What better way to build up your child’s imagination, critical thinking skills and creativity than with a decent set of building toys?
Usually people think Legos when it comes to building blocks, but for once, we’re going to keep Legos on the sidelines so you can browse through some of the other great options that kids seem to love these days.
There are a few things to consider before you choose, which is exactly what we’ll help you with in our list of the best building toys below!
Before You Choose
Before filling the toy bin with yet another toy, here are a few things to think about before you choose:
- Child’s Age. Narrow down your options by finding an age-appropriate toy. We’ve listed the manufacturer’s recommended ages for you in our list below, which will help you find something that has the right size pieces for their age as well as the right difficulty level.
- Starter Set. If the child doesn’t already have the toy, then it’s probably best for you to get them a starter set.
These have everything that beginners need and you can always add on to the collection later with additional pieces (sold separately).
- Type of Challenge. Think about the type of challenge the toy will present and what skills it will help nurture. Do they hone in on construction skills, engineering skills, math skills, science skills or technology skills? A mixture of all of them?
Look for something that will provide a challenge for the child but that won’t end up being too frustrating. If you’re giving a gift to a child you don’t know well, ask the parent(s) beforehand to see if it’s something they’d like.
Top 6 Building Toys Table
Types of Building Toys
There are quite a variety of building toys out there. Here are the main choices:
- Construction. Magna-Tiles, Brain Flakes and Mega Bloks are great construction toys. They’re good for children who like to build things in a more artistic way.
- Engineering. Gears! Gears! Gears! and K’NEX are some excellent examples of engineering building toys.
These usually include things like gears, motors, pulleys, hinges, etc. in the kit along with all of the pieces the child needs to build the finished product.
Many allow you to create a mixture of the two and some are robotic.
Zoob, for example, is a unique option that kids enjoy because it incorporates a mixture of skills and the pieces can move. It touches on the STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) principles while allowing kids to remain creative.
The best building toys are ones that have the power to engage even the pickiest kids!
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Magna-Tiles contain little magnets that allow kids to hook them together. The link between the pieces is more delicate than the click-and-snap pieces you’d get from something like Legos, and we love this about them because it teaches kids to work more delicately (think of Jenga for us adults).
Kids can create 3D figures or lay them flat. The possibilities are endless! Plus, you’ll appreciate that they’re easier to see.
Don’t be scared away by the price tag. This toy is absolutely worth it. Parents rave about it and so do kids! An investment that will last for years.
Skills it Develops: math, science, spatial and fine motor skills.
Since regular Legos are too small for toddlers, Mega Bloks are an excellent alternative.
The larger pieces make them safer and easier for younger children to use and you’ll love that the pieces (and bag) are PVC-free and BPA-free. It also comes with wheels so your little one can create their own unique vehicles.
This is the ideal gift for toddlers when you don’t know what to get them (and if they don’t already have a set of blocks). Bright colors, endless possibilities and a very budget-friendly price tag!
Skills it Develops: discovery, fine motor skills, creativity and open-ended play.
Stimulate your child’s brain with some Brain Flakes!
These little flakes (larger than a quarter) are interlocking plastic discs that you can use to make just about anything. They allow your child to create cute, artistic sculptures, intricate sculptures that require a bit of critical thinking and everything in between.
These flakes will most likely end up all around the house (just like Legos). You might want something with larger pieces like the Magna-Tiles we suggested. The package doesn’t really come with building suggestions or instructions, so you’ll need to head to the internet for some tutorials (Viahart, the manufacturer, provides some).
Most little builders love these flakes and they’re affordable.
Skills it Develops: spatial thinking, engineering, creativity, science, technology, math.