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
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.
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.
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.
- Basic Lego bricks set
- Legos windows and doors
- Legos wheels set
- Lego building plate
- Lego education minifigure set
- The Lego Ideas Book
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
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.
- Blue painters tape (or buy it at your local hardware store!)
- Or for more colors, try colored masking tape.
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!)
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
Build Your Own City
(Let the kids design roads and a town… as simple or detailed as they like)
- Poster boards or a large, flat piece cardboard
- Matchbox cars or other small vehicles
- Maple building blocks
- Old blanket (My kids love to drive their cars over mountains/valleys in a blanket)
- Blue painters tape or road tape
(parent co-worker required for safety)
For the smallest builders (preschool-early elementary), I like the tools offered at Montessori Services. For mid-elementary and up, I suggest simply getting them smaller versions of regular tools at a hardware store.
- Tool box
- Measuring tape
- Safety goggles
- Miter saw with plastic box
- Scrap wood*
- Stumps (to be used as a work bench and for nailing practice)
*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.
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.)
- 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.
- Blocks: Cut 2×2 craft grade poplar from the hardware store into cubes
- Natural branch blocks: Saw tree branches into small stumps; here’s a good tutorial
- Peg people: here’s a tutorial for making superhero peg people.
- Playsilks: You can also dye your own.
Fill an Art Caddy
- Art caddy
- A mini sketchbook
- Colored pencils and pencil sharpener
- Stickers (Try a sticker subscription or pick up some fun animal stickers)
- Markers (regular and/or extra fun)
About Rachel Flaherty
Rachel is mama to 4 boys (9.5, 8, 5.5, 4) and wife to Doug (of Rustics Reborn).
How about you? What do you recommend as creative gifts for kids who love to build? Leave a comment below!