Children love to build things. From an early age, they will take whatever is available and begin stacking.
Making houses, forts, castles, and whatever else their imagination conjures up can keep children occupied for hours. And important skills are learned through playing with construction toys. These include hand-eye coordination, logical thinking, and bringing a creative idea to fruition.
The toy industry has embraced this childhood activity by producing a full line of building blocks and construction toys.
There are now dozens of choices for children who want to enjoy construction toys. From simple alphabet blocks to Scrap Metal Sculptures, kids have a wide range from which to choose. Here are some of the top sellers:
Lego: What began as simple interlocking bricks has turned into an entire industry. According to the Lego Company, children spend over 5 billion hours a year playing with Lego bricks. Lego comes in a variety of sizes (big ones for little hands and little ones for big hands) and specialized Lego kits make up a large potion of their product line.
Gearbotics: Kids can make their own robots with Gearbotics. Kits include claw arms, wheels, motors, and lots more, and the company makes things kid-friendly by color coding all of their parts.
K’Nex: This company bills itself as the maker of the world’s most creative construction toy. Knex sells a variety of kits, from deluxe bridge building to simple levers and pulleys.
Ello: Launched specifically for the female market, Ello allows girls to “create anything they can imagine.” Girls can design houses, towns, and even a water world from colorful pieces that snap together. Ello creations can be decorated after they are built.
Rok Works: Rockenbok takes the basic construction set and adds a new twist by integrating radio-controlled vehicles. Kids can create roads that will carry the vehicles and garages to house them.
Zome Systems: Zome is based on mathematical and molecular models and it is frequently used in classrooms to teach algebra, geometry, and more. Although it can be used as a teaching tool, Zome is also a lot of fun. For example, kids can create 3-D shapes, and then dip them into bubble mix to create truly crazy bubbles.
Mega Bloks: Similar to Lego, these blocks can be used to create everything from action figures to street racers. Like most toys in the construction category, Mega Blocks offers different product lines for younger and older children.
Whatever your choice, parents can’t go wrong with construction toys. From simple blocks to complicated architectural designs, construction toys show children that they can learn while having fun. On a frantic afternoon, remember to pull out the construction toys and watch as kids quiet down and start constructing things that they have plucked from their imaginations.
Some of the first building sets to enter the marketplace were Tinkertoys, the Erector Set, and Lincoln Logs. Tinkertoys were introduced at the American Toy Fair in 1913, and were an instant sensation.
Children took the thin rails and round spools and created engineering masterpieces. The Erector Set was created by A.C. Gilbert. He began selling his “Mysto Erector Structural Steel Builder” the same year that Tinkertoys hit the market. It quickly became the toy of choice for young architects across America, as they set about taking the metal beams and building skyscrapers and bridges.
Lincoln Logs followed shortly thereafter. Wide-eyed children found them under their Christmas trees in 1916, and the interlocking logs became part of history.
Each of these original construction toys has been updated and modernized to include hard plastic parts and brightly-colored pieces. They have proven to be as popular with this generation as they were with previous ones.