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Thursday, July 22, 2010

With Dado Cubes & Squares, Brainy Isn’t Boring!


Dado Cubes: (set of 10)

Dado Squares (available in blue and original colors; set of 35, 3” squares)

Available from:

Price range: Dado Cubes $27.50; Dado Squares: $22.00

Overall Rating:

4 out of 5 stepping stones

My expectations:

  1. Game should be easy to use with minimal parental guidance or involvement
  2. Game should be fun to play

  3. Game should inspire creative ideas or exploration
  4. Game should be durable
  5. Game results should be as advertised on website

  6. Customer service should be excellent


As a parent, it is important to me that my daughter has access to educational games that are not only engaging and challenging, but fun. I like the games that activate a child’s sense of discovery and curiosity. So when I received award-winning Dado cubes and squares in the mail, I was curious to see how my 4 year old daughter would respond to them.

To quote the website, “Dado combines art and science as you explore architectural principles . . . proportion, balance, structure and color. A new twist on classic building blocks, Dado engages your imagination as the slits on each cube are interlocked to create an unlimited number of three-dimensional structures. Constructed horizontally, vertically or nested together, Dado invites visual spatial development and problem solving through design-centered, attention-grabbing fun!”

As soon as my daughter saw the cubes she knew instinctively they were for her. Her eyes brightened as she asked, “Can I play with these?” Of course!

I let her play with them without much interaction or interference from me. I just wanted her to figure out how to play with them on her own at first. I watched her open the package and look at the brightly colored cubes. “How do you do it? Can you help me, Daddy?” she asked. So I sat down and guided her play a little bit. “Do you think the blocks can stack on each other? Try putting the edge of the box through the slit on the bottom.”

Once I showed her the basics, she got the concept and our conversation during playtime included her following actual comments (with my unspoken commentary):

“I’m going to make a truck.” (using imagination to create objects)

“I’m going to make stairs.” (a favorite idea)

“I’m going to make a gate and a house.”

“Will this fit?” (try it and see)

“These are nice! Thanks for getting them!” (glad you appreciated it!)

“Where did you get these?” (notices product uniqueness)

“This is the thing I like to do. This is fun.”

She was engaged in active play with the cubes for 30 minutes and would have played with them longer if it hadn’t been time for dinner. She actually got most of them back in the box on her own, which was also a part of the play experience.

The next day (and every day for a week) she was eager to play with the Dado cubes. It was the first toy she reached for. Even while I was busy doing other things, she would call for me to come see what she created, or bring her creations to show to me. “Do you have another game like this?” she asked.

The following week, I introduced the Dado squares. She was delighted with those and immediately began building a house with different rooms and levels in it. After a few days I suggested that she try to connect the Dado cubes and squares together. She tried, but they didn’t fit together well, which was one of the only cons with this product. However, my daughter soon thought of a new use for the squares; probably one that the inventors hadn’t imagined: she carries them around in her purse and uses them as play money!

What I like about the Dado cubes and squares is how easily I could use them to help trigger creativity and problem solving. I would ask her questions such as: “How can you get the big cubes to balance on the small ones, and vice versa?” “How tall or long can you make your building?”


Game met all of my expectations and then some.

So far none of the pieces have been broken, in spite of vigorous play.


A set of 10 cubes is a great starting point, but it left my daughter wanting more. A larger set (or a double set) would be ideal.

The squares didn’t fit well with the cubes.

Overall opinion:

Hours of fun, exploration, discovery, and creativity can be had for such a “simple" concept. I was very creative as a child and I remember looking at the structure of how things were made. I remember using scissors to cut slits in paper and cardboard and connecting them to make it stand up. Playing with the Dado cubes and squares brought that pleasant memory back to mind. They are destined to be a classic, like Lincoln Logs, Legos, or Tinker Toys.