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Here is a roundup of some of the best building toys for kids, creative STEM building toys that will can be used by babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers.
Building toys for kids
From tiny babies, children are often fascinated by building things.
Those first tentative towers, that are knocked down with such delight, give way to soaring skyscrapers over the years.
Building and construction is a brilliant developmental activity all the way through childhood.
There are some brilliant building toys around for babies from a few months old.
STEM led play
STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – is a relatively new learning acronym.
However toys and play grounded in STEM has been around for decades.
Creative building and construction toys are well and truly part of STEM learning.
These STEM activities constantly enhance fine motor skills, allow endless creativity and nurture an ever more complex understanding of physical structures and mechanics.
Developing literacy and numeracy skills
Building toys can also provide a great foundation for developing literacy and numeracy skills.
There are some brilliant building and construction toys out there.
Many of them are old classics.
Building toys make a great investment because they will often grow with your child and provide year after year of fun.
Pound for pound, or dollar for dollar, you’ll get more play out of them for your money than out of almost any other toys.
Big list of building toys for kids
This is a list of some of the best building toys around, building toys that we’ve loved and that friends’ kids have loved.
This list is for you if you’re looking for some great building toys to buy for your own baby or child.
I’ve focused on building and construction toys suitable for babies of a few months old up to children aged five.
That said, a lot of these toys will get plenty of use from children older than five.
It’s also great if you’re looking for great gift ideas for Christmas or birthday presents.
In short, use this list to buy some of the best building toys around today. Don’t forget to add some of these toys to your baby essentials shopping list.
Building toys for kids – from baby to five years
1. Soft building blocks
Soft building blocks are wonderful for very small babies and will grow with them throughout their first year.
Blocks with different textures, flaps and tags will enhance their pincer skills even before they are ready to start building and knocking down towers.
This is a lovely set of four grab and stack blocks by Bright Starts.
2. Stacking cups
I could talk for hours about the wonders of stacking cups.
I’m a particular fan of these brightly coloured stacking cups from The First Years.
Your baby can start to really play with them from six months of age and still be playing with them years later.
They help develop fine motor skills, but they will also discover how to sort things by size and the role that size plays in building stable towers.
3. Mega Bloks
Think of Mega Bloks are big Lego (not sure Lego would like the analogy, but hey!).
Talking of Lego, if you’re wondering what the difference is between Mega Bloks and Lego Duplo, the main difference is that Mega Bloks are much easier to pull apart.
This is what makes them so much easier for older babies, toddlers and very young children to use.
We got a big bag of Mega Bloks when my daughter was one year old.
They were played with endlessly.
The Bloks were used to make everything from zoos to fairy gardens, to bridges and castles.
Mega Bloks are also great to use for colour sorting games.
4. Wooden bricks
Toy wooden building blocks are a timeless classic.
I suggest going for sets with lots of different shapes, including cylinders, cuboids and triangles.
Wooden building blocks are a wonderful way for children to start to see and understand that an upper body can be supported by smaller lower bodies.
Melissa & Doug has a brilliant set of 100 brilliantly coloured bricks at a very reasonable price.
5. Sticking bricks
Sticking bricks are another building toy classic.
The plastic pins on sticking bricks give children the flexibility to make all sorts of structures that they couldn’t do with conventional bricks.
The pins also help them see the power of adhesion in building structures.
I think sticking bricks are great for kids from anywhere between two and three years of age. They might well find them frustrating before then.
6. Octons / connectagons
Octons are building toys that allow children to create beautiful, fragile structures that have all sorts of angles.
They are brilliant for developing fine motor skills in children from three years of age upward.
They also inspire children to appreciate three dimensional structures and repeating geometrical patterns.
This is what Octons look like, they’re by Galt.
7. Dado building toys
Much like octons, Dado allows children to build complex three dimensional structures from interlocking shapes.
The Dado pieces are much bigger than octon shapes so children can build really big constructions.
8. Marble runs
Marble runs are just SO MUCH FUN!
They give endless opportunities for clever solutions and there is something unerringly fascinating about watching things fall.
Galt do several version of marble runs, this is the super marble run.
If you want something that’s made of wood and will be passed down through the generations, then how about this Hape wooden marble run? It’s certainly an investment piece, but totally lovely.
It also comes in smaller versions, if you really can’t spend big bucks on it.
9. Gears building toys
You might think that gear toys are more for older children.
However, even babies as young as four months can enjoy simple gears, like this lovely set by Melissa & Doug.
Babies love the twisting movement of gears and are fascinated by turning one thing and making something else move.
As children get older they are constantly challenged by building ever more complex mechanical interdependencies and things that actually move.
This is where this brilliant set by Gears Gears comes into play, it’s suitable for children aged three upwards.
10. Suction building toys
Children understand gravity from a very early age.
They know that if they drop something it will fall.
So babies and small children are also fascinated by forces like static and magnetism and materials that can apparently defy gravity.
Malleable plastic toys with suction connectors, such as these from Squigz, allow young kids to build wonderful structures that apparently defy everything they’ve learnt about the rules of gravity.
11. Connecting straws
Connecting straws are another timeless classic that, like Squigz, allow children to create elegant, apparently gravity defying structures and to appreciate the strength of curves and bends in supporting structures.
This set is by ToyMyToy and has 300 straws, which means that kids can build some BIG structures!
There are also plenty of other connecting straw sets to choose from.
And finally… LEGO!
What list of building toys would be complete without Lego?!
Lego has kept millions of children happy for many many many hours of play.
Lego Duplo is brilliant from three years of age and kids can graduate up to the smaller Lego and then onto the myriad options of themed sets.
This is a Lego Duplo set has two child LEGO DUPLO figures, a treehouse with slide, swing area with windmill and a bouncy car ride, with extra pieces to inspire creative play.
However, classic Lego, that leaves the child to do all the imagining and creating will always be number one in my book.
I really hope you find some useful ideas for building and construction toys that will help give your baby, toddler, pre-schooler or young child some great STEM inspired play.
Possibly the best thing of all with these building toys is that they are a brilliant way for parents to get down, play and interact with their kids. I have certainly spent many a happy hour doing just that.
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Luci is the founder of Mums Make Lists (Est. 2011). Over the last decade or so, she has used her experience as a mum to create useful guides to organising family life. During that time, she has found the most joy in creating lists of ideas and inspiration to make it easier for busy parents to plan and host kids’ parties and find great gifts. Read more.