We had some visitors come and stay with us last weekend. My daughter is really wary around strangers, so I was very happy that she handled the visitors so well. She relaxed enough to stop giving them the evil eye and went on to smile and play with them some. At one point, one of our visitors mentioned what a nice set of alphabet blocks she had and I was so confused. My daughter doesn’t have any blocks.

I looked up and responded, “Oh, you mean the jingle cubes.”

My husband and I discussed at one point that normal parents probably don’t refer to their child’s toys by the proper geometrical shapes. But these are clearly cubes:

And these very beautiful jingle cubes (they each have a bell inside them so they jingle when my daughter shakes them) were made for us by a mathematician, so I think we should call them cubes.

Of course, geometry has never been my strong point, so I may have to do some research if I want to continue this trend of calling her toys by their right names.

We definitely have spheres (left below), cubes (above), and cylinders (right below) of many different types. Here are a couple:

And of course, it will be important for my daughter to know that this is a ‘truncated icosahedron’: (Mathematica Website)

It has 32 faces and is apparently also the shape used for soccer balls. So this seems important for her to know, right?

My daughter does not have a set of blocks yet, but we are hoping to get her a nice set of wooden blocks, maybe for her birthday. I think I may have to just resort to calling them blocks unless some of my mathematician friends can help fill in the empty place in my brain where geometrical shapes should go.

Of course, at some point, I think we should just call a giraffe, a giraffe and not worry about its shape:

For those of you who are physicists out there, you know that geometrical shapes are not really important since we tend to approximate chickens as point particles and cows as spheres. Anything else is too complicated for us. For those of you who are not physicists and wonder why we care about chickens and cows…well, I am not sure I can explain physics humor, but we think it’s funny. Ah, my poor kid is going to be so embarassed by her mom.

The jingle cubes will always be jingle cubes, though. And they have been a favorite of my daughter’s for a long time. First, they were so big, she needed both hands to grab them and they helped her learn hand coordination. Then, she loved to chew on them (like everything else). Then, her hands grew and her coordination improved so that now she holds one in each hand and shakes them and knocks them together to make music. Maybe soon she will start to stack them, and then (in the distant future) use them to spell words. They really are fantastic, multipurpose jingle cubes.

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Do you have the instructions for your darling jingle cubes? I am planning on making a bunch to donate to children at a battered woman’s shelter. Thanks.

I am sorry but I don’t have a pattern. The jingle cubes were a gift, but one of my favorites – good luck!