Construction Toys for Children
Construction is a powerful form of play. Whether it’s following instructions to build a Lego model, building a sandcastle on the beach, or creating a 3D robot from junk, it encourages children’s social, physical and cognitive development.
Traditionally seen as a boys activity, this type of play is very suitable for both girls and boys. If you find it hard to find construction toys for girls, why not try ‘Lego friends Heartlake stables’.
Children begin to learn the laws of physics, by understanding why their tower has fallen down and realise that they need to build a sturdy base in order to keep the tower straight to prevent it from tumbling over. Science sets such as ‘Physics Discovery‘, will help an older child gain deeper understanding of why things are happening.
Have you ever felt satisfied when you have finished building something, (e.g. a piece of furniture)? Well, so do children. High levels of satisfaction and achievement, increases their self-confidence as well as their ability and provides a sense of success, meaning that they will want to repeat the exercise.
Children learn through trial and error and construction play enables the manipulation of objects to suit their needs and make materials become purposeful. Parents must let a child investigate and explore the problem and must not interfere with their decisions. We all know that children have limited attention but the ability to continue and work through problems not only enhances problem-solving skills but will also teach children how to persevere in order to reach their goals. This skill is very transferable and will be beneficial in day-to-day life.
Young children learn to distinguish between shapes, sizes, colour and weight and develop the relevant vocabulary.
‘Construction play can be simple at a toddler level, just by stacking blocks, but construction creations increase in complexity with age and ability, creating 3D structures out of Varis’ Stacking Blocks.’
Constructive play encourages children to; stack, mold, connect, rearrange, assemble and disassemble and teaches children the importance of spatial awareness. Through this understanding children develop their mathematical language and learn to use terms such as; below, on top, beside and above. Regular engagement with construction toys, develops divergent thinkers, as they have the ability to problem solve and can think logically and creatively.
Construction toys for children can provide them with crucial motor control benefits such as hand-eye coordination and a lot of the small pieced construction sets such as ‘Miniland Buttons for Lacing’ require fine motor control, which is crucial for many daily activities. Construction toys also promote social development through cooperative play, such as turn taking, learning to support each other by recognising each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Children develop roles within the group and the ‘leader’ will delegate roles to one another according to their ability, developing leadership skills and becoming aware of the dynamics of a group. Tasks can be carried out as a team, which will promote cooperative play and enhance social skills, as there is a shared goal. A team approach will also decrease individual competitiveness.
So what can parents do to support and extend their child’s construction play experiences?
- Get involved – Parents can play in unity with their child, by modeling different types of construction by giving children ideas.
- Provide other materials that children can use to extend their construction. This develops creativity through being inquisitive and experimenting and allows children to think about different qualities of the resources and how these could be manipulated.
- Set a task or give them an idea, but do not dictate- ‘why don’t you build a car garage to store your cars in?’ Tasks can be carried out as a team, which promotes cooperative play and enhance social skills as there is a shared goal. A team approach will also decrease individual competitiveness.
- Children learn through trial and error, so leave them to investigate and explore themselves.
- Ask questions to promote discussion, so children think about their choices, ‘Why have you chosen to use the colour red for your barn roof?’
- Encourage children to visualize their creation and plan head.
- Provide play spaces that are safe and accessible to children.
- Encourage children to tidy up after themselves.
Constructive play is an important part of a healthy play diet and it develops social and imaginary skills, which are the basis for other types of play, such as fantasy role play.
Construction toys appeal to parents and grandparents as well as children due to the traditional element and thus are more inclined to play with their children, compared to more modern screen-based toys. The enduring appeal of construction toys ensures that this type of play will benefit children for generations to come.
This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer