Thank you for checking out part 3 of the Must Have Toys Series. Make sure you check out Part 1 about dramatic play and Part 2 about small world play. You can also check out the Facebook Live video I did last week on Construction Play!
Let's talk about construction play! This post does contain affiliate links, but these are all toys that we own, love, and use during routine construction play in our home.
Construction play is any type of play that invites a child to build or create something. This can be your traditional block play, which we will talk about in just a second, or it can be more non-traditional types of building.
Construction play affords children opportunities to problem solve, express their own ideas, make predictions, and practice math skills. Construction play gives children practice in all developmental areas. In the Facebook live video, I promised I would link the 10 Things Children Learn from Block Play! Here it is!
If you only buy one type of Construction Play toy, buy a set of unit blocks.
My oldest daughter received this set of wooden unit blocks when she was one. Unit blocks are the ultimate open-ended resource for children of all ages. Young toddlers may fill and dump buckets with the blocks. Older toddlers will begin to make simple enclosures and towers. As children get older and have more experiences using blocks, their structures will become more advanced.
Duplo blocks are very open-ended. Of course you can buy them in a kit, but the pieces can be used to make many different things. The shapes and colors can be sorted and counted. Once your child has mastered the duplo blocks, you can move to regular lego blocks.
These were an unexpected hit for my four year old. He is surprisingly great at looking at the plans on the cards and recreating the structures. I think they are tough! I even take these to my college classes and have my pre-service teachers see who can solve them the fastest.
In the Facebook live, I incorrectly said that we had magna-tiles. We actually have magformer blocks, which are very similar. These blocks are neat because they are magnetic and translucent. It adds another fun element to building and creating.
Now we move to a little more non-traditional type of building. I do not advise using the marble run kit with younger children due to small pieces. The marble run kits are all tube pieces which allow children to create a path for the marble to travel. There are so many possibilities.
We don't usually think about train tracks when we think about building, but when children plan out the path they are using the same problem solving and creating skills as they would during block structure building. These wooden train tracks are great to add to the other types of block play.
Once your children gain confidence with the wooden track, you may want to try the motorized railway track sets. There are tons of different types of sets. We have 2 crates full! You can create bridges and tunnels. Then you set the battery powered train on the track to see if your path works.
It wouldn't be right if we didn't talk about real construction. I think it is important for children to learn to build using tools. Just like we teach children to use writing utensils, we can teach them to use tools to create.
Take a breath, relax. Yes, these are real tools. Obviously, I think children should be supervised when using tools. But using a real child-sized hammer improves eye-hand coordination. My son loves using the hammer to pound in brad nails to scrap pieces of wood. You can also use golf tees in pumpkins!