Toy Review: Best Gift for Preschoolers and Toddlers Who Love Construction Sites
Toys for Kids Who Just Really Love Construction Sites...
Some kids are just crazy about construction sites, and my son happens to be one of them. It probably didn't hurt that they were doing construction on the road across the street for the past three months. One of his favorite phrases currently is "mommy, pretend you looking outside your window and you see a steamroller working." Or a variation: "mommy, pretend you look outside your window and see an excavator not moving and you be sad." Let's leave aside the fact that I never even knew what an excavator was until recently, or that I might not actually be that sad if I see one not moving - I still find these phrases incredibly cute and want to foster his love of construction sites. Because of this, I have become somewhat of an expert on the range of toys out there related to construction.
There is a huge range of construction site oriented toys - dump trucks, excavators, steam rollers, tractors, front end loaders, crane trucks, cement mixers, etc - but one of the cheapest options out there has turned out to be my son's absolute favorite. Before the big reveal, let me say that I think it's great to explore different options for construction toys, and some of the bigger ones can be really fun, especially for outside play.
If I had all the money in the world, I would think the best gifts for a kid who love construction sites would be one bigger toy. Tonka makes some great ones, and there are some that are really durable that you can use outside for many years, that can handle rocks, mud, rain, and all the wonderful things that our kids can think of that we would never dream of. The Tonka mighty dump truck is a great one in that size.
I would also go for a ride on toy, if I could afford it. Those are tons of fun, and it would be fun to give that along with a construction hat. I found a toy construction hat for my son at a garage sale and he loves to wear it and pretend to be a "worker guy."
There are also great children's books about construction sites - most notably Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site. This would also be fun to pair with a gift of some toys.
Best Construction Toy: Caterpillar Mini Machine 5-pack
We saw this at Target one day, and my son got so excited. For only $10, I thought it was well worth it. Little did I know how much use he would get out of it. I think if I took the time to calculate time spent playing with a toy for the price, this toy would win by a huge margin - a landslide, if you will. He plays with these five construction machines all the time, and given their size, they are so easy to take with us.
Why I think this is the best construction toy, especially for the price:
- Includes the five most common construction machines: excavator, dump truck, steamroller, tractor, bulldozer
- Great size for little hands - starting at two years old kids can play with these really well.
- No choking hazard (at least none that I have noticed!)
- Very realistic looking - they are made by Caterpillar after all!
- Amazing price - only $10 and can probably find it for even less at some places
- Easy to fit in a purse or diaper bag
- They don't make noise - some people might see this as a disadvantage, but it makes it way easier to take them on the go, even to places where the sound of kids' toys might not be welcome.
Places we have taken these to play with and they have entertained my son for a long time:
- Waiting at the doctor's office
- To a restaurant
- To the store - he carries one and drives it on the handle of the cart
- To relatives' houses who don't have kids toys - nice because you aren't bringing something that will be noisy or mess up their house or take up too much space
- To the park - they clean off easily, so it's fine to take them in the mud or dirt or sand (though they aren't very big, so you can't really do a lot of hauling with them)
Fun Activities to Do with the Caterpillar Mini Construction Machines
I am sure we have but scratched the surface of the many activities to do with these little machines, but I will share some of our favorites:
- I put a bunch of rice on a cookie sheet (with rims) and my son drives the machines around and scoops rice with the excavator and dumps it in the dump truck. He also pushes it around with the bulldozer. This can occupy him the whole time I'm making dinner! I do end up sweeping up some rice off the floor, but I think it's well worth it. It's also fun because he can narrate for me what he's doing.
- When we're playing with play dough he loves to make a road and then have all the machines work on it. The grand finale is when all the other machines are done, and the steam roller gets to come out and make the road smooth. The anticipation is half the fun!
- This got a bit messy, but we had some extra Jello and I let him go nuts with it. He really enjoyed it and they washed off just fine. I would recommend washing them right away though rather than waiting for the next day because the Jello can tend to stick on fairly tenaciously. Or so I've heard.
- More on the food theme - I let him drive them through his birthday cake once it was all dried out (see the picture to the right here) - he had an absolute blast and it saved me from eating dried out old birthday cake. Not that I would have actually done that.
- I haven't done this, but read an idea about using cars for art projects, and I think that would be really fun to do with these - they wash off fine, so your kid could drive them through paint and then make tracks on the paper.
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