Best construction toys for kids
Building sets are the blank canvas of the toy world, ready to be transformed into something new every time your child opens the box. Stimulating creativity isn’t their only benefit, though.
“Lots of construction toys involve an element of logic and strategy, which is good, as well as promoting a basic understanding of physics – for example, how to build a solid base or the fact that if elements of the construction lean over too far they will fall down,” explains Dr Amanda Gummer, a child psychologist specialising in play and parenting. “If a parent is playing with their child they can start to introduce some of these advanced concepts in a non-threatening, easy-to-understand way. For younger children differently-sized and coloured pieces offer valuable language development opportunities, too.”
Good for social development, construction toys can be played with solo or co-operatively, and the different shapes and sizes of the pieces build manual dexterity. “Big blocks for younger children help develop the big arm muscles and some of the sets with smaller pieces require fine motor control, so they aid physical development and help children develop the control needed for skills such as handwriting,” says Dr Gummer.
We've built, assembled and knocked down a lot of towers – and this is TheSchoolRun's pick of some of the best construction toys for all ages.
Building instructions, games and inspiration are available online, and LEGO-mad kids might like to know that there are 13 certified LEGO Professional builders in the world, so there’s a chance they could one day make a living from their hobby. Just beware of stepping on bricks with bare feet…
Construction challenges using Meccano are part of the Beaver and Cub Creativity badge, so young Scouts will be used to building in this medium – will cars, planes, robots or helicopters be the result? Prices start at £7.99 for a Mini Dinosaur set.
Gears! Gears! Gears!®
You can build upwards and sideways, trying different combinations to make your construction come alive and move in different directions – a great trial-and-error way to get children thinking about physics and movement. Start with a Beginner Set, then add extension and motorised sets to your collection.
Children can link them together to create different structures, developing geometric reasoning as they build 2D nets and 3D shapes, from simple cubes to amazing rhombicubooctahedrons! The results are modern-art-like and adults find the construction process just as engrossing as kids do! There are loads of different sets available, from the My First line (suitable from 18 months) to the vehicles sets with wheels and the eye-catching neon LED collection.
Build it with Bob
A great way to promote hands-on manual dexterity in older children.
Panels can be added to form rigid structures, and the results can be weird and wonderful – fans upload photos on the Geomag website, which can be a great source of inspiration. If your Y3 child is bored by talk of magnets at school, challenge them to use magnetism to build a skyscraper and make the science come to life.
The toy can be used lit up or turned off – once connected to a power source, each peg illuminates the other pegs it’s connected with through a low-voltage current. Start with a beginner set; step-by-step model construction and plans are available online.
Eco-friendly (the wood comes from certified renewable forests), Citiblocs require no glue, snaps, connectors or magnets (so no mess – hurrah!), just gravity, balance and creativity.