The Best Construction and Building Toys, According to Teachers

Encourage open-ended play!

Kids love to build, and it’s no wonder. Construction activity allows them to play with no limitations beyond their own imaginations. And, as it turns out, they get a ton of benefit from building: improved motor skills, increased visual and spatial awareness, and a sense of accomplishment that boosts their self-confidence. Building is part of STEM education and engaging in Makerspace-type activities emboldens young tinkerers to become the engineers and inventors of tomorrow. To encourage this kind of play, we put together a list of our favorite construction and building toys, perfect for the classroom or at home.

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1. LEGO

We’d be remiss if we didn’t start with LEGO in our list of favorite construction and building toys. Children have been building with the iconic bricks for decades. For optimal open-ended play, we recommend the Classic Creative Brick Box. For younger kids, we recommend the LEGO DUPLO Classic Creative Brick Box.

2. Wooden Building Blocks

This 100-piece set from Melissa and Doug is both high quality and budget-friendly. The blocks feature rounded edges and come in four bright colors and nine different shapes.

3. Magna-Tiles

Magna-Tiles don’t come cheap, but the 3-D magnetic building tiles are well worth the investment. This set includes 32 translucent, colorful shapes, including squares (small and large) and triangles (equilateral, isosceles, and right). 

4. Marble Run

Got a budding Rube Goldberg? This Marble Genius Marble Run Super Set will keep them busy for hours. Includes 85 complete see-through Marble Run pieces in 19 distinct styles.

5. Squigz

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Who knew suction construction was a thing? This 36-piece set from Fat Brain Toys is an upgrade on the original. It’s still compatible with the old Squigz, but now the centers connect, too!

6. K’NEX

For creating models that move, there’s no better choice than K’NEX. This set comes with 480 classic K’NEX parts and pieces, including rods and connectors that attach to each another in different ways.

7. Lincoln Logs

Are you having flashbacks from your childhood? We loved Lincoln Logs for a reason, and it’s time to introduce your kids to a new generation. This 100th-anniversary set includes 111 all-wood, beautifully stained pieces.

8. TINKERTOY

Speaking of nostalgia, you might as well snag this TINKERTOY 100-Piece Essentials Value Set complete with spools, rods, flags, washers, end caps, and more.

9. Gears

This Learning Resources Super Building Set of chunky, spinning gears also includes axles, crank handles, and more for a total of 150 pieces. Little engineers rejoice!

10. Dominoes

If they liked the marble run, they’re going to love this wooden dominoes set from Click N’ Play. It includes 300 pieces in eight different colors for maximum domino racing fun.

11. Unifix Cubes

They’re a classroom staple, and kids can have just as much fun counting and making patterns with them at home. This 100-piece set from Didax is the real deal.

12. Straw Constructor Set

For a fun and inexpensive option, try this 300-piece straw and connector set from Rainbow Toyfrog—perfect for your own straw tower challenge.

13. Bristle Blocks

What is it about those soft, interlocking bristles? This Basic Builder Set from Battat includes 112 pieces in assorted sizes and eight functional wheels. 

14. Snap Circuits

With this set from Elenco, kids can build over 100 electronic projects, including a flashing light and a siren! No extra tools are needed, and all the parts easily snap together.

15. Brain Flakes

This is a 500-piece interlocking disc set from VIAHART, and while the name is a little strange, these Brain Flakes are super popular with kids. 

16. Playstix

This unique building toy uses color-coded lengths. Each piece has grooves that interlock when one piece is placed across another. Includes an idea booklet.

17. STEM Kit

From Brickyard Building Blocks, this learning set includes 163 blocks, wrenches, movable wheels, plates, nuts, and bolts. 

Did we miss your favorite construction and building toys? Share in the comments!

Plus, 16 Everyday Activities That Totally Count as Learning.

The Best Construction and Building Toys, According to Teachers

Posted by Kimmie Fink

Kimmie is an editor at WeAreTeachers. She has 13 years of classroom teaching experience and a master's degree in curriculum and instruction.

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