Build it bigger! Stack it higher! Make it more complex! Construction toys give kids great practice with motor skills, and challenge their creativity. Add moving parts and problem-solving challenges, and you can take a simple play concept to the next level – marble runs and contraption-building sets add intriguing new elements for older kids.
Before we even get started talking about a wider variety of blocks: LEGO sets are the most obvious construction toys on your holiday shopping list, and don’t bear much more discussion – you probably already know about their learning benefits, and nearly every kid loves them. So if they’re on your list, you can just skip straight to shopping here: we’ve got LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Minecraft, LEGO Friends, LEGO DUPLO, LEGO Mindstorms, and so much more!
With that said: here are some more of our faves, starting with the ones for the littlest builders, and scaling up to construction sets that will encourage future engineers and architects to take their creativity to new heights!
Infants and toddlers aren’t exactly building with blocks yet: they want to feel blocks, mouth them, reach for them, drop them, and especially knock down stacks of blocks (big giggles!). Earlyears Squeak ‘n Stack Blocks have fun multisensory elements for babies to explore, with embossed textures on the outside and squeakers inside, and they’re great for baby’s first experiments in stacking.
Also, Green Toys Blocks are designed to facilitate a toddler’s earliest building experiments, and the super-cool Tegu Magbot Robot is a great toy to grow with kids – toddlers will simply enjoy the clack of the safely-embedded magnets pulling the wooden blocks together, while preschoolers will love pretend-play with a transforming robot friend!
Tegu Blocks come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes, and sets range from mini-packs of “curiously attractive” cubes to medium-sized car-building sets to mega-sized sets that encourage open-ended invention for older kids. There’s something for every price range and every age range!
If you want to go with something more traditional, every kid needs classic unit blocks: you remember the ones from your own preschool days? These sets are also designed to grow with kids – the smallest builders will simply stack them and knock them down, while preschoolers will try to make their structures as TALL as possible, and older kids will build a village for their dolls or an obstacle course for their trucks.
MORE MAGNETIC BLOCKS
SmartMax building sets are cleverly designed to make magnetic play safe for toddlers, with ultrasonicly welded pieces keeping the magnets properly embedded inside. Smaller builders will just enjoy clicking them together, while older kids will experiment with how different pieces attract and repel, and the different strengths of the magnets. Some of the colorful kits are open-ended, while others encourage kids to build cars that can even do stunts!
And then, of course, there are Magna-Tiles: these perennial bestsellers connect on all sides for endless building fun. They’re also a visual treat: combine the recent “ice” set and black-tile set for a truly unique look! Or just add lights to one of the classic Magna-Tiles clear sets to create gorgeous stained glass effects.
And now for something completely different: blocks in different shapes encourage kids to think differently and stretch their problem-solving skills to create defined buildings or abstract shapes. For instance, Squigz from Fat Brain Toys are bendy little guys that combine a ball, a stem, and one or more suction cups. They’re delightful to experiment with, they feel nifty in your hand, and they separate with a mighty POP!
Or, Mindware Geo Play sets combine notched shapes that lock together to create weird free-form sculptures that can grow upwards and outwards. How high can they build, and can they get everything to balance correctly? It’s endlessly compelling, and no two creations will ever be alike!
Finally: for the brainy builder who wants to build projects that WORK, we’ve got a wide variety of building sets to tickle their creativity! Goldieblox building sets were created to inspire girls to build (and they do!), but tons of reviewers report that their boys can’t resist getting in on the fun too, so don’t let the pink scare you away. I have trouble imagining a child who wouldn’t be thrilled to pieces to build a zipline or a dunk tank, don’t you?
And then there are Keva Contraptions: build a working ball run, or a working catapult! The huge 200 plank sets encourage open-ended playtime as well, and are great for siblings to play with together. And EVERYONE loves knocking ‘em down!
Didn’t find what you needed in this list? We’re going to be talking about our Holiday Gift Guide picks all season long! Or, download our Holiday Gift Guide and take it with you to our stores. Or, shop our gift guide picks online, divided up by handy categories that will help you find exactly what you need. OR, if you’re in a super rush, or have a really heavy duty list of kids to shop for, we can help! Book a FREE consultation in person or online with one of our Toy Gurus, or just live chat with our experts on this site, and we’ll find what you need in a jiffy, for the happiest of holidays!