Do you know a child who loves to build and create? Here’s a great collection of creative gifts for kids that inspire imaginative play.
Updated November 2022
We 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. 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
There are so many different kinds of blocks and building shapes. Here are some of our favorites!
- Magnetic Tiles: We LOVE magnetic tiles. They are super versatile and fun for kids of all ages. Picasso Tiles, Magnatiles, and Playmags are all great choices.
- Magnetic blocks: Tegu are unique magnetic blocks that keep your structure intact after it’s completed. And check out the Tegu Magbot!
- LEGOs: Need we say more? Start with a basic LEGO bricks set and then explore and build your own creations. You can use The Lego Ideas Book as inspiration!
- Wooden Blocks: Sometimes the basics are the best! This maple block set is nice because it has pieces long enough to make bridges and tunnels. These large natural branch blocks are fun to us, too!
Cars and Roads
If your kids are using their blocks to make towns and cities, they’ll need to make roads for them!
- DIY play mat: Let your kids make their own play mat for open-ended, limitless play!
- Vehicles: the options are endless. We love matchbox cars but there are lots of other small vehicles to choose from.
- Roads: You can use blue painters’ tape or road tape.
Indoor Fort Kit
These have been a favorite for years! Kids can build forts inside, outside, and in any shape or style they want!
- Fort Magic Kits: Read all about these kits here and here.
- Fort Extras and Decorations: You can use sheets or play silks as walls, ceilings, and decor. And these clips are perfect holding fabric to the fort. They are worth the price as they are easy to manipulate for little hands and have great holding power. You can also add push lamps for lighting small spaces, a pulley system or bucket and rope (children love to send toys, snacks, surprises up to friends in trees, down to kids below decks, up and down from bunk beds, etc.).
DIY Open-Ended Toys
You don’t have to spend lots of money to give your children creative and open-ended toys. Here are some favorite DIYs.
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.
Creative DIY Kits as Gifts for Kids
You can put these kits together with items you already have or items you can purchase easily at hardware store and toy store. (Great for last minute shopping!)
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 it’s been used. It’s less about getting the perfect item and more about giving your child the space and invitation to explore with these items.
Outside Science Kit
Give your kids the tools to explore outside! Keep it simple and they will have a blast digging and observing. Some items you can include are:
- A 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: for studying all of the tiny things they find!
- Bug House: for catching/observing bugs and then releasing them
(parent co-worker required for safety)
For the smallest builders (preschool-early elementary), we like the tools offered at Montessori Services. For mid-elementary and up, we suggest simply getting them smaller versions of regular tools at a hardware store.
- Tools: You can include a tool box, simple tools, like a hammer and nails, measuring tape, and clamps.
- Extras: Don’t forget safety goggles! And scrap wood* or 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. We 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 sell boxes of various sizes. You could purchase boxes in graduated sizes (nesting) for building fun.
Fill an Art Caddy
What kid wouldn’t love an art caddy filled with new art supplies!?
- Art caddy: We love these clear caddies for storage.
- Supplies: Then add some essentials like a mini sketchbook, colored pencils, stickers (try a sticker subscription or pick up some fun animal stickers), and markers (regular and/or extra fun)
We hope these suggestions help you find gifts for the building-loving kids in your life!
More Creative Gift Ideas for Kids
- Creative Gift Ideas for Toddlers & Preschoolers
- The Best Open Ended Toys for Kids to Foster Creativity & Imagination
- 10 Fun Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Kids
- The Last-Minute Stocking Stuffer Shopping Guide
- 25 BEST Kids Art Supplies and Where to Buy Them
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