are wonderful. I honestly think it is worth it to spend more and have something that will last and last. As you say, you can save it for the grandkids, gift it to family members or good friends.

  4. Gosh, I wish we had those when my boys were little. I'll keep them in mind for gifts!


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