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?
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.