The 10 Best Kids Building Sets

Updated December 04, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Kids Building Sets
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. No matter how many technologically-advanced electronic toys come out, it seems kids always enjoy building sets. Find the right one from our selection to challenge your little ones' creative skills. They will think they are simply having hours of fun, but you'll know they are also developing important skills, like hand-eye coordination, shape recognition and critical thinking. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best kids building set on Amazon.

10. Roylco Straws & Connectors

The Roylco Straws & Connectors is a mega set that is perfect for building huge creations, like forts, houses or pirate ships. It's a great way to get children of different ages to play together, though the straws don't always stay in the connectors.
  • straws may be cut to different sizes
  • ideal for kids five years old and up
  • messy to clean up
Brand Roylco
Model R6090
Weight 3.3 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Meccano Super Construction

The Meccano Super Construction encourages kids of 10 years and older to build and rebuild, using two real tools and 638 pieces to create 25 motorized models, including a crane with an extendable hook. It may be too advanced for some children, though.
  • includes a 6v electric motor
  • handy carrying case
  • instructions are a bit vague
Brand Meccano
Model 6032896.0
Weight 7.2 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

8. Lauri Tall-Stackers

The Lauri Tall-Stackers uses a 100-hole crepe rubber pegboard as a base on which children can build structures as tall as they like using the pegs and tower mats. All of the brightly colored pieces are durable and should last for years.
  • 100-percent latex-free
  • rubber pegboard is washable
  • doesn't come with a storage bag
Brand PlayMonster
Model 2450
Weight 3.7 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

7. Magz-Bricks 60 piece

The Magz-Bricks 60 piece contains magnetized blocks of the same shape, but in five bright colors, which help keep kids' attention. Their uniform shape makes it easy for young kids to stack them quickly, and the interlocking magnets keep them securely in place.
  • introduces properties of magnetism
  • can be used in physical therapy
  • unlimited design possibilities
Brand Magz
Model pending
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

6. K'nex 70 Model

The K'nex 70 Model offers hours of open-ended play and develops children's spatial awareness while they use high-quality pieces that fit together easily and securely. With wheels and rotors, your child can create cool interactive toys that move, unlike most other brands.
  • good for home or classroom use
  • simple step by step instructions
  • free replacement parts if needed
Brand K'NEX
Model 13419
Weight 3.4 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. Zoob Builder Z

If you've got a little engineer on your hands with tons of imagination, the Zoob Builder Z is a great set at an affordable price. There are five different shapes to challenge a child's thinking, and the included heavy-duty plastic tub makes cleanup a breeze.
  • reinforces stem education principles
  • develops fine motor skills
  • 20 different connection options
Brand ZOOB
Model 11125
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

4. MindWare Keva Contraptions

The MindWare Keva Contraptions allows children to build a variety of structures and geometric forms out of precision-milled, solid wooden planks. It comes with a basic activity book that includes ideas for buildings and vehicle models.
  • all pieces are identical
  • helps kids understand balance
  • doesn't require any connectors
Brand MindWare
Model 44156W
Weight 6.5 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. TinkerToy 200 Pieces

The TinkerToy 200 Pieces is a classic that has been enjoyed by children for decades. Your kiddo can build anything from a giant castle to a flying dragon with different rods and spools, plus each piece snaps together easily and stays put until disassembled.
  • includes building ideas
  • made in the usa
  • helps develop hand-eye coordination
Brand Tinkertoy
Model 56578
Weight 3.7 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Learning Resources Gears Gears Gears

Learning Resources Gears Gears Gears serves as a child's introduction to the world of STEM by encouraging them to sort, group, design, and construct. It boosts their problem solving skills and helps create an interest in engineering concepts.
  • includes pillars and cranks
  • strengthens hand muscles
  • teaches cause and effect
Brand Learning Resources
Model LSP9162-AMZ
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Magna Tiles Clear Colors

The Magna Tiles Clear Colors comes with 32 pieces for turning your little one's imagination into amazing 3-D creations. These translucent tiles have strong magnets along the edges for easy connection and look like stained glass when held up to the light.
  • helps develop shape recognition
  • suitable for a wide age range
  • compatible with other magnetic tiles
Brand Magna Tiles
Model 02132
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Relating Spaces

A tremendous amount of our daily lives depends on the quality of our spacial reasoning. Every time you unexpectedly twist an ankle, miss a curb or a step; bump into walls, tables, door frames, and more, it's usually the result of a lapse in spacial awareness.

In more concerted cases, overpacking a suitcase to the point where it won't close, trying to fit four people in a two person tent while camping, and other silly examples illustrate ways in which a gap in your spacial reasoning can come back to bite you.

The brain is a plastic thing, which is to say that it's constantly learning and evolving. But the vast majority of your brain's development occurs within the first few years of life, with a kind of diminishing return as you age and pass on through puberty and into adulthood. There is no better time to work at developing the skills and ingrained quality of spacial reasoning than at a young age.

The building sets on our list, even as they entertain your kids with hours of creativity, exploration, and the occasional thrill of destruction, will all also help to solidify important concepts that will help them down the line. Not every kid who picks up a building set will go on to be a mathematician with a specialty in geometry, or become the next Frank Lloyd Wright, but he or she will undoubtedly have an advantage in those fields in school and in life.

Builders And Creators

There's a pretty stark divide among kids when it comes to building sets. Most kids will own either of the two primary set categories, but in their hearts there's really only room for one style, and knowing which kind they prefer will just about cleave our list in twain before you begin to consider other variables.

Those two primary categories are the free-builders and the designed builders. I know free-builders sounds a little bit like Freemasons, but I don't mean to imply that these are the kids destined to preside over the world order by the force of the their invisible hands. I mean that their sets aren't meant to be any one thing.

The blocks and pieces in free-builder sets aren't meant to be put together like a model in any particular manner. They leave the end product open-ended, preferring instead to engage your child's imagination from the ground up. Design builders do just the opposite. They usually come with a small pamphlet of instructions, and your child will follow this flow to the letter and eventually emerge with a well-built, finely crafted item, like a truck, boat, or building.

It's impossible to say which style provides the better educational experience. The lessons that a design can teach a child about the importance of pre-planning and patient execution of a specific task are invaluable. So, too, are the revelations of the creative imagination when something that wasn't necessarily supposed to be anything suddenly becomes something recognizable and exciting.

In a perfect world, perhaps your child would spend equal amounts of time with either kind of building set, though that might make for a boy or girl who is a jack of all trades, master of none. What matters is that you tune into what their preferences would be, so that if you buy them a box of bricks with no instructions they'll actually put it to use, or if you get them a set to make some fancy trucks they won't just tear the instructions up and build whatever they want.

The only other major variable to consider in your purchase is the relevant age for each set. Some of the sets on our list are clearly intended for younger groups of children, while others are far too complicated for a younger age bracket to comprehend. Each set has its specific age recommendation, and those are usually right on the mark.

A Building Boom At The Turn Of The Century

The building block has been a popular children's toy since long before an industry for children's toys existed. As far back as the late 17th century, there are mentions of square, lettered blocks very much akin to alphabet blocks, the modern precursors to the sets on our list.

It wasn't until the early 20th century that more complicated building sets became popular among children. Very early in the century, on an expedition to Japan with his father who had designed the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, John Lloyd Wright invented a toy architecture set based on the model pieces his father was using to create his designs. This set would go on to take the name Lincoln Logs, after the construction of Abraham Lincoln's cabin in Illinois.

At around the same time, Alfred Carlton Gilbert and his Mysto Manufacturing Company patented and began to market a steel construction set for young boys interested in architecture. He called the sets Erector, and their popularity exploded almost instantly.

A little over a decade later, a wooden toy workshop in Denmark began to produce interlocking blocks of various rectangular lengths and colors. The Lego Company eventually switched from wooden pieces to plastics, and their success has been consistent for nearly a century.

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Last updated on December 04, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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