Construction Toys for Kids

Girl playing with wooden blocks
Girl playing with wooden blocks

Before we look at the toys or materials associated with construction,we need to understand what construction is.

When you think about it, the first thing that comes to mind is building, however that is not where it ends.

Constructive Play is about using loose parts for the purpose of connecting, building, experimenting and manipulating materials and elements within the environment to create.

Children set goals and turn their ideas into reality through their creations.

I generally maintain a natural approach to my environmental set ups and opportunities, avoiding plastic resources in most cases, but am not opposed to the use of lego, duplo and other type connecting blocks as these are not something that usually get thrown away, and they can last a lifetime.

I will also recycle existing, unwanted plastic as additions to my natural objects.

Driftwood construction set in basket
Driftwood construction set in basket

Using Driftwood and Tree Slices for Construction

I absolutely love using driftwood and tree slices as construction materials for children to explore and create with. I have touched on this in past posts so forgive me if I repeat myself from time to time.

The beauty of natural driftwood and other types of wood is in the texture and various shapes and sizes. They also smell great, reminding us of the outdoors.

Children experience a sensory overload  as they play and construct with these wonderful resources. They look inviting displayed in baskets or small wooden crates, demanding to be played with.

They also offer the opportunity for young children to explore different ways of balancing and fitting things together as the pieces are not produced in nature to be made to fit.

Building blocks
Building blocks

 

Cardboard and Wood Boxes

Old refrigerator boxes, packing boxes and wooden crates, make amazing construction materials for children. They are open ended resources that provide for children’s imagination and creativity.

They are turned into cars, boats, houses and forts. Children enjoy fitting themselves inside small spaces and jumping out of them to scare each other or play peek-a-boo. By doing this children are learning about their bodies and spacial awareness.

Acting, role and fantasy play can be nurtured through adding props such as art materials, old sheets and fabric, and dress ups/costumes.

Children love to use pretend play to express themselves and create familiar characters. They use language and negotiation skills as they decide who will be which character.

Using boxes in these ways also offers the opportunity to be artistic through decorating, painting and drawing.

Child building with Lego
Child building with Lego

Wooden Blocks and Lego

Wooden blocks are great  for stacking and building wonderful creations, that also cause great delight in infants and toddlers play, when they fall and crash to the floor. Sometimes they will rebuild  their towers or buildings several times just to see the same outcome over and over.

This is all part of some really important learning and development at this age of a child’s life.

They are beginning to understand through repetitive behaviour that the outcome is the same each time.

Things fall down, not up (gravity), and it is still funny each time they do it.

Duplo/Lego  is where the connecting comes in and children are able to become more expressive through their creations and build complexity into their play. It is good for developing those fime motor skills and hand eye coordination.

Children practice working cooperatively, and vocalising their actions, movements, plans and  thoughts work as they work alongside each other sharing their ideas.

Child building with Lego
Child building with Lego

Sand, Mud, Clay and Water

Building sandcastles and sculpting from sand, mud and clay is another form of construction or manipulation. Young children begin to develop some incredible problem solving abilities, alone, and in groups by posing questions and overcoming obstacles.

Things like using water to help bind the sand to hold it in place. simple to us adults but for many children this is a new discovery and  one of those “wow moments”.

A common occurrence in the sandpit is using water to create rivers, channels and watching the flow of water. Watching the water disappear continually and wondering where it is going.

Children start  developing their own theories and making predictions. These are all early science and mathematical concepts that children are using.

Driftwood
Driftwood

Benefits of construction play for kids

This type of play is important for children’s learning during the early years. As seen above, early mathematical and science concepts are being used and developed through this type of play.

Self expression and problem solving is also evident along with things like social competence through negotiating and discussion.

Creativity and imagination are being nurtured and the ability to plan, set goals and share ideas are all highlighted through this area of play.

There is so much going on for children that is supporting physical and cognitive development and the beauty is that most of these experiences can be provided through little or no cost except for time.

Caravan made of Lego
Caravan made of Lego

So…

Construction for kids is not just something to keep them entertained, but has many levels of valuable learning and developmental benefits.

Now that you can see the tremendous benefits for children (and your budget) for constructive play, what do you already have at your disposal that you could use?

Drop me a line if you would like to see more posts like this and enjoy your constructive play.

Have a wonderful day!

Cass

 

 

 

 

6 Replies to “Construction Toys for Kids”

  1. My son loves his Duplo and plain wooden blocks. He makes house and garages for his toy cars. I really like the idea of using natural items like driftwood. It would be a fun adventure to collect the items and then construct with them. 

    I must admit that a lot of the messy sand play occurs at my son’s day care, though we’re coming into summer so we’ll have a lot more opportunity for beach days and sandy fun. Thank you for your article – great concepts about play that I will apply with my son. 

    1. Hello Fiona, The addition of some driftwood to your son’s block collection could enhance his play greatly and I am sure you will both enjoy collecting some together. As a daycare educator myself, I understand the “messy play” only to well 🙂 thanks for stopping by and enjoy your summer. Cass

  2. Hi, I love your ideas of kids constructing while playing with natural materials.

    I remember when I was young, we used to go into the woods and build stuff with wood, stones and dirt.

    The best thing was when at the beach an playing with the sand, shells and driftwood for weeks.

    Your driftwood basket looks very nice and I’m sure kids love to play with it when they have to stay inside.

    1. Hi Stefan thanks for popping in again. It does bring back memories for us “mature” folks. I think the beauty of all these resources and ideas is that they can be used indoors and out. The children should be able to enjoy nature anywhere. Thank you. Cass

  3. I enjoyed reading your article very much. I like your idea of using driftwood and tree slices for construction. By the way, your driftwood construction set in a basket looks really nice. Even though I don’t have little ones right now, it’s nice to have the idea of using natural items like driftwood for your kids’ toy. I have a nephew who is 2 years old. He always wants to go out outside even if the weather is bad. Hopefully, by bringing driftwood to the house will remind him of the outdoor. Thank you for sharing this great information.

    1. Hi there Hong, thank you for stopping by and commenting. I think the wonderful thing about these type of experiences that children are able to enjoy them indoors as well.
      Cheers Cass

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