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Best Building Toys For Kids
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The 13 Best Building Toys For Kids, According To Occupational Therapists

Expert advice on how to choose the best for your child.

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If you’re looking for a toy that’ll provide endless hours of entertainment and enrichment, the best building toys for kids are a great choice. These types of toys can help to “create the foundations that children need for school-based engagement, imaginary play, social play, gross motor play, speech/language development, literacy, mathematics, and more,” according to Kavita Naik Cherry, MS OTR/L. In order to choose the best building toys for your kids though, you’ll want to take your child’s age and skill level into account, as well as their specific interests.

The Experts

Hope Caracci, OTR/L, OTD, has more than 20 years experience as an occupational therapist. Additionally, she’s the American Occupational Therapy Association’s program manager for the Approved Provider Program.

Kavita Naik Cherry, MS OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist at a private practice, serving those as young as two months up to 20 years old. Additionally, she’s a member of the clinical team for Pathfinder Health, a child development tracker app. She received her master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Thomas Jefferson University.

Anne Szmergalski, MHS, OTR/L, has been an occupational therapist at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago for more than 10 years. She has her bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Western Michigan University and her Master of Health Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of Indianapolis.

What To Look For When Shopping For The Best Building Toys For Kids

Building toys is actually a pretty broad category with many different options within it — essentially any toy that requires your child to stack, construct, or assemble pieces could be classified as one. To narrow down all of the choices, consider your child’s age and skills, as well as their specific interests.

Your Child’s Age & Skills

When choosing a toy, first look at the manufacturer’s recommended age for the product — this will give you a good idea about whether or not the product is a safe and suitable option for your child. “Avoid toys that are not recommended for the child’s age because they may have parts that are deemed a hazard (e.g., choking, suffocation),” explains Hope Caracci, OTR/L, OTD.

Beyond the recommended age for the product though, Anne Szmergalski, MHS, OTR/L also stresses the importance of taking your child’s specific skills and development into account. “If a toy or activity feels too challenging, it may lead to frustration and giving up prematurely,” she explains. “However, if we look for an activity that is just slightly more challenging than your child’s current skill level, they are likely to feel successful while also challenging their skills towards the next level.”

Your Child’s Interests

At the end of the day, it’s important to choose a toy that your child will actually want to play with — because toys should be fun! To help encourage this, take your child’s specific interest areas into account when selecting a toy. “I would always consider what is motivating to your child to begin with,” explains Szmergalski. “For example, if your child is more interested in cars than dinosaurs, that should also guide your toy/activity choice.”

Shop The Best Building Toys For Kids

In a hurry? Here are the best building toys for kids:

  1. Writer’s Pick: This Set Of Magnetic Building Tiles For Kids: PicassoTiles Magnet Building Tiles
  2. A Fan-Favorite Set Of Plastic Blocks: MEGA BLOKS Big Building Bag
  3. A Colorful Wooden Block Set: Melissa & Doug Solid-Wood Building Blocks
  4. This Stacking Toy For Babies As Young As 6 Months: Fat Brain Toys Tobbles Neo
  5. A Kit For Building Epic Forts: Obuby Kids Fort Building Kit
  6. A Starter LEGO Set With 400+ Pieces: LEGO Classic Creative Brick Box
  7. This Classic Building Toy With Retro Charm: Lincoln Logs Wood Logs
  8. A Flower-Themed Building Toy For Little Gardeners: CENOVE Flower Garden Building Toy
  9. A Building Toy Set For The Bath: Boon PIPES Building Toddler Bath Tub Toy
  10. A Construction-Themed Set Of Building Toys: Melissa & Doug Wooden Construction Building Set
  11. A Building Set With 40 Different Design Ideas: K'nex Beginner Model Building Set
  12. A See-Through Marble Run Set: Marble Genius Marble Run Starter Set
  13. A Solar-Powered Robot Building Kit For Older Kids: Sillbird STEM Solar Robot Toy

These are some of the absolute best building toys for kids — with a variety of picks for different ages and interests, you’ll surely find your child’s new favorite toy in the bunch.

1

Writer’s Pick: This Set Of Magnetic Building Tiles For Kids

Pros:

  • Writer-approved and has over 27,000 five-star Amazon ratings
  • Features strong magnets to hold your child’s creation together

With a near-perfect 4.9-star rating after nearly 30,000 reviews, this set of colorful building tiles from PicassoTiles is clearly popular on Amazon. And it just so happens to be one of my three-year-old daughter’s absolute favorite toys as well. With 100 magnetic tiles in a couple of different sizes, my daughter uses this set to construct some seriously creative creations, ranging from “furniture” for her favorite stuffed animals to super tall towers (she usually stands on a small stool to complete them!) to bridges that she pushes her vehicles across. It provides hours of entertainment — and she loves it so much that she asked for a second set.

One reviewer wrote: “Best toy I have ever received for my 4 year old. He plays with these blocks more than any other toy. Literally everyday he is coming up with some new and impressive creation. So proud of him. Love these magnet blocks!”

Ages: 3+ years | Number of pieces: 100 | Made from: Plastic

2

A Fan-Favorite Set Of Plastic Blocks

Pros:

  • Costs less than $20
  • The sets collectively boast nearly 100,000 Amazon reviews

With a 4.8-star rating on Amazon after tens of thousands of reviews, these blocks from MEGA BLOKS are worthy of the hype — and best yet, this set costs less than $20. You can choose from three different options, but this particular one comes with 80 large and colorful plastic blocks in various sizes and shapes, as well as a zippered bag for storage. Both older kids and toddlers love this pick (the large block size is certainly easy enough for little hands to hold). Scoop up a set for your own kids, and heck, even one to give as a gift — you can’t go wrong.

One reviewer wrote: “Big colorful blocks for baby to practice building! My daughter is only one and she’s already able to connect a few blocks together. She loves the colors and hasn’t gotten tired of these after having them awhile now. I’d recommend to other parents of new toddlers!”

Ages: 1+ years | Number of pieces: 80 | Made from: Plastic

3

A Colorful Wooden Block Set

Pros:

  • Pieces are made from solid yet lightweight wood
  • Blocks feature bright colors and rounded edges

A set of wooden blocks is basically a staple of childhood — and this one from Melissa & Doug is definitely one of the best options out there. With 100 blocks in nine various shapes (including cubes, half circles, rectangles, and triangles) and four painted colors in a set, your little one will have a blast constructing a variety of structures. The lightweight blocks range in size from about 1 inch to 2.25 inches long, and they have a super-smooth finish that won’t splinter. You can also opt for sets that include other toys as well. Melissa & Doug is a cult-favorite brand that won’t disappoint — as evidenced by the 21,000-plus reviews and 4.8-star rating overall this product has on the site.

While more pricey, a non-painted blocks set from Melissa & Doug is also available, should that interest you.

One reviewer wrote: “Durable. Sturdy. My toddler loves these blocks! So many different shapes that he uses to build tall towers! Hours of fun!”

Ages: 2+ years | Number of pieces: 100 | Made from: Wood

4

This Stacking Toy For Babies As Young As 6 Months

Pros:

  • Appropriate for young children
  • Bright and colorful to catch your child’s attention

Designed for babies as young as six months old, this toy from Fat Brain Toys is the perfect first building set — your child will enjoy the challenge of balancing and stacking the six different-sized sphere pieces on top of the sturdy base. Each sphere is dual-colored to catch your child’s eye, and they’re made from high-quality plastic to last the long haul.

One reviewer wrote: “My 8 month old daughter received this as a gift, and I have to say I’ve never seen anything like it! [...] The weighted balls make for some really interesting and fun towers, and it's all easy for my daughter to handle.”

Ages: 6+ months | Number of pieces: 7 | Made from: Plastic

5

A Kit For Building Epic Forts

Pros:

  • Multiple children can enjoy it together
  • Can use indoors or outside

This fort building kit is the coolest. It comes with 85 pieces (including sticks and green and blue ball connectors) that your child can use to construct their very own fort-like structure. (Call it a tent, igloo, princess castle, cave ... it’s up to your child’s imagination!) Many parents on Amazon commented that they also gave their kid a blanket or sheet to use with this pick in order to make a covered hideaway. It’s a great product for multiple children to enjoy together — and don’t be surprised if you end up joining in on the fun, too. Use this set indoors or out, and store all of the pieces in the included bag when playtime is over.

One reviewer wrote: “This was a great purchase to teach teamwork, creativity, and problem solving. My kids range in age (elementary school) but everyone was able to have a part in building it and then playing in the fort once completed. It also gave them an activity to do together that took up a lot of time which is nice--less screen time! There are so many combinations they can make so each time they play with it they can try something different.”

Ages: 5+ years | Number of pieces: 85 | Made from: Plastic

6

A Starter LEGO Set With 400+ Pieces

Pros:

  • Huge variety of pieces in different sizes, shapes, and colors
  • Comes with the baseplate your child can build on

If you haven’t introduced your child to the wonderful world of LEGO, now is the time to do so. This specific LEGO set is the perfect option for beginners, since it comes with hundreds of pieces in different colors, shapes, and sizes (including some unique pieces like windows, eyes, and wheel rims). And it even includes the baseplate that your child can build on top of. The creation possibilities are virtually endless!

This set comes with a handy storage container, as well as an instruction booklet with building ideas. If your child needs more pieces, check out this set with nearly 800 LEGO pieces. And if you have a younger child that’s interested in building, consider this DUPLO set with larger pieces that are safe for kids 18 months and older.

One reviewer wrote: “My 9yo daughter has spent days building and building and building. It comes with a book of different things she can build from a train to an alligator and flowers. You can’t beat the price and I love that there is more than one design she can make with them.”

Ages: 4+ years | Number of pieces: 484 | Made from: Plastic

7

This Classic Building Toy With Retro Charm

Pros:

  • A nostalgic option that stands the test of time
  • Made with durable

Lincoln Logs are a total favorite from my childhood — my brother and I used to spend hours constructing various buildings with them! Now your child, too, can enjoy this nostalgic pick with this anniversary set of Lincoln Logs. Made from high-quality maple wood, the 111-piece set includes a range of pieces (some are a natural wood color, while others are red or green) to make buildings with walls, roofs, chimneys, porches, and more. Your child can choose to come up with their own creations or follow the three building ideas included in the manual. When playtime is done, utilize the included tin and lid for storage.

One reviewer wrote: “These are just like the Lincoln logs I remember playing with as a child. Prefect gift for a child who loves to build. I spent hours playing with them when I was a child so I wanted something just like I had for my boys.”

Ages: 3+ years | Number of pieces: 111 | Made from: Wood

8

A Flower-Themed Building Toy For Little Gardeners

Pros:

  • Perfect for a little gardener
  • Comes with a handy storage case

Little gardeners will love creating their own flowers and planting them with this set. The 130-piece toy set includes a variety of vibrant flower pieces — like leaves, petals, pistils, and stamens, all of which are pretty realistic looking to allow your child to learn about the parts of a plant — as well as two pots and eight bases to hold all of the creations. Made from BPA-free plastic, this set can be enjoyed inside or out, and if the pieces end up getting a little dirty, they can easily be tossed in the dishwasher for cleaning.

One reviewer wrote: “I bought this as a gift for my three year old niece who seems to lose interest in a toy after about five minutes. This was a whole other story. She absolutely loved building her garden and spent over 45 minutes making the flowers, changing the flowers and then taking everything apart so she could start again. It was such a nice toy for us to play with together. However be careful if there is a smaller child in the house as some of the pieces are a bit small.”

Ages: 3 — 6 years | Number of pieces: 130 | Made from: Plastic

9

A Building Toy Set For The Bath

Pros:

  • Make bath time more fun
  • Suction cups stick to smooth tile

Take building to the bathtub with this set of bath toys from Boon. Included with this pick are five pipes (each of which has a unique shape with a distinct function) that’ll suction directly onto smooth bathroom tiles or the tub. Your child can choose to pour water through each pipe individually or arrange them together in a chain for even more fun. While the pieces are made from plastic (which is BPA and PVC free), Amazon reviewers confirm they’re quite sturdy and durable. Choose from three sets with different colors and pieces.

One reviewer wrote: “I have a 3 year old son who never wants to take a bath. Sound familiar? This product is so creative yet simple. My son, who loves to build things, fell in love immediately. It is hard to pull him out of the tub. They can be arranged in any order on the wall, then you just poor water and watch the magic happen.”

Ages: 1+ years | Number of pieces: 5 | Made from: Plastic

10

A Building Set For 5 Years+ With 40 Different Design Ideas

Pros:

  • Comes with instructions to build 40 different designs
  • Can make your own creations, too

This building set from K’nex comes with 141 pieces (including rods and connectors) and instructions to build a whopping 40 different designs like a car, skyscraper, airplane, rowboat, and more. Your child can even assemble their own creations, too — the sky’s the limit! This pick is packaged in a suitcase-style box with a handle for storage.

Another set for kids as young as 3 years old is available for purchase, too, should that be of interest.

One reviewer wrote: “Keeps my kiddos busy for hours. They love building the the suggested items but also using their imaginations to build new things. 100% worth the price!”

Ages: 5+ years | Number of pieces: 141 | Made from: Plastic

11

A Construction-Themed Set Of Building Toys

Pros:

  • Includes realistic-looking tools and pieces to build just like grown-ups
  • Comes with a handy storage box

Melissa & Doug is synonymous with high-quality toys and this construction building set from the brand is no different. The set comes with dozens of sturdy wooden pieces including nuts, bolts, and bars that your child can use to assemble a variety of creations — printed directly on the storage box are building plans for a crane, motorcycle, airplane, and race car to get the fun started. Also included is a child-sized screwdriver to complete the job.

One reviewer wrote: “This is made of bright colorful wood. Easy for small hands to manage. My 4 year old grandson has spent many hours building assorted things. The nuts, bolts and tools fit together and are easy for him to use. My grandchildren have played with this for several years. Its very open ended.”

Ages: 4 — 6 years | Number of pieces: 48 | Made from: Wood

12

A See-Through Marble Run Set

Pros:

  • Transparent pieces so the marble is visible from start to finish
  • Can purchase additional sets to grow your collection

This marble run starter set from Marble Genius has been described by reviewers as “one of the absolute best purchases” and a toy that provides “hours and hours of laughs and entertainment.” This set comes with 80 transparent track pieces that’ll allow your child to create super awesome structures, as well as 50 glass marbles to use on them. There’s even a compatible app with interactive instructions and building challenges.

Want even more building fun? Check out the two larger sets that are available to grow your collection.

One reviewer wrote: “I don’t usually write reviews but this has been the star birthday present this year. Very easy to put together, my newly turned 4 year old can put it together on his own, but we have loved playing with him and building too! The pieces fit together snuggly and is sturdy once put together! I also love that it came with real marbles and not plastic like some other sets! Definitely worth the money!”

Ages: 4+ years | Number of pieces: 130 | Made from: Plastic, marble

13

A Solar-Powered Robot Building Kit For Older Kids

Pros:

  • Can create 12 different robots with this kit
  • Powered by the sun, which means no batteries are required

For older kids interested in building robots, this set from Sillbird is seriously so cool. The set comes with 190 pieces that allow your child to create 12 different solar-powered robots that can move on land or water. There are two levels of complexity to select from based on your child’s skill level — and your kiddo can opt to build their own custom designs, too.

One reviewer wrote: “This solar-powered robot is really great. It has 12 different construction robots, and it is also divided into entry level and complex level. Second, it provides detailed information on 12 types of robot design guidelines from level 1 to level 2. Children can start building robots based on the detailed information provided, so that they don’t appear complicated and immediately lose interest.”

Ages: 8+ years | Number of pieces: 190 | Made from: Plastic

Experts:

Hope Caracci, OTR/L, OTD, occupational therapist and the American Occupational Therapy Association’s program manager for the Approved Provider Program.

Kavita Naik Cherry, MS OTR/L, pediatric occupational therapist and clinical team member for Pathfinder Health

Anne Szmergalski, MHS, OTR/L, occupational therapist