Creative Play Parent Resources

Creative Gifts for Kids Who Love To Build

Creative gift ideas for kids who love to build

I often get requests for creative gifts for kids who love to build. Kids who like to tinker, build worlds out of blocks, get muddy, and move their bodies; kids who are highly creative and imaginative but may not often choose to sit still to draw or paint. If you know a kid who falls into this category, this post is for you!

This creative gift guide for active kids and kids who love to build is written by Rachel Flaherty, a longtime friend and mother to four boys, ages 4 through 9.

Creative Gifts for Kids Who Love to Build

This post contains affiliate links.

These have been favorites of our family over the years, but the list doesn’t end here. Please leave a comment to add your favorites to the list!

You’ll be able to find many of these items locally, at the toy store or hardware store, for example. However, online links are included for your convenience and so you can find out more information about the products mentioned.

Magnetic Tiles

Magnetic tiles

Tegu Magnetic Blocks

Magnetic blocks

Tegu are unique magnetic blocks that keep your structure intact after it’s completed. They are also “toys with a purpose” as your purchase supports a company that pays its workers fairly, uses sustainable materials, gives back to its community, and more.  You can read their story here:

Lego Building Set


Need I say more?  I know they are already popular and maybe not worth mentioning, but seriously, it’s what most families with whose kids love to build use more than anything. Start with a kit but then explore and build your own creations.

Building Blocks and Branch Blocks

Wooden Blocks 

Definitely important to get a set that has pieces long enough to make bridges and tunnels etc, such as this maple block set. These large natural branch blocks are fun to use as stands and as stages for people.

Blue Painters Tape

Blue Painters Tape

Limitless fun! Kids can make parking lots and roads on floors (use caution on finished hardwoods), pictures on walls, tape up their own art work, decorate and connect toys (my kids connect trucks to one another and tape people onto trucks), art resist, etc.

DIY Kits as Gifts

Note: Feel free to use what you already have on hand for these kits… Wash a trowel you rarely use and give it to your kid in the outdoor science kit, for example. They won’t know or care that you already had it. It’s less about getting the perfect item and more about giving your child the space and invitation to explore with these items.

You can put together these kits with items you already have or items you can purchase easily at hardware store and toy store. (Great for last minute shopping!)

Outdoor Science Kit for Kids

Outside Science Kit

  • Shovel. A trowel is probably less likely to break and easier for a kid to use than a larger shovel, but you can use what you have.
  • Magnifying glass
  • Bug House for catching/observing bugs and then releasing them
Make Your Own Play Mat for Kids with Paint Sticks

Build Your Own City

(Let the kids design roads and a town… as simple or detailed as they like)

DIY Carpentry Kit for Kids

Carpentry Kit

(parent co-worker required for safety)

For the smallest builders  (preschool-early elementary), I like the tools offered at Montessori ServicesFor mid-elementary and up, I suggest simply getting them smaller versions of regular tools at a hardware store.

*For those who don’t have access to scrap wood, you can purchase wood at a variety of places including Lowe’s and Home Depot.  I suggest pine or poplar because they are softer and easier to nail into.  You can cut into your desired shapes & sizes, and often these stores will cut the wood for you at no charge.

 A “What Can You Make with This?” Kit

Create your own robot, building, spaceship, sculpture, etc…

  • Save recycled materials of all shapes, sizes, color, and make-up such as lids, cans, boxes from tiny to large, bottles, cardboard tubes, packaging, bubble wrap, twist ties, string, etc.
  • Put these materials in a large box with duct tape and a glue gun and help them build as they wish.  Let them decorate with markers and/or paint as they go or when they are finished constructing.

Note: For those without access to boxes, you can often get boxes from stores before they are cast away.  Also, Lowes and Home Depot sells boxes of various sizes…. You could purchase boxes in graduated sizes (nesting) for building fun.

Creative gift ideas for kids who love to build - fort magic

Indoor Fort Kit

  • Clips for holding sheets and fabric.  I love these clips from Bella Luna Toys. They are worth the price as they are easy to manipulate for little hands and have great holding power.  And when not involved in fort building, it’s fun to clip them together to create little structures.
  • Push lamp for lighting small spaces
  • Sheets of various sizes
  • Clipboard and art caddy (so you can make art in your fort of course!)
  • A pulley system (Children love to send toys, snacks, surprises up to friends in trees, down to kids below decks, up and down from bunk beds, etc.)
  • Bucket
  • Rope
  • Fort Magic!

DIY Wooden Open-Ended Toys

You can purchase many of these online, but you can save a lot of money and make these yourself as well.

Portable Art Caddy for Kids Art

Fill an Art Caddy

Rachel Flaherty and her clan

About Rachel Flaherty

Rachel is mama to 4 boys (9.5, 8, 5.5, 4) and wife to Doug (of Rustics Reborn).

When she’s not kissing bumps and bruises, fixing items broken from wrestling tournaments, preparing food for her army, reading to her loves, enjoys doing admin for Jean, reading to her kids’ classes, exercising, eating chocolate, drinking coffee, and hanging out with friends.

How about you? What do you recommend as creative gifts for kids who love to build? Leave a comment below!

Creative Gifts for Kids Who Love To Build


  • Reply
    A Land
    December 22, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Even though you wrote that the gift ideas might be suitable for girls too, I think having such a stereotypical boys’ toys list is out-dated and regresive. As well as being pretty disappointing!
    You could have titled your list ‘Construction and creation toys’ for example and then you would have been inclusive to all children. I am a small children’s teacher and my boys and girls play with all the toys and aren’t restricted by stereotypes.Thank goodness.
    I wonder if the ‘Girls presents (and any strange little boys!)’ list is going to be full of present ideas related to flower arranging, dolls, the colour pink, cooking, and looking after the house!

    • Reply
      Brandie Davis
      December 22, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      I thought the same thing. f it’s a inclusive list, why publish it under this title?

    • Reply
      robbie lipe
      February 24, 2015 at 10:07 am

      There was certainly a disclaimer at the very beginning! I love the fact that my daughter used almost all of these ideas as she was growing up; it was up to me to provide her with the materials, and I just didn’t tell her they may have been traditional “boy” activities. It’s the big box toy stores who label their aisles by gender. Heaven forbid that a boy should wander down the “pink”aisle or that a girl should be in the “blue” aisle looking for Star Wars. That is so 30 years ago. It’s up to us parents to change the way society looks at gender and toys.

  • Reply
    December 22, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    In response to the two commenters above, I actually read this article because of the title. This season, I’ve been really disappointed with boys toys I’ve seen in the big stores. I’ve been looking for better ideas, quality toys and items that inspire creativity. I think this is a great list and even though we have many of the items featured, I feel inspired to not give in to the stereotypical plastic crap, mass-manufactured breakable boys toys I have seen recently. Our family has a 4th bday coming up and I have found some great ideas here. By the way, my daughter plays with all these same things as well. She’d never go for flower arranging. :)

  • Reply
    Angie Davy
    December 24, 2014 at 12:51 am

    As a mom to 3 boys i appreciate the list and decided to look at it because of the title! Thank you for the ideas!

  • Reply
    October 11, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    I love, love, love this list!! I grew up with a younger brother and greatly enjoyed playing with his farm toys, racecars, and legos. However, with a little boy on the way, looking at a quality developmental list like this gives me very good ideas for what types of toys to have available in our home for any children. Thank you so much!

  • Reply
    Beth Bishop
    November 25, 2017 at 2:54 am

    Totally agree with your genius tips.And the images are so colourful.
    anyway, thank you for your hard work! I have a son and a daughter.Hope it will be working for my sweet daughter.Thanks again!!

  • Reply
    December 9, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    I googled creative boy gift ideas and came here! Love this! Thank you!

  • Reply
    Malika Agrawal
    February 24, 2020 at 5:55 am

    Interesting blog, I was searching for toys for boys/girls online and i got the list of toys. Was very useful, thanks for sharing this useful blog with us.

  • Reply
    March 2, 2021 at 1:03 am

    This is such an awesome list and helped me a lot with my boys. I was desperately looking for new and creative gift ideas because our home is now filled with legos since they prefer to build stuff with them and I would want them to play with new things other than legos. Thankfully, I found this!

  • Reply
    April 9, 2021 at 8:33 pm

    I LOVE this list! Our family has a 3rd bday coming up and I have found some great ideas here. My daughter plays with all these same things as well. this list gives me more good ideas. Thanks

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