Construction toys are great for toddlers because they help to develop hand eye coordination, problem solving schools and also allow imaginary play. While basic wooden building blocks might be the obvious choice, there are lots of constructions toys for toddlers to choose from. If you’re interested in toddlers toys, you might also like our overviews of play kitchens, Ride On Toys and Outdoor Toys.
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Wooden Blocks – The Classic Building Blocks for Toddlers
The classic wooden blocks are a classic for a reason and are of course one of the best construction toys for toddlers. They usually come in brightly coloured sets* but if you want something that will look more subtle in your home pastel sets are available (like this one* that comes in its own cart) or just a natural wood set*.
Some sets come with just cubes but most offer a range of shapes that mean they can be played with in different ways, great for pretending to build houses or castles. The main downsides to plain wooden blocks is that they are easy to knock down and some toddlers might find this frustrating. They are also heavy and can cause a lot of damage if thrown.
Lego is a childhood classic and some years ago they developed Lego Duplo for children who were as yet too young to manage proper Lego, due to its fiddly nature and the risk they might choke on it. Duplo is a great product, robust, brightly coloured and with lots of different options available.
Mega Bloks are similar to Lego Duplo but generally cheaper and lighter weight. This can be a benefit if your child tends to throw things as they will do less damage. You’ll also get more for your money.
Stickle Bricks were one of my favourite toys when I was a child and have been making a come back recently. The are blocks of different shapes covered in “stickles” that can be stuck together any way you like. They are easy to attach because there isn’t a “right way” and are great for sensory seekers.
Like with Duplo, you can buy a general set* to build with or a set that provides the pieces to make something specific like this Stick and Build Set*. Stickle Bricks are great for younger toddlers or those who struggle with fine motor skills.
I love magnetic tiles. We didn’t get them until my kids were a bit older because they were very expensive when they first came out but they have come down on price a lot in recent years.
There are two types of tiles available, solid tiles* and ones were they are just the shape outline* with an empty middle. The latter are usually a bit cheaper and but the former look more striking when built into something. You can also get some sets that have additional items so they can be made into something in particular, like this set*.
Building with Connectors
As well as the ways described above on the most popular types of building Blocks, there are some sets that use different methods of connecting pieces together. This Pipe Building Set* is a bit different and allowed to creation of some interesting shapes and patterns.
My children’s favourite toy with connectors is this simple set that includes colourful straws and plastic connectors*. You can build much larger things with it, my children’s go to creation is a robot suit they then wear around the house.
All of these sets are more suitable for preschoolers than toddlers due to the fine motor skills needed to connect them.
Building with Something Different
Rainbows have become a popular toy for toddlers recently because of the different ways you can play with them. The Grimms Rainbow* was the original but there are a lot of other ones* now available at a lower price.
The final type of toddler construction toy are the stocking puzzles. These are toys where the aim is to stack or connect items together in a particular way. While some are aimed at toddlers, others are great education toys for preschoolers would enjoy too.
Sets where you use the shapes to create the image in the picture* can be fun to do for older toddlers and preschoolers, depending on the complexity of the shape.
This Geometric Shapes Stacking Set* has lots of challenges to complete and is more suited to preschoolers, it can even be used to teach the basics of fractions.
Things to Consider When Choosing Construction Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers
- What is your child’s level of Fine Motor Skills? While these types of toys can be great for developing fine motor skills, they will lose interest if you start with something too advanced. Stickle bricks are the easiest to start with followed by Mega Bloks.
- Do you have a child who is included to throw things? Traditional wooden Bloks are heavy and will cause a fair amount of damage. Mega Bloks or magnetic tiles are much lighter
- Do you have more than one child? If you do, then going for something where there is a lot of the same thing, like the straw and connector set or basic sets of duplo, will mean they can play together with less fighting.
- Do you want something that won’t be an eyesore in your front room? If so, I’d suggest a Grimms rainbow and some classic wooden blocks.
- Does your child like small world play? If they do then they will likely enjoy the Duplo sets that come with little people and animals.
The Best Construction Toys for Toddlers: Conclusion
I believe the best construction toy for toddlers are Stickle Bricks because of their easy of use for little hands and their sensory input.
The Grimm’s style Rainbows come a close second because of the variety of ways they can be played with plus they just look so pretty!
The Best Construction Toys for Preschoolers: Conclusion
For me, magnetic tiles are the best construction toys for preschoolers because of their versatility. The things you can create with them are endless and they take fine motor skills on to the next level.
I also love the simple straws and Connectors, my children have played with them in so many different ways and they have lasted beyond the early years so we’ll worth the money.
Ideally, you’d have a few different types of construction toys and change them around as part of a toy rotation programme.
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