Building toys, available in a broad array of materials and shapes, spark imagination and allow children to improve coordination, creative thinking, and problem-solving skills. When choosing a set, consider durability, potential to engage and entertain a range of ages, and overall capacity to encourage open-ended play. Our picks below will help you find the best building toys for the young ones in your life.
1. PicassoTiles Building Tiles
Colorful and lightweight plastic tiles with magnetic edges allow users to build both two- and three-dimensional designs. This set of 60 tiles in a variety of triangles (including isosceles, equilateral, and right triangles) and squares introduces basic geometry and engineering skills. Recommended for ages three and up, these tiles are safe for the youngest builders, but their possibilities also grow with your child, providing continued enjoyment as kids get older and are able to build increasingly complex structures.
2. IQ Builder STEM Learning Set
These snap-together pieces offer plenty of options for creative builders. The set contains a wide variety of pieces and has 40 connecting spheres to create constructions of any size. An idea booklet provides photos of suggested creations—short on details, but nice for younger children who aren’t comfortable following written directions but enjoy trying to copy what they see.
3. Jasonwell Building Blocks
This set marries the convenience of plain, versatile building blocks and educational, real-world tools. The large, flat pieces are easy for young kids to handle, and older kids will appreciate the large models they can make. Plastic nuts and bolts serve as connectors that can be tightened with included wrenches and an electric screwdriver. Also included is a pictorial instruction booklet, though the set really lends itself to creative free play.
4. K’nex Building Set
K’nex is known for its innovative connectors that are intuitive, easy to attach, and sturdy. This set features both medium-size and small pieces for miniature models. Best for children ages seven and up, the tiny pieces take some patience to work with but create highly satisfying models like an excavator and an airplane. You get a staggering 420 pieces in the set.
5. Melissa & Doug Construction Set in a Box
The classic wooden pieces of this set will last long enough to be passed down to the next generation of tinkerers. They also look nice, painted in bold red, yellow, blue, and green to add flair to finished designs. Unlike other building toys, this set includes enlarged versions of real hardware so children ages four to six can learn real-life skills while playing. The set even includes a child-size wooden flat-head screwdriver.