Building blocks, while still a relatively simple toy, remains one of the most critical valuable learning experiences for young children. Whether they’re stacking them or creating more complex structures, children are (unknowingly) learning in all areas of development, including intellectual, physical, and social-emotional and language.
We live in a world where success is driven not only by what you know but also by what you can do with it. In a world that is becoming increasingly complex, it’s more important than ever for our youth to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to solve tough problems, gather and evaluate evidence, and make sense of information. Educators are globally encouraging students to study science, technology, engineering, and math—subjects known as STEM. And believe it or not, blocks help children nurture and develop skills in each of these disciplines. Those building blocks, a staple in every playroom, are literally building a solid foundation for our little ones.
So next time you stand on one of those odd-shaped yet strangely always sharp-edged pieces in the middle of the night, you can ease the pain knowing you’re giving your child the very best start in life.
We have compiled a list of the best building toys for kids from 6 months old to tweens. We spent over twenty hours researching and playing to create a list where each building set has a specific feature or is relevant for a particular age to help parents select the best set for their child.
Best Building Toys of 2020
Mega Bloks First Builders Big Building Bag
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LEGO Classic Medium Creative Brick Box
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PicassoTiles 60 Piece Set Magnet Building Tiles
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Ravensburger GraviTrax XXL Starter Set
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Viahart Brain Flakes Interlocking Plastic Disc Set
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Klutz Lego Chain Reactions Science & Building Kit
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IQ Builder Stem Learning Toys
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Brickyard Building Blocks 163 STEM Toys Kit
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Melissa & Doug Standard Wooden Blocks
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K’ NEX 35 Model Building Set
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1. Best for Toddlers: Mega Bloks First Builders Big Building Bag
The Mega Blok First Builders Big Building Bag is a great set of building toys for kids from age one-year-old to five-year-old. The building blocks are designed for small hands to comfortably grip and hold while stacking towers. The blocks are also safe for handling by a 1-year-old without accidentally swallowing a small part. The colors and shapes may grow with the child and keep them entertained up to five years old.
A storage bag keeps the blocks together and is a neat and tidy way to store the blocks in the cupboard or toy storage box. Your little one should be able to remove the blocks from the bag without any help from mom. The bag is also an ideal opportunity to teach your toddler how to clean up after play from a young age.
The set of 80 blocks are more than enough to build towers as tall as your toddler or other imaginative objects like castles, animals, buildings, or numbers. The bright classic colors appeal to toddlers, and the different shapes may inspire your little one even more. The building blocks are designed to help develop your child’s fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and multiple hours of open-ended play and fun while learning about primary colors, spatial planning, and counting.
Although the bags are in standard colors, the storage bags come in blue or pink for a little girl.
2. Best for Preschoolers: LEGO Classic Medium Creative Brick Box
With the LEGO Classic Medium Creative Brick Box’s 35 different colors and 18 tires with wheel rims, there is no limit to what your four-year-old can create. LEGO is famous for its building toys for kids of all ages. This 484-piece creative kit is one of the best LEGO sets for a preschooler, and with lots of wheels, there is no stopping the imagination!
The green baseplate, measuring 3 inches by 6 inches, is a good-sized construction site to get things started. Who knows what your child will creatively build on the baseplate with the wheels, toy eyes, windows, and ample bricks in the kit?
If building with LEGOs is new to them, a story starter idea should spark adventurous play hours. The unique pieces allow for building a windmill, flowers, and the train pictured on the storage box. Parents beware, if your story-starter means demonstrating by making something, you could find yourself hours later still happily adventuring with your kids. After all, LEGO bricks are designed for the creative imaginations of all ages…
The LEGO Creative Brick playset is compatible with all LEGO construction sets, allowing you to expand the sets as your child’s skills improve or they grow older and want to construct more elaborate projects. The LEGO Junior product range is also designed for kids from 4-7 years old.
3. Best 3D Creativity: PicassoTiles 60 Piece Set Magnet Building Tiles
The PicassoTiles 60 Piece Set with its clear 3D color magnetic building blocks may inspire your preschooler to dream big and complete artistic, architectural designs unique to your child. PicassoTiles are fun building toys that challenge your kid to explore their arty and creative skills.
Learning by playing is one of the best and, for sure, the most enjoyable way to improve skills. The clear but colorful 3D magnetic shapes inspire kids from three-years and older to explore building with 3D forms. It also teaches them counting, colors, and how polarities of magnets work.
The tile dimensions of the triangular and square-shaped building blocks are not all the same, which adds another educational element to the building toy. Teachers may use toys for building to teach children in a fun way about shapes, dimensions, number counts, and working with 3D forms.
It is frustrating if your little one enjoys a toy, and then parts break and are not replaceable. With these building blocks, parents have the option to expand their kid’s toy collection. The magnetic tiles are also replaceable, and there is no limit to enlarging the child’s toys building set for more intrinsic creations.
4. Best Marble Run: Ravensburger GraviTrax XXL Starter Set
If your child is fascinated with a marble run, then the Ravensburger GraviTrax XXL Starter Set Marble Run is an excellent building toy for your child. The construction toy is one of the best building toys for kids who enjoy creating engineering gadgets. It is also a unique build toy for any curious child eight years old and up. GraviTrax was one of the 2019 Toy of The Year Finalists and featured on the “Live with Kelly and Ryan” TV show as one of the best products at the 2018 New York toy fair.
The GraviTrax XXL Starter Set is a STEM building toy for budding engineers and the perfect birthday or Christmas gift for boys and girls. The interactive track system allows children to build their unique racetracks. While building intricate tracks for the marble ball to run, kids learn the effect of gravity, kinetics, and magnetics on the marbles. Children develop and strengthen spatial reasoning, problem-solving, and planning skills as they develop the perfect track and means to propel the marble ball forward.
The XXL Starter Set comes with 240 track pieces, including three action accessories essential for propelling the ball forward, for crazy trick shots, and to stop the ball at the end of the track. Included in the package are 9 track designs with clear instructions and 24 fun challenges. Expansion packs are available for building even more astonishing, and elaborate marble runs.
5. Best Spatial Thinking: Viahart Brain Flakes Interlocking Plastic Disc Set
The Viahart Brain Flakes Interlocking Plastic Disc Set is one of the best building toys that teach kids how to solve problems using their spatial thinking skills. Famous people like Leonardo Da Vinci and architect Leoh Ming Pei were spatial thinkers. The 500 interlocking disc set may entice budding engineers, artists, mathematicians, designers, and kids who enjoy fun challenges.
Unlike many building toys that consist of building blocks, the Viahart Brain Flakes construction sets are made of interlocking discs that look like gears. The discs snap together, and children from five years old should be able to lock the discs along with ease. Some three-year-old toddlers may also be able to build with this building set. Each disc measures 1.3 inches across and is 1/10th inch thick. Be mindful that the pieces could be choking hazards for younger kids.
Each set comes with an idea booklet, and the instructions on how to build a Brain Flakes ball is one way of getting your kids started with the new toy. The design possibilities, however, are endless and depend on your child’s imagination and creativity. The construction set is ideal for homeschoolers, daycares, school classrooms, and recreational fun at home.
The discs and storage jar are child-safe and designed from durable plastic that is BPA-free, lead-free, metal-free, and phthalate-free. The building toys for kids comply with ASTM and US CPSIA safety regulations.
6. Best STEM Science: Klutz Lego Chain Reactions Science & Building Kit
The Klutz Lego Chain Reactions Science & Building Kit is a STEM toy that inspires kids to build moving machines. The playset features instructions to build 10 modules and is recommended for kids ages eight years and older.
Kids can build from an easy, medium, to advance machines following the instructions. The STEM toy is designed to construct a seesaw with ramp, dominoes, slow spin, pulley with a bucket, elevator ramps, and more. It all depends on your little one’s science experience and desire to develop their STEM skills. The detailed instructions contain brightly colored illustrations, tips on how to fix problems, how to substitute bricks, and the physics behind each machine.
Although it is fun to build the models shown in the instructions, it is tempting to create your unique device with all the exciting components. With 33 LEGO elements, 6 LEGO balls, string, ramps, paper pop-up signs, a flag, funnel, and a bucket, the possibilities are endless.
It is one of the best building toys sets that is entertaining, fun to play with, and educational. Children may enjoy and be entertained for hours while strengthening their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and learning to think outside the box.
7. Best Construction Set: IQ Builder Stem Learning Toys
The IQ Builder Stem Learning Toys are educational toys focusing on STEM subjects to prepare children for their future. The playset places a strong emphasis on STEM learning and helps children develop their critical thinking, problem-solving, and reasoning skills in a fun but educational way.
The building toy design was inspired by teachers to assist children in elementary school up to adult graduate degree programs. Children learn about physics, mathematics, and geometry during play, varying from a beginner to an advanced level. The playset also helps with communication skills as children design and construct projects together.
Each ball has 26 connecting points, and with four different length connector pieces and shapes, children may design exciting toys. The flexibility of the connector pieces and the various difficulty levels of designs, the play set provides the options to produce any inspired creations at any age.
The toy pieces and the container are tested for child safety. The tests were done independently by a CPSC approved laboratory in the USA confirming the items are BPA-free, lead-free, and phthalate-free. The storage container with a convenient carry handle is sturdy for storage and portability.
8. Best STEM Engineering: Brickyard Building Blocks 163 STEM Toys Kit
The Brickyard Building Blocks is a STEM play set that inspires construction engineering for one child or a group of kids. With more pieces and building tools, the 163-piece building toys kit allows for up to six children to experiment with their engineering skills.
It is designed to teach children science, technology, engineering, and math skills in a fun but productive way. A full-color guide includes 42 designs for kids to build from three-year-old toddlers to older kids. The six-building tools, including four dual-purpose wrenches, a child-friendly screwdriver, and a combination wrench, make it possible for kids to work on their design or work together as a team project. Children also learn teamwork, communication skills, social skills, and collaboration during their interactive play. The custom designed bolts have a built-in screwdriver slot making it possible to use with the screwdriver or wrench.
The 163 pieces are manufactured from non-toxic materials certified as BPA-free, phthalate-free, lead-free, and cadmium-free. The durable storage box teaches kids to clean up after play by packing the pieces back in the box for safe storage.
9. Best Imaginative Play: Melissa & Doug Standard Wooden Blocks
The Melissa & Doug Standard Wooden Blocks are one of the best building toys for your little one. The solid wood building blocks are designed for imaginative play while educating children. Kids may strengthen and develop their gross motor skills, math skills, and hand-eye-coordination while demonstrating their construction creativity.
Melissa & Doug’s wooden toys are high-quality toys, and this building set is no exception. The 60 natural-finished wooden blocks come conveniently in a beautiful wooden crate for storage purposes. The hardwood blocks are precisely measured, cut, and smooth-sanded for safe play. No splinters or uneven edges may scratch your little one or damage their clothing. The smooth edges and wood quality of these construction toys may last for years providing joyous play for your toddler and perhaps your grandkids too.
Whether your toddler builds towers or knocks them down, the wooden blocks building toy is a great birthday gift for ages three to eight years.
10. Best for Elementary School: K’ NEX 35 Model Building Set
TheK’Nex 35 Model Building Set is building toys for kids in elementary school to develop thinking skills, fine motor skills, and problem-solving techniques. These educational building toys challenge tweens and kids up to 12 years old to creatively construct interactive models that they can play with, take apart and reassemble.
The building set comes with 480 classic K’Nex parts and pieces, including rods and connector joints attached to each other to inspire soaring imaginations. Snap-fit pieces stick together securely, ensuring your design does not cave in because of poorly fitted connections. The construction could collapse because of novice mistakes, which could motivate kids to solve the problem and improve their model.
Kids can create their unique models, toys, and figures or build one of the 35 models displayed in the easy to follow instruction booklet. The building toy allows for the construction of trucks, planes, spaceships, helicopters, dinosaurs, and tons of other imaginative objects and creations. Kids who like to play with their models may appreciate the movable parts giving movement to otherwise stationary objects.
A handy treasure chest stores all the building set pieces and parts in one place so that none are lost. These building sets are made in the USA.
11. Best for 6-Months: Fat Brain Toys Tobbles Neo
The Fat Brain Toys Tobbles Neo stacking playset is meant to topple over. Curious 6-months old infants and young kiddos may delight in stacking a wobbly tower at strange angles that defy gravity. The pieces can be constructed in a straight tower too.
With the Tobbles Neo toys, kids learn how to balance items, nest them, and stack individual pieces on top of each other. The toy is designed for little hands to effortlessly grip and stack, tilt, wobble, or spin. Your toddler may love the effect when the tower topples. The individual piece spin adding another facet to the endless play
For little ones, too small to stack, each piece is easy to grip, comfortable to hold, and even seem to soothe sore gums. The pieces are made from ABS plastic, which is BPA-free and thoroughly safety tested since little ones younger than two years old are going to examine the toys with their mouths too. There are no rules when it comes to Tobbles, and unlike other games where blocks falling means you have lost, these brightly colored spheres are meant to tipple and topple, encouraging play and exploration.
12. Best Classic: Tinkertoy 100 Piece Essentials Value Set
Do these look familiar? Tinkertoy was created in 1913 after inventor Charles Pajeau watched children playing with pencils and empty spools of thread. It is a classic toy that brings the whole family together. Recently named one of the top retro toys and nominated into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1998, the new and improved pieces snap together easily and stay together. Having celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013, this building set encourages creative play and helps develop fine motor and problem-solving skills.
The variety in pieces allows a child to reproduce real-life creations like a flower, a house, or a windmill. Flags, rods, washers, end caps, and spools all snap and bend when building an item. The ability to bend pieces allows for exciting creations that could otherwise be impossible.
An instruction manual guides your little one to build things they never thought they could. When pieces snap together, it stays together; the parts do not come loose.
The Tinkertoy building playset is manufactured at a landfill-zero-waste green manufacturing facility in Hatfield, Pennsylvania.
13. Best Sensory Activity: Bristle Block Spinaroos
The Bristle Block Spinaroos are made with small hands in mind, and because they are easy to put together and pull apart, little ones love them as much as older, more accomplished builders. Two twisty bases bend and mold into the shape your child wants, and one spin base spins 360 degrees with the characters on top.
Four faces representing different characters entice toddlers to create wildly imaginative bodies for the character faces. The building ideas booklet is included to inspire your toddler’s imagination. Spinaroos will keep your children, and you, entertained for hours, and they come with a re-usable storage bin for easy cleanup.
The soft, rubbery bristles interlock on colorful toy blocks at an angle. The shapes, bristles, and round corners may give toddlers sensory experiences, motivating them to discover each piece’s possibilities. The chunky Spinaroos easily snap together and pull apart for rebuilding into different shapes.
Guide To Building Toys for Kids Who Like To Build
Toys That You Can Build
All children go through a stage of stacking, breaking down, or constructing creations, but not all kids become engineers. Building toys are excellent gifts for children, but more so for kids who like to build things.
Building toys are designed to meet the needs of specific age groups helping them to improve, develop, and strengthen relevant skills at that age or milestone. There are ample building toys for your child at any growing age…for adults too.
A play set containing building blocks helps develop and strengthen your little one’s gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination already from an early stage. At a noticeably young age, stacking blocks may fascinate children and more so kids who like to build. Blocks are not the only building toys to help develop gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Building toys like suction cups inspire logical thinking too.
The building toys increase complexity and sophistication for children in the older age groups and for the more advanced or experienced builders. Parents may find that their budding engineers play with their older sibling’s building toys because their age-appropriate building blocks are not as challenging to them anymore.
Although the traditional playset consists of blocks, some wooden and other ABS plastic, you will find building toys shaped like gears, rods, creation cubes, 3D clear shapes, and different forms to inspire the development of spatial, problem-solving, math skills, and other STEM-related skills.
Things Kids Can Build
Your little one can build anything with the right construction toy and their imagination. Children’s imaginative play is impressive. What looks like a stack of blocks to an adult is much more to your child. The things kids can build with a set of blocks are astonishing, from simple towers to complex moving machines.
The creation of children construct using building toys that contain wheels, and moveable parts may surprise parents even more. Children’s imaginative play with simplistic building toys consisting of blocks is just as enjoyable to see.
There is no limit to what your child can construct. Building toys allow them to build towers, vehicles, animals, figurines, buildings, and everything in between that their creative imaginations may produce.
How to Build Toys
Some children could be hesitant to play with their new construction toy. The container, which often functions as a storage bag too, shows building ideas as part of the design to stimulate children to play with the STEM toy. The example is a way to introduce children to the pay set and familiarize themselves with what they can create with the blocks. The package also contains instructions on how to build these toys.
Most of the more involved building toys include ideas and detailed instructions with images on how to shape toys with these building blocks. It helps give children and parents ideas of what they can build. It is also a way to inspire imaginative children to design their unique toys to play at any age.
The package indicates how to build with the pieces. Some, like traditional blocks, the method is obvious, but other building toys with various shapes, sizes, and connectors could be more intricate to understand. Instructions should give examples of how these pieces connect.
Learning With Building Toys
Never underestimate the educational value of building toys for children of any age. Kids learn while they play.
Six-month-old children develop gross motor skills as they learn to grip the building blocks to stack them. Toddlers and older kids improve fine motor skills when playing with smaller parts. Kids’ hand-eye-coordination is also developed and strengthened each time they play with the blocks.
Kids learn to count with the integrated numbers or counting the blocks they use. The various shape, sizes, and lengths also inspire geometry and other math skills when figuring out their design.
Spatial skills teach kids to visualize the shapes before construction. It helps kids understand how an odd shape can be changed into something usable. Spatial skills help create beautiful designs, but it also helps to solve problems and allows for new creative and artistic results.
Science and Physics
Building a simple tower that does not topple over requires the need for understanding fundamental physics like gravity. Understanding the cause and effect of their building projects teaches children basic science principles.
Working together as a team on a project or having fun with a sibling or friend help kids develop social skills. They learn how to communicate openly so that others may understand them. It is a friendly way to develop and improve social skills and nurturing relationships. Language skills may improve as the children verbally communicate their ideas, solutions, and imaginative role play with the toys.
Success builds self-confidence. Even your kids creating their first tower with building blocks establish confidence when they see what they had constructed. Toys constructed with the building toy sets are the physical evidence of what the child has accomplished, and it motivates them to see what they produced.
Playing with construction toys teaches patience to create something, and it also requires patience to try again when the child’s attempts fail. Kids with self-confidence tend not to take the mistake personally but will find a way to solve the problem and then building an improved model.
What beautiful creations has your child constructed with building blocks? Do they prefer building the models according to the instructions or to create something new? Which of these playsets is your child’s favorite building toy, or have we missed one?