Building Toys for Kids – the many benefits and options

There are many different types of building toys for kids, with more being introduced every year.

  • Which options will best suit your child?
  • Which sets offer the best opportunity for ongoing expansion and increased challenge as your children get older?
  • Why should your children have building toys at all?
  • What about sets designed to help children learn STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills?

    Lego City gives many play options and has lots of add on sets

    Lego City gives many play options and has lots of add on sets

It is very easy to buy good toys for babies and toddlers. They have so much to learn that almost any type of educational toy will interest them. Parents have learnt that early education is important and this market is huge with an almost limitless choice of learning toys.Zoob 500 piece building set

As the children get older they start to get bored with these “baby toys” and it becomes more difficult to find toys that interest them for more than just a few days or weeks. This is not only a problem when children move from toddler stage to young children, but is ongoing as they get older.

Building toys (or construction sets) are one type of toy that has interested my children through different ages. From about the age of 4 my children have played with Lego blocks and my 17 year old daughter still enjoys it when she has the opportunity between her studies. I know that they will still play with Lego sets for many years to come. The same is also true of other types of construction sets.

Building toys are educational

Learn about how gears work by building working models of real-world machines

Learn about how gears work by building working models of real-world machines

Building sets are not only fun and a good way to keep children busy for many hours, they also have many educational benefits. They have become known as STEM toys that help children to develop essential skills needed in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. A good example of sets designed specifically for this purpose is the K’Nex simple Machines range that teaches kids the scientific concepts of simple machines while they build their own working models.

Many of these toys are also creative, allowing the child to experiment with their own designs and ideas. An excellent example for this is the Zoob Challenge Set that provides challenges and the kids have to come up with their own designs to solve the challenge.

Children may also improve their spatial skills because they have to visualize the instructional pictures (2-dimensional) into the real 3-dimensional model that they are building.

Some schools have recognized the benefits that these types of toys offer in education and have them available for children to play with in the classroom. In later years some classes use them to create models for science or mathematics and using them to teach valuable concepts related to the subject. The number of sets designed for use in schools to aid teachers in various subjects has also grown in the past few years.

They are timeless toys

If you make good choices when you buy building toys then your children will play with them for years to come. You can expand many of the sets with additional, smaller sets and the more basic sets can still be used with more complex sets later on.

A good example is Lego. The Lego construction sets have been on the market for about 70 years and many parents and grandparents played with Lego as children. They are still very popular and have not gone out of fashion. Some of the themed sets may have become outdated, but children have not lost their love to create and build.

Social and family interaction

Equilibrio Game

Puzzles that include balance

If you have a big enough building set then this can be a very good option to keep a few children busy. This can also help to develop their social skills and to teach them to work together.

It can also be a great way for a family to spend time together. Parents can get involved and help smaller children to complete their models, or have some sort of building competition with older children. With larger sets each person can build different models that can be used to play with when the building is done.

There are also a few toys on the market that are really games instead of building sets. These building games are great for a family game night and the different options will cater for different ages and different levels of capability.

Themed sets cater for different children

high-speed passenger train

Race around the track, pick up a passenger and take them safely to their destination.

With the wide range of building sets that are available, there is likely to be a set that will interest almost every child. There are many themed sets that can be used to introduce children to building toys. Many people see these sets as being for boys and it can be a little more difficult to get some girls interested in them. Some of the toy manufacturers have paid attention to this problem and there are some sets that are specifically targeted at girls.

To find a set that might interest your child you need to look at what they enjoy playing with and see what sets could be used to extend the play of those toys. For example, if a girl enjoys playing with dolls then look for a basic set that can be used to build furniture for the dolls, or that can be used to create a park or zoo that the dolls can visit. Perhaps a farm set if they enjoy horses and ponies.

I think you get the idea.

A working model of a crane

A working model of a crane

Introducing children to engineering

Some of the more advanced construction sets include parts that move and make working models. The most well-known are the Lego Technic range and Meccano, but these are not the only ones. These include parts like hinges, pulleys, gears and motors to make them work. Children quickly develop an understanding of how these parts work together to make the model move and perform specific functions.

The sets available for working models also range from those that are quite simple and can be completed by younger children to very advanced sets targeted at teenagers and even adults.

And then we get the robotic building kits

If you thought that robotics was something reserved for scientists and labs then think again. Older children can now get the opportunity to make their own robots. Some are very basic, but some are more advanced and can even be programmed to do different things.

Many of these kits will integrate with the more basic building sets of the same brand and allow children to make their own robotic creations and integrate them with other play options. For the more advanced kits the children will also be introduced to software programming.

The options are almost unlimited

Realistic looking creatures can be made with Zoob building sets

Realistic looking creatures can be made with Zoob building sets

From this brief introduction you can see that building toys offer many options for children of different ages, from younger children through the teens and even into adulthood. These types of toys are definitely a worthwhile investment and, with clever purchases, the sets can be expanded to keep the interest of growing children. With the added benefit that they are educational toys, you need not worry that the time is being wasted. Your children are developing essential skills while they are building and having fun.

I will be looking at many different types of building toys and giving you some insight into each type. With so many options available to us, it can be quite a task to decide on which type of construction set will suit your child. I have written another article about things to consider when choosing construction sets that will give you some tips on what to look for.

Keep an eye out for new articles that will give you information on specific types of building toys. If there are specific toys that you would like me to research for you, please leave a comment and I will try to assist as best I can.

22 thoughts on “Building Toys for Kids – the many benefits and options

    1. Lesley Post author

      Thank you. I am glad that you found it useful. One has to be careful of the different types so as not to frustrate the children with sets that can’t work together.

      Reply
  1. Claire

    Hi Lesley
    I still love playing with Lego and Duplo and I’m 31!
    When I see my nieces and nephews, I think I enjoy playing with some of their toys more than they do!
    Claire 🙂

    Reply
    1. Lesley Post author

      I think there is a part of us that just doesn’t really grow up. I also still enjoy being able to build things, but I just don’t have the time for it.

      Reply
  2. IanW

    The moment I saw your your page I immediately thought of Meccano and wondered if it would get a mention. It took a little while but sure enough it was there about half way down the page. Thanks!

    Those green and red metal parts together with those dozens of brass nuts and bolts are still well remebered after more than 60 years. In fact I have a school photo of my barefoot father with his Meccano model dated about 1925. Things were tough then – no shoes.

    I agree with all that you say here about buildng toys rather than just purchasing the latest expensive ‘educational’ toy for your children. So often the novelty quickly wears off. Whereas building toys can be reworked into a new form time and time again.

    I would be interested to hear your view on building model aircraft or boats as an adjuct to building toys. Model building uses many of the same skills but you generally cannot decontruct you model once it is completed.

    Reply
    1. Lesley Post author

      Tthanks for stopping by Ian. I am glad that I did not disappoint you with the Meccano. Up to now I have not considered model building and it may have a place on my site in the future, or perhaps it is big enough to have a site on its own. Thanks for the suggestion, I am adding it to my ideas list.

      Reply
  3. Matthew

    Hello Lesley,
    Great article! I remember playing with Lego as a child and it still interests me today. I think parents often buy their kids these sorts of toys so that they can play themselves!
    I especially like how building sets can ignite a child’s imagination and get them playing with a wide range of toys all at once. They may have a doll that is twice the size of a Lego house but it doesn’t matter; when you’re a child anything is possible!
    Thanks,
    Matthew

    Reply
    1. Lesley Post author

      I agree! Children often combine their building sets with other toys and get great fun and educational benefit out of it. some building sets need you to use other items around the house to complete the challenges, like the Zoob Challenge set.

      Reply
  4. Florence Ki

    I love building things. Totally agree that this is the type of activity that can promote bonding and improve children’s imagination. I believe more in experiential hands on learning rather than classroom style learning. I developed activity training modules too. It is all about building things to learn STEM skills. I will definitely share your post with my mommy bloggers.

    Reply
    1. Lesley Post author

      It is really great that there are all these toys available to help kids learn. It is sad that so many kids spend too much time watching TV and playing on electronic games that don’t teach them much.

      Reply
  5. Shivaram

    I read your article about building toys for kids. I should say that your article is pretty detailed and clear. There is lots of valuable information that you provide for children. This is indeed a great resource for children and I am sure that it will help anyone who are interested in buying building toys for kids.

    Reply
    1. Lesley Post author

      My hope is that I will be able to help people make the best choices when they are shopping for building toys for older kids, or even sets for use in schools. Some of these sets are even great challenges for adults!

      Reply
  6. Tawnya

    My youngest is 7 and has played with many Lego sets in the past. Problem is he tends to get bored with them quick.

    I had never heard of Zoob before but like the idea of the challenges. Do you know what types of challenges these building kits pose? Are there different types of sets?

    My son loves building things on Minecraft, but I limit the amount of time he can use electronics. Would love to find something to keep his attention AND engage his mind.

    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Lesley Post author

      Variety is a good way to keep young minds occupied so adding different types of sets should help to get your son interested in building different things. The Zoob Challenge Set comes with a few instructions and then a set of challenges like getting a ball from one side of the room to the other without it touching the floor. they can combine the set with household items to complete the challenges. There are also many other Zoob sets available that will fit with each other and can make the building experience a lot more fun. Just make sure that you stick with the same type (example the sets must all be Zoob Classic to work with each other).

      I have provided links to the more detailed posts above so that you can get more information. Hope this works out for you.

      Reply
  7. max

    Hello Lesmyb! I truly found great interest in reading your article because it was not long ago that I played with such toys. I absolutely agree with what you said; they are a way to learn and amuse children at the same time. They will keep both kids and adults amused. Keep it up!

    Reply
    1. Lesley Post author

      Thanks for stopping by.

      It is becoming more of a challenge to keep children busy with worthwhile, educational activities. I love these types of building toys and often join in with the kids to have some good family time.

      Reply
    1. Lesley Post author

      I hope you find some building toys that your kids will enjoy. If you are getting them a new type of building toy, try to get them something with a lot of pieces so that they can really experience it.

      Reply
  8. Sam

    Good Job!
    You have categorized the toys perfectly. Not only that, you let parents realize how different and more developed the world is now, compared to our childhood. Sometimes makes me feel jealous of my child; It might not be the right word to use but it’s the TRUTH. It doesn’t mean that I’m not buying these types of toys for my kid; Actually I’m doing it and I believe that the genetic mutations which makes next generations more clever than their parents and ancestors is directly in relation with the world’s development and the technology progressing every hour!

    Reply
    1. Lesley Post author

      Hi Sam, thanks for the visit.
      I agree that the development of the world and especially technology plays a large role in the development of each generation. I also believe that giving children the right environment and the right toys to play with makes a big difference in their development, both physical and mental. If we ignore the benefits of these types of toys it is at the expense of the development of our children.
      Some of the toys on this site are great for adults too.

      Reply
  9. Ridley Fitzgerald

    I really like the idea of my kids playing with these building kits. I remember playing with LEGOS when I was a kid, and I loved them. Like you said, they can help a child work through problems, and build their engineering and math skills. That’s more than video games do!

    Reply
    1. Lesley Post author

      With the many different building kits on the market there should be something to suite every child and get them interested. My kids really enjoy their building toys and having a variety goes a long way to keeping them interested.

      Reply

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