As Engineer and I sorted through toys in preparation for the holiday season, I was struck by the toys that were in our “keep” pile. Almost all of the toys that he couldn’t part with had lasted for years and years! They’re also all building toys for kids, which makes sense because my son loves building anything and everything.
Related: Magnetic Tiles and Glow Sticks
According to Dictionary.com, building is “to construct (especially something complex) by assembling and joining parts or materials.” The five toys below definitely fit within that definition!
Why are these building toys for kids so great?
As I mentioned above, each of these toys has been in my house for years! Many of these toys were given to him when he was three or four. He’s 7 now, so each of the toys has had 3 or 4 years of weekly use without much damage.
In addition to their lasting qualities, it’s easy to add to the sets. Since Engineer’s interests have expanded, it’s been nice to grab additions to these toys throughout the years. His building schemes have also become more and more complex, so easily adding materials has been a must over the years. You can’t beat toys that GROW with kiddos!
Each of these toys appeals to so many different kiddos. My preschoolers love them as much as Engineer does, even though they play with the toys in very different ways.
5 Classic Building Toys for Kids
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I am firmly convinced that building with LEGO helped improve my son’s fine motor skills. While I tend to call them building toys, LEGO really are fine motor toys. Little (and not-so-little) fingers get quite the workout manipulating these pieces into place.
We started with a basic creator set when Engineer was younger. He started out assembling and disassembling, then moved onto creating animals, people, buildings, and other random creations. Starting out with a basic set encouraged him to use them in an open-ended way. Of course, we’ve added fire trucks, LEGO Batman sets, and all things LEGO Star Wars. But Engineer doesn’t limit his LEGO thinking just to the sets, much as he loves them. He’s just as likely to make his own ship for Yoda as he is to follow the directions to building a set.
Shhhh, don’t tell him, but Engineer is getting a LEGO At-At for Christmas. He’d been planning on saving up for it, but it will be arriving months ahead of his timeline!
Another classic building toys for kids to create with! Engineer has used his Lincoln Logs for a variety of structures over the years. He started out with basic houses, then moved onto creating neighborhoods for his other toys. He’s even used them to build tunnels for his train tracks, which entertained me to no end.
He started out with a basic set, of course. He’s been happy with the starter set for years and years, so we haven’t added any more to our collection. We’ve talked about getting a second basic set or the Redwood Junction set (because it has a train with it).
I love watching my son play with toys I loved as a kid! I remember using Tinker Toys when I was younger, so I’m tickled that Engineer loves them too! 🙂 Once again, we started with a basic beginner’s set – he got the wooden version as a gift from his grandparents. The kiddo has made cars, satellites, and all kinds of constructions with these classic toys.
Unfortunately, it’s harder to find the traditional wooden Tinker Toys nowadays, but there are many other types available. They have a great 100-piece value set, and this classic wooden connector set (from a different manufacturer) looks like fun too!
Oh how we love blocks, both at preschool and at home! Engineer has never once tired of any of the building blocks we’ve had at home. In fact, we’ve talked about adding more to our collection soon – probably around the kiddo’s birthday.
A set of wooden unit blocks is a great place to start, and it’s easy to add more as the kids need. Both Engineer and the preschool kiddos have loved loved loved the natural color Citiblocs we have. These two sets of blocks seem very “simple”, but the kids can create some amazing structures with them! I’ve seen bridges, skyscrapers, the North Pole, farms, airplanes, and so much more!
For future purchases, we’ve been scoping out the colorful Citiblocs, castle blocks, and these architectural blocks. Too many fun choices!
Wooden train tracks and trains
My son has been into trains since he was about 2 and got his first basic set from his grandparents (hi, Dad!) Over the past 5 years, our trains and tracks have expanded almost exponentially!! We have an amazing amount of wooden train tracks from a variety of manufacturers. Engineer and I especially love the special connector pieces, like the switch tracks and adapters. On top of that, we have wooden trains of all different brands – Thomas, Brio, etc.
If you want some serious, in-depth wooden train gift guides, you need to check out Play Trains. Here are just some of the amazingly researched gift guides she’s put together (I’ve referred to them many times when deciding what to purchase):
- Guide to the best wooden train sets
- Big ticket train gifts
- Best wooden train tables
- Pink train sets, toys, and gifts for kids
What about you and your kiddos? What classic building toys for kids do you have at your home? Do you have any more toys to add to this list? Engineer and I both want to try Magnatiles out in the near future!
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Great list Mary! I like the classic building toys and often buy it for my son.
Mary Catherine says
Thanks so much! We’re still using every one of these toys at home!
Kathleen Beattie says
When kids are cleaning up the wooden blocks is it necessary for each different size to be stacked together in a labeled shelf or is it ok to just put all the blocks in 1 bucket?
Mary Catherine says
Hi Kathleen! I prefer to keep the different sizes separated, but I suggest you find what works best for you and your children. You can read a bit about setting up a block center here if you’re interested.