Do you have Lego-lovers at your house? If you’re looking for other options for your budding engineer, try out these creativity-boosting gifts for kids who love to build.
NOTE: THIS POST INCLUDES AFFILIATE LINKS TO THE PRODUCTS DISCUSSED, BUT ALWAYS FEEL FREE TO SHOP AROUND FOR THE BEST DEALS. SEE MY DISCLOSURE TO LEARN MORE.
I have three boys. They LOVE Legos. Even my one-year-old cannot be kept away from those tempting little bricks (we now have a rule that Legos have to happen behind closed doors so he doesn’t decide to see how they taste…yikes).
Last summer, we even had a Lego-themed birthday party for my six-year-old. Ever since then, our house has been slightly exploding with Legos. (P.S. – If anyone has a really functional storage solution for Legos, I NEED help.)
I’m okay with my boys’ obsession with Legos for the most part. They really are a fantastic toy, after all. Open ended, they encourage imagination and fine motor skills, and they teach kids about science and engineering principles. Win!
(P.S. – Did you know you can buy OFF-BRAND building bricks??? I will say that I think Lego is worth buying for specific sets, but if you just want a grab bag of basic pieces to get your child’s creativity rolling (and bump up their building stash), check out these off-brand options.)
All that being said, Legos aren’t the ONLY fabulous toy for kids who love to build. If you have a Lego lover at home, but you want to branch out and try some other fun building toys, here are some of our other favorites:
Alternatives to Legos: Gifts for kids who love to build
Brain Flakes – TOP PICK
My four-year-old received these as a birthday gift last summer, and they were the biggest surprise hit with my boys! They come with instructions for a few basic creations, but most of the design is left to your imagination. We have made balls, rockets, monsters, boats, snowflakes, flowers, and MANY more creations. They hook together securely, which is nice because it means my boys don’t fall to pieces because their creation broke…which has happened with other building materials. P.S. – They’re cheap. Most of the sets I’ve seen are under $15. Way to get some serious bang for your buck!
Magnet tiles are one of the absolute coolest building toys out there. Magformers and Picasso Tiles seem to be the most popular. We’ve played with many different brands at museums and friends’ houses, and they’re all equally fun. We own this set from Discovery Kids (received as a birthday gift several years ago) and they get used ALL. THE. TIME. I am truly amazed by the endless variations of structures my boys can create with just squares and triangles.
Classic choice, and one that I think every child should own. Blocks give kids so much room to experiment with the laws of physics and engineering…they’re a must in our house.
Foam blocks are a great option for the youngest of builders because they are soft and won’t hurt if their tower falls on their hands (or if your toddler chucks one at his brother’s head…totally innocently, I’m sure). They are a little more prone to topple, but my kids love playing with our set.
Another classic. My husband and I both grew up with Brio trains, and my boys still love playing with them when they go to either of their grandparents’ houses. These days, there are lots of options for wooden trains that are all compatible with each other (hooray for companies playing nice with each other!). We have a mish-mash of a bunch of brands: IKEA, Thomas, Brio, and some that we bought used and I have no idea what brand they are (I LOVE buying kids’ toys used). Some people like to have a train table, but I like having the freedom to build a giant metropolis of train tracks all over the floor. They take over the living room for a while, but we just clean up before dinner and all is well.
A working drill with interchangeable bits that allows you to actually construct and take apart (hence the name) a working toy truck. When fully constructed, it has wheels that turn and a spring-loaded claw crane…a boy’s dream! I included this truck in last year’s Gift Guide for Kids Who Love Cars and Trucks, but I’m adding it here too because it’s just too fun.
Did you have a Lite Brite when you were a kid? I did, and I can remember spending HOURS arranging those little colored pegs into all sorts of intricate pictures. We bought the modern reboot of this classic toy for your four-year-old’s birthday this year (updated to use much safer LED lighting). I’m happy to report that this oldie-but-goodie has become a favorite quiet time activity for both of my older boys, perfect for “building” pictures with pegs.
This is another classic from my own childhood. We don’t own one right now because I get nervous with my one-year-old and marbles, but my boys spent 45 minutes at the children’s museum playing with theirs a few months ago. When you’re shopping, just pay attention to how many pieces are in the set you are purchasing, and what KIND of pieces they are (many sets count each of the marbles included as a piece…kinda lame if you ask me). This one gets top marks on Amazon though, so it’s a good bet.
Still need more ideas of gifts for kids who love to build? Here are a few more options to consider. We don’t own most of these, but we’ve happily played with them at museums and friends’ houses.
- Lincoln Logs
- Magic Tracks
- K’nex or Kid K’nex for preschool-age kiddos
- Tinker Toys
- Construction Engineering Building Blocks Set
- Bristle Blocks
What are YOUR kids’ favorite building toys? Share your suggestions in the comments below!