The Y received a Mellisa and Doug pattern block puzzle set a few months ago.
It says it for ages 2+. Y loves puzzles, so she immediately gravitated toward this gift. She figured out how to put all of the puzzles together after about two tries. She's known the name of the basic shapes (circle, oval, diamond, rectangle, square, and triangle) since she was about 20 months old. She's learning more complex shapes with the use of this toy:
She's learned about pentagons, hexagons, octagons, trapezoids, parallelograms, etc. with her clock toy. She spends quite a bit of time taking them out, turning the pieces over, and putting them back into place. She quickly learned that the parallelogram is the only shape that cannot be put in backward!
Now that she's mastered her basic pattern block set, she started using pattern blocks for what they are meant to be used for - putting the individual shapes together to make larger, more complex shapes and designs. One morning she was playing around with her pattern blocks, and she declared, "Look! I can put two triangles together to make a square!"
It's amazingly fascinating and rather satisfying watching the Y explore and discover in her own way - without an adult telling her what to do and how to do it.