My Children's Favorite Building Toys - Must Haves for Children of All Ages
Building sets are among my children’s favorite toys, and we have lots of them. Building toys provide lots of opportunities for open ended play. While all those pieces means lot of cleaning up they are worth it for the creative play opportunities they offer. Here are some of the best building play sets no matter what age your child may be.
Toddler Building Equals Stacking
For children ages 1 – 3 building is akin to stacking, of course safety is major concern since children this age put everything in their mouths. You need to look for building sets with large pieces. In general, if a piece will pass through a toilet paper roll it is best to save until kids are a bit older. But there are still plenty of building toys for this age group.
Basic wooden blocks are always a hit and will be used long after the toddler years. These are safe and easy to stack. If you want something with more than just staking potential think about adding a set of wooden alphabet blocks. And while you may not think of them as a traditional building toy, toddlers love to stack cups, which also make great tub toys. And as a more traditional building toy, look for plastic Duplo building blocks. Duplo blocks are large Legos made for toddlers and preschool aged children.
Preschool Building Fun
Children ages 3 – 5 are (mostly) past the stage of putting every toy into their mouths. You children will still find uses for their wooden blocks and Duplo blocks, but now there is a whole new building world opened up to them. Consider a simple plastic marble track, which my children loved for years. This is also a great time to introduce more complex building toys like the classic Tinker Toys, wooden sticks and discs that let children build large structures. Another classic is Lincoln Logs that lets children create buildings with notched wooden logs. Children this age like to build big. Large cardboard blocks are great for building child sized structures. Another fun large building toy is No Ends. Large plastic tubes with connectors let kids build child sized forts and planes that they can actually play in.
Elementary School Builders
Early Elementary School and Beyond
Once children enter school they are often ready to leave behind their “baby” toys in favor of toys designed for “big kids” ages 5 -8. At this age children are ready for regular Lego sets with the small pieces and more complex instructions. But Legos still offer a lot of open ended play. If your children enjoyed a simple marble track as preschoolers now is the time to add a more complex set with flexible track that allows for roller coaster like designs. Regular K’Nex are also a great addition to your playroom for this age group. The motors available with some sets can make vehicles move. Another classic is Erector Sets, which allows children to build a variety of objects using tools. Even past the early elementary school years children can still enjoy Legos and K’Nex as the models get more and more complicated for more accomplished builders.
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