Playtime can be fun, safe, and educational with these language blocks from Uncle Goose. Handmade in the United States out of Michigan-grown basswood--and printed with non-toxic, lead-free inks--these blocks contain (simplified) Chinese characters, pictures, pronunciation, the corresponding English word, word construction grids, and a puzzle. I bought these for my daughter, and it's been fun (and fascinating!) to see her language comprehension develop as she starts to associate certain words with their corresponding pictures.
The blocks are well-made and provide endless hours of entertainment for a little one. If Chinese isn't your language of choice, there are also plenty of other options: Spanish, French, Hebrew, Korean, Cherokee, and even Braille. They are a beautiful way to share the gift of language with a child from an early age.
Especially recommended for: your precocious niece, any new parents fixated on their child's development (hint: that's all of them).