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Best Construction Toys - Building Sets for Kids

Updated on August 13, 2013

Best Building Sets for Preschoolers and Bigger Kids

An overview of the best construction toys for kids. You'll find the classics here plus some new building toys that have become popular recently. We've included construction toys for preschoolers and little kids as well as more sophisticated building sets for bigger kids (and adults too!)

Construction toys are hugely popular in our house. I have two boys and they have quite a collection of toys that they use to build dinosaurs, animals and vehicles from. They love to recreate scenes from books and TV shows. They have gone through Megabloks, Lego Duplo and are now on to proper Lego. We have K'Nex, Bristle Blocks, a Marble Run, Wooden Building Blocks! And they all get played with.

And I actually enjoy joining in with the kids and making things from blocks and bricks too.

Featured Construction Toy

Frigits Deluxe

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Frigits Deluxe is a cool toy for creating obstacle course for marbles on a vertical steel surface like a fridge or locker. This toy gets superb reviews so had to be included here. It comes with lots of interesting pieces that add variety to your course including a Ferris Wheel.

Frigits Deluxe is recommended for children from age 7+, but teenagers and adults will have fun too. This makes an excellent original gift for kids who already have lots of construction toys.

Construction Toys for Kids Age 4+

LEGO Ultimate Building Set - 405 Pieces (6166)

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Of course Lego is here! My boys have just moved on to proper Lego. And they are loving it. They play with Lego from the moment they get up to the moment they go to bed. (I keep finding Lego in their beds, that can't be comfortable!) The Lego Star Wars sets are pretty much worshipped in our house. I forsee a large collection in our future. As a full on geek parent, this pleases me no end!

Lego is very much a family affair. The boys' Dad (my partner) has just ordered a big box of Lego bricks because he wants to be able to make more models than our current sets will allow! He can't even wait until Christmas. Did I try and talk him out of it? No! I just want him to share nicely. Oh yeah and we will let the kids play too, well as long as they don't need the same pieces that I need ...

LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0 (8547)

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Oh Lego Mindstorms. How I wish I had had this as a child. My boys aren't quite old enough to appreciate it yet. But as soon as they are, we will be getting a set. I'm a techie and I love the educational potential of this toy. It's a brilliant way to encourage an interest and talent in engineering or IT. I'm an IT professional and can see how experience with this toy as a teenager could really improve a kid's prospects. I love Lego Mindstorms so much, I've written a whole page about it: Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0.

Kapla 200 Blocks Set

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Wooden blocks have been a popular kids toy for generations. I remember a set of wooden blocks that my great grandfather had made himself. Kapla Blocks are the best wooden blocks around. Kids as young as three will enjoy them, but bigger kids can create amazing architectural constructions.

Lots of people discover Kapla blocks at a museum and then have to buy a set for home. The blocks are long and slim and engineered to be finely balanced. Kapla blocks make a great gift for a young family as they can be enjoyed by a wide age range (including the adults!)

There are also some wooden storage box Kapla sets which are gorgeous!

Magna-Tiles Translucent Colors 100 pieces

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Magna-tiles are geometric pieces with magnets that allow them to snap together. The translucent Magna-tiles are very attractive so the creations made with them are very visually appealing.

The shapes of these blocks include squares, right-angled triangles, isoceles triangles and equilateral triangles. This makes for some very interesting geometric structures and gives a hands-on opportunity to learn a bit of geometry while playing.

The thin tiles make Magna-tiles ideal for making structures to play with. They are just asking to be made into a rocket ship, a house or a pirate ship!

K'Nex Education Intro To Simple Machines - Gears - 1 98 Pieces

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K'Nex is an intricate building toys with lots of different pieces, many of them very small. This is a good toy for kids who like to follow detailed instructions and work with fine detail. From our experience with Dinosaur K'Nex (below), my older son is really going to get a lot from K'Nex as he gets older. He loves to follow printed instructions. K'Nex models can get really advanced so this toy will be enjoyed by older kids for quite a while. It makes a nice change from blocks and bricks.

Super Magz 130 Magnetic Construction Kit M1704 (Age 14+)

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Super Magz is addictive! It's like a big version of the office magnetic toys you get. It's great fun putting together structures and working out how to make them stable. It's also a good way to learn about geometric structures.

Gears! Gears! Gears! Super Set - 150-Piece Set

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Gears! Gears! Gears! is a good construction toy for future engineers. Its advantage over other construction toys is that it actually does something - a battery powered motor turns the gears, which of course has an effect across your structure. This toy covers quite an age range. The Super Set is best for older children or as an add on set. Many reviewers suggest that one of the themed sets is a better starter set for younger children.

Quercetti Super Marble Run Vortis, 224 Pieces

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The Marble Run is another construction toy with an added extra - you can drop marbles into the course you build. My older son got a Quercetti Marble run for Christmas last year. He's 4.5. At the moment he needs help to build marble runs that actually work, but he has lots of fun trying! These sets are really well designed and durable so my boys will get several years of play from this toy.

It's another one that I enjoy playing with too. I have to admit that I have occasionally told the boys to stop adding to one of my designs as I've got something specific in mind. Yeah, I need to do nice sharing ...

We asked for this toy after a visit to a Marble museum where they had huge marble runs that fascinated the boys. They also got interested in marbles. I like marbles too. (Are these toys for me or the kids?)

Best Construction Toys for Preschoolers

Megabloks 80pc Lrg Mega Bloks Bag & Wheel Base

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We got a bit carried away with Megabloks in our house. We loved the stuff and ended up with several boxes full. It's suitable from 12 months of age and was the first construction toy for both our boys. Initially they were just interested in the brightly colored pieces then they started putting the pieces together, then making recognisable planes and animals.

I spent many happy hours building things from Megabloks with our kids as toddlers, as did their Dad. We even made a Christmas display of Megabloks Reindeer each year! Megabloks are great for little kids because they are big. They are perfect for little hands and you can build some really impressive structures with them.

Megabloks have been the toy of choice for our kids to play with every morning before they go downstairs for the last couple of years. Each morning they would happily create dinosaurs, buildings and animals from Megabloks. They have now moved on to Lego Duplo and Lego. I was actually really sad to get rid of the Megabloks, but it went to a good cause - to raise money for the local preschool.

Megabloks is definitely the best first construction toy for toddlers.

LEGO Duplo Basic Bricks (80 Pcs.)

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As I write this, my 4.5 year old has just built a pirate ship from Lego Duplo. It's one of the best played with toys in our house. We have a Dinosaur Duplo set, a Duplo Zoo and lots of plain Duplo bricks.

The boys spend hours making dinosaurs and animals from Duplo. My three year old has just progressed from a 2 block duck to an 5 block animals which is variously a squirrel, skunk or a tiger. My older son makes all sorts of things. He's made lots of different species of dinosaur (all recognisable), a Star Wars spaceship (from memory) and whole villages for people and animals.

Duplo is brilliant for kids who want to build things but haven't quite got the control for proper Lego yet. My 4.5 year old plays with proper Lego (and so does my 3 year old) but they both still play with Duplo a lot too.

Melissa & Doug 60-Piece Standard Unit Blocks

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Good old wooden blocks! Great for sparking the imagination and guaranteed to get any visiting adult joining in too. This set from Melissa & Doug is well designed and is the kind of toy that you'll keep to pass on to your grandchildren.

The blocks are big and chunky and designed to fit into a wooden storage box. You get a good variety of shapes and there are 60 blocks. You can make some pretty big and impressive structures.

Fisher-Price TRIO Building Set with storage

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We're pretty impressed with Fisher-Price TRIO, they've managed to come up with something a bit different that works really well. The sticks slot into the bricks easily and you can make some really impressive designs. Trio is great for building airplanes and other vehicles. Kids will love to make robots and buildings. There are lots of themed sets available so you can request extra sets as gifts.

K'Nex Kid - Zoo Buddies Building Set

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Kid K'Nex is very popular in our house. Everytime it comes out the kids play happily for hours with it making their own creatures. We have two sets which gives a good variety of pieces. The sets include lots of fun pieces like big eyes and ears. The kids find it really funny to build strange looking creatures.

The sets include Lego-like blocks that can be used for building with, but they also have holes in where you can put the Kid K'Nex sticks and make interesting creations. Kid K'Nex is definitely a great addition to our toy collection.

Battat Krinkles 113 Pieces

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Krincles, Bristle Blocks, Stickle Bricks, there are a few toys like this - but careful, they're not all compatible. I bought a set for the boys because I remembered enjoying them as a child. I think kids like them because they are kind of strange looking! They are a bit different to other construction toys because they can be joined up anywhere, this leads to much less uniform structures.

Krinkles require less precision to put together that Duplo and kids because the pieces can join up anywhere and at interesting angles, there's more flexibility. They're great for imaginative play.

PlanToys 60 Construction Set

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We have a wooden workbench with wooden pieces and nuts and bolts. The boys feel like proper builders when they use this set. It often comes out after they have watched Bob the Builder.

Visiting children often head for this set. I've noticed that kids who don't have much patience for some of the other construction toys seem to enjoy this. I think it's the wrench that they enjoy!

Thanks for visiting

Best Construction Toys for Kids

Did I miss any of your favorite construction toys or building sets. (I know there are some more I need to add.)

I hope you liked the Construction Toys - Cooments

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      Akihiro 2 years ago

      HAHAHAHA! That is hilarious! What is with boys wnanitg that deep, paternal connection in the commode? I guess men relate while in places of comfort, and that is a young boy's first comfort zone. My son has even gone so far as to practice his digital photography skills with my porcelain-bethroned self as the subject (TMI?) Too funny.

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      Kouassi 2 years ago

      I feel so much happier now I untrdseand all this. Thanks!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Whatever happened to the pre-schoolers (1982/1983) building set called "Button Ups"???

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I really wanted to find a construction set for under 3s with screws to screw something to hammer and nuts to turn and something at the end of all that effort,No success...

    • NaturalMommys profile image

      NaturalMommys 6 years ago

      I was looking for a good overview of building sets so thanks! My kids birthdays are coming up so I am looking around right now.

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      dannystaple 6 years ago

      I love Lego (big fan), I've not come across the GearsGears stuff though - but it sounds great too. Marble runs have become far more sophisticated than when I was a kid. Our little one is pretty young for all this. A marble museum? WOW - I'e not heard of one in the Uk, but I think I will go look for it! Anyway - a thumbs up from me!