Natural Wooden Montessori Materials and Educational Toys Crafted in the USA


Young Minds At Play Introduces First Cylinder Blocks For Toddlers
Innovative Design of Montessori Classic Opens Up Manipulative to Toddlers

WESTON, MO – August 27, 2011: Inspired by the Montessori manipulative normally reserved for children aged 3 and older, Young Minds At Play ( has created a set of Cylinder Blocks for toddlers. Their First Cylinder Blocks open up the manipulative to those as young as 18 months.

Cylinder Blocks are a type of puzzle consisting of a series of 4 wooden blocks, each containing a number of cylinders that vary in size. Children remove all the cylinders from each block and then are challenged to replace them in the correct location. The blocks cultivate visual discrimination and prepare children for higher mathematics.

“Toddlers are drawn to Cylinder Blocks, but since they are designed for 3-6 year olds, they are too complex for them”, says Charlene Smith, co-founder of Young Minds At Play. “Plus, the traditional design contains very small pieces that are a choking hazard for children under 3.”

So Young Minds At Play set out to design a version that was safe for toddlers and within their ability to solve. Their solution was to reduce the number of cylinders from 10 to 3 per block, to enlarge the cylinders past choke-hazard size, and to extend the cylinders so that toddlers can use a whole-hand grasp instead of the more advanced pincer grasp.

First Cylinder Blocks

Benefits for toddlers abound: the First Cylinder Blocks promote eye-hand coordination, visual and tactile discrimination, problem-solving, spatial skills, motor skills and prepare them for higher mathematics. For toddlers though, it’s just a fun puzzle to solve.

Like all their products, the First Cylinder Blocks are made in the USA and are eco-friendly. They are made in Missouri from locally-sourced, sustainably-harvested solid maple and cherry wood and hand-finished with a beeswax/oil. Packaging is 100% recycled material.

The four different styles of First Cylinder Blocks can be used individually, or for a greater challenge, used in combination. The four sets are:
Set 1: Diameter of the cylinders increase while the height remains constant
Set 2: Diameter of the cylinders increase while the height increases
Set 3: Diameter of the cylinders increase while the height decreases
Set 4: Diameter of the cylinders is constant while the height decreases

The First Cylinder Blocks are available at

About Young Minds At Play
Young Minds At Play specializes in crafting and selling mind-stimulating, eco-friendly, wooden toys for ages 1+. Frustrated that they could not find the safe, natural, educational toys they wanted for their infant son, Jeff and Charlene Smith started Young Minds At Play in 2010. They craft all of their toys from locally sourced, sustainably harvested solid maple and cherry wood and hand-finish them with a beeswax/oil. Packaging is 100% recycled material or reusable cotton bags. Everything is made in Weston, Missouri, from American materials and all packaging is American-made. For more information, visit

Media Contact:
Charlene Smith
Young Minds At Play PO Box 352 Weston, MO 64098
Tel: 888-484-8094 x 802 / Fax: 888-484-8094