Alphabet blocks are thought to be one of the first toys designed to have an educational purpose.

Teaching toy

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Alphabet blocks can be used to teach younger children the rudiments of the alphabet, and also encourage older children to form words. For babies and toddlers, they are more generally used to build towers for demolition, important in the development of hand-eye co-ordination.

Classic alphabet blocks are still available to buy today, in brightly-coloured plastic as well as wood. Push-along trolleys designed for babies and toddlers learning to walk, often also contain a set.