A Mighty Girl's top picks of building and engineering toys for inventive Mighty Girls from toddlers to teens.
It starts the first moment an infant or toddler realizes that one block can balance on another block. Before you know it, building a tower to the sky (and making it crash down!) has become a favorite activity. For many kids, building toys remain favorites throughout childhood, with structures becoming more complex as kids' building skills advance. And once they can incorporate moving parts, budding engineers get to really explore all the incredible things they can put together!
If you have an amateur architect or engineer on your hands, some intriguing new building toys make a great gift idea. By expanding the materials available for building, you can help kids develop useful skills like fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, planning, and spatial perception — and, of course, let them have a great time doing it! With that in mind, we've showcased our favorite building and engineering toys for kids from toddlers to teens in this blog post, with classic building toys featured in the first part and engineering sets featured in the final section. Whether they are interested in building with blocks, bricks, rods, and connectors, or experimenting with magnets, wedges, and more, there’s something here that will intrigue every child!
Science lovers can also find plenty of empowering options in our blog post Wrapped up in Science: Top 60 Science Toys for Mighty Girls.
Classic Building Toys: Blocks, Rods, and Connectors
As soon as kids learn to stack, they can start having building fun! These toys start out with simple options, but rapidly incorporate more complex forms of building capable of building more elaborate things.
The littlest builders don't just stack blocks: they also toss, squeeze, and even chew them! These squishy plastic blocks are soft enough to be safe even in the hands of overenthusiastic kids, and the BPA-, lead-, and phthalate-free material means you don't have to worry if they end up in someone's mouth. Each block also features a different animal and a number from 1 to 10, all hand-sculpted. This set comes in a recycled plastic bag for easy storage.
Sets of wooden alphabet blocks have been a fixture in toy chests for generations: a simple toy with lots of potential is always a hit with kids. This block set includes a full set of 28 ABC blocks, each of which features a unique animal, a number or math symbol, two printed letters, and two embossed letters. Michigan-made Uncle Goose blocks are built like high-quality traditional block sets, with solid wood construction and embossed letters, but modern parents love them for the renewable wood and nontoxic inks used in their construction.
This cheerful set provides a unique twist on classic wood blocks by offering an intriguing collection of shapes and colors! The whimsical blocks are full of surprises: a little jingling bell, a prism, encased rattling pearly beads, a mirror, and lots of topsy-turvy bright designs. This set, which includes 16 smooth, finely sanded beech wood pieces, finished with non-toxic, child-friendly paint, is another great eco-friendly option for your gift list.
80 oversized interlocking blocks provide the perfect introduction to the fun of brick building! Bright primary colors make these blocks appealing, and they easily slip together and apart so that toddlers don't get frustrated as they build. Plus, for fill-and-spill fun, the set comes in a sturdy reusable BPA- and PVC-free plastic bag.
Mega Bloks Deluxe Building Bag
Build her towers to the skies with this massive collection of 150 Mega Bloks! These chunky blocks are perfect for little builders: easy to hold, simple to click together, and safe for toddler play. They all come in a zippered bag that's big enough to store these blocks, plus more as her collection grows. For a small introductory set with 80 blocks, check out the Mega Bloks First Builders Bag.
LEGO Education DUPLO Creative Brick Set
Let toddlers and preschoolers get creative with this box of DUPLO blocks that are perfectly sized to be safe and easy to hold for little hands! This set of 160 blocks in bright colors includes a number of different shapes, including elements with printed eyes, encouraging kids to use their imaginations as they build. A set of 6 double-sided activity cards provides inspiration and ideas when necessary, but you'll be amazed what they build on their own!
Fantasia Blocks Train
This colorful toys combines the fun of block building and train play! These maple blocks and train cars are finished with bright colors and patterns that will let their imagination run wild. The cars can be linked together or separated for even more flexible play. Parents will appreciate that the non-toxic paints are super durable, refusing to chip or peel even with rough play, but kids will just see hours of fun in their future!
Little Tikes Big Waffle Blocks
It's easy to build big ideas with the Little Tikes Waffle Blocks! Eighteen blocks slot together in ways that encourage creative building. The 14 by 14 inch pieces are durable enough to hold up to plenty of serious play, and a variety of cut-outs encourage kids to experiment with different possibilities. Plus, the durable plastic pieces allow her to use them indoors or outdoors, providing plenty of fodder for imaginative play.
Most wooden blocks feature the A, B, Cs — but why not Au, Be, and Cu? This beautiful set of solid-wood blocks from Uncle Goose features all the elements of the periodic table, complete with symbol, name, and atomic number These ethically-made and eco-friendly blocks would be a hit with an adult chemistry fan, too!
Celebrate the beauty of the night sky with this set of heirloom-quality blocks from Uncle Goose! Sixteen wood blocks come imprinted with constellations, with and without lines, as well as other interesting facts like the constellation symbol, order of magnitude, and more — and like all Uncle Goose products, they're made in the US with renewable Michigan basswood. This set is perfect for budding astronomers! For another astronomy-themed set from the same company, check out these Planet Building Blocks.
Build and Store Block and Activity Table
A dedicated builder doesn't just need building supplies: they need a space to work on their projects! This activity table comes with two base plates, compatible with DUPLO, LEGO, and Mega Bloks, that snap onto the surface, as well as with multiple storage bins and cubbies. Kids can build to their heart's content, knowing their creations won't have to get swept away before they're finished. Or, when craft time rolls around, take off the base plates and draw, paint, and color to your heart's content on the easily washable surface.
Why not use block building fun to help kids develop emotional awareness? In this set of DUPLO blocks, which are perfectly sized for preschoolers, eight different faces show varying emotions. Kids can build figures that match the expressions out of the blocks, then imagine a pretend-play scenario that got their character feeling that way! The clear expressions make it easy for kids to decipher what each face is feeling, making this a fun way to work some lessons on empathy into your brick box.
For all the kids who gaze longingly at older kids' K'Nex toys, now there are Kid K'Nex designed for small hands and younger minds! The chunky soft pieces are easy for younger kids to use, and the 1:1 scale idea cards make it easier for them to duplicate the end result. This set includes fun eye and ear/wing piece to allow kids to make all kinds of crazy creatures; ideas for eight creatures are included and the rest are up to their imagination! For a fun 375-piece set for older kids, ages 7 and up, check out the K'Nex Deluxe Building Set.
Simple shapes provide plenty of fodder for the information with classic standard unit blocks! This set of 60 hardwood blocks includes planes, columns, arches, and more, all of which fit into the included crate. Because blocks are all based on multiples or fractions of the standard unit, kids start to learn concepts about parts and wholes as they build their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination — but all they know is that these blocks make it really fun to build a tower, city, bridge, and more!
One of the first things most kids want to build with their blocks is a castle, so why not foster that imaginative play with a castle-themed block set? These beautiful blocks from Treehaus include printed features like arched windows and roof shingles carved details like turrets and archways, perfect for sparking the imagination. 60 durable wood blocks come with this set, perfect for building a dramatic castle setting for your next adventure.
If you remember loving Tinkertoys as a kid, you’ll be happy to hear that they’re back and better than ever! The new Tinkertoys include redesigned versions of all the rods, spools, connectors, and other pieces you experimented with as a kid. The new plastic rods are slightly flexible, allowing kids to try structures that weren’t possible with the rigid wood rods of the previous version. Best of all, the new set is compatible with older wood Tinkertoys so you can expand your childhood set as you pass it on to a new generation! This Super Building set comes with 200 pieces and instructions to build 30 different models.
For another twist on block building, check out this unique building set! These precision cut pine planks are all the same size, which allows them to stack with surprising stability — no glue or connectors required! This set includes 200 of the planks, which provides a great foundation for your building, but since all Keva planks are identical, you can easily expand your building by getting additional sets. Because the planks don't lock together, kids will develop a better understanding of gravity and balance as they build.
If you've ever tried to create a LEGO project of your own, you know how quickly you seem to run out of the basic bricks — there never seem to be enough 2X4, 2X2, and 1X2 blocks! This set will fix that with a great selection of 1,000 basic bricks. This massive set will have kids will stretching their imaginations to create the projects they see on the enclosed activity cards or to build inventions of their design!
Marble runs are another popular building toy; kids everywhere love the challenge of creating their own marble race track. But this set incorporates something new into marble run building: music! The Quadrilla Music Motion Marble Railway includes strategically-placed chimes in some of the runs and blocks; as the marble rolls, it sounds the chimes. Create a crazy sonic effect, or see if you can put the set together to play a tune as the marble makes its way from the top to the bottom!
The beauty of LEGO is in its flexibility, which encourages creativity in young builders — and there's no better way to inspire than to give kids a big selection of bricks of all shapes, sizes, and colors! This big box of bricks includes 790 classic LEGO bricks in 33 different colors, including fun unique pieces like wheels, windows, dpprs, and more. It's a great way to stock your brick box with plenty of materials to get creative juices flowing. For a smaller set with 484 pieces, check out the Lego Classic Medium Creative Bricks Box.
Build a whole community with this massive, 1,907-piece set from LEGO Education! Kids can use the blocks in this set to create a wide variety of community locations, including a zoo, a theme park, a restaurant, and more. Plenty of minifigures are includes to inhabit your community, and the included elements even let you build a few animals for your town. Up to six kids can work at once with this set, making it the perfect choice for classrooms or larger families of builders.
Join Moana on her adventure with this 205-piece building set from LEGO! Once Moana steps into the cave, plays the drums, and connects with the story of her ancestors, her journey towards becoming a wayfinder has truly begun. Play out your favorite scene from the movie, or just imagine Moana's life in her island home with Pua by her side. For another great LEGO set featuring Moana, check out the LEGO Moana’s Ocean Voyage set, and for more products featuring this popular character, visit our Moana Collection.
This fun marble run kit may be a classic, but be careful — it's trickier than it looks! Stack and balance the blocks in a variety of ways to create tunnels, tracks, and drops for your marble to travel through. Kids will have to think creatively and plan ahead to get the longest and wildest run for their marbles to roll. The hardwood construction of this set makes it stand out, and parents will love that it's made in the USA and carefully quality checked, but kids will just enjoy the flexibility and challenge it provides.
With this 174-piece set, you get three building projects in one! Build a mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex, complete with the rib cage of its (former) prey. Then, rebuild to create a Triceratops or a Pterodactyl. Uniquely shaped and colored pieces make this a great addition to your LEGO bin. For more exciting building kits, visit our LEGO Collection.
LEGO Creator Robot Explorer
Build three different fun robot designs with this 203-piece set! Start out by building the Robo Explorer, complete with bright green eyes, working tracks, rotating body and head, and posable arms. Then, take it apart and try making the Robo Dog and Robo Bird. The set even includes a light-up brick element for fun glowing effects! For more exciting building kits, visit our LEGO Collection.
LEGO Creator: Treehouse Adventures
Take LEGO to the trees with this 3-in-1 set from the LEGO Creator series! These sets provide intriguing new building options and fun accessory pieces, including one female and one male minifig characters, can really let imaginations soar. This 387-piece set allows kids to build a treehouse with a working pulley, a cool clubhouse, or a tree fort. There's plenty of building fun and pretend-play potential in this box!
Speed into action on Rey's Speeder! This 193-piece LEGO set lets fans build this cool landspeeder with everything Rey needs for scouting the surface of a desert planet, including dual stud shooters, opening storage hatch and side-mounted bag, blaster, buzzsaw and electrobinoculars. There's also a detachable sled with space for a minifigure when she must make a quick escape down the desert dunes! For more toys featuring the latest Star Wars hero, visit our Rey Collection.
Get ready to head up, up, and away with this amazing set from Lego's Education line. With this 1,176 piece set, you can build space shuttles, jet places, satellites, and helicopters — and, equally importantly, the support buildings that they need for their flights. An equal mix of male and female heads provides terrific representation of women in all the careers depicted here, from astronaut to air traffic controller. And for easy storage, the set comes in a container with a transparent lid.
K'Nex have encouraged budding builders for years! This set includes all the elements that people have loved about K’Nex for more than two decades. This starter set includes 375 pieces and guidelines for building 30 different models from elephants to helicopters — or, of course, you can just let your imagination run wild. And, when the building's done, everything packs away into the included storage tub.
LEGO Minecraft: The Nether Fortress
There's no better pairing than LEGO and Minecraft for tons of building fun! In this set, you'll light the obsidian portal and venture into the mysterious Nether in search of rare components. Join Alex as she tackles Zombie Pigmen, a Blaze, and a Ghast on her quest. Just make sure you don't end up in a lava flow! The light-up and glow-in-the-dark elements in this set add extra excitement to this spectacular set.
K'Nex Education Swing Ride Building Set
K'Nex take a trip to the fairground with this set! Kids can use the K'Nex pieces in this box to build three fair rides — a swing ride, a Ferris wheel, and a boom ride — that actually move. The included instruction manual doesn't just teach kids how to build the models: it also explains the physical principles that govern the way these machines work. This set is perfect for home use, but it can also be used in classrooms, so up to three kids can work together on these fun projects.
When LEGO and Ghostbusters come together, you know who to call! Mayhem is trying to get away, so Abby, Patty, Holtzmann, and Erin have to hop in the Ecto-1 -- which has a removable roof and seats for all four Ghostbusters -- and get there fast. Kevin will even join them on the Ecto-2 motorbike! This 556-piece set includes minifigures of the Ghostbusters, Kevin, and a Mayhem figure for hours of building and roleplaying fun. For more products featuring these popular characters, visit our Ghostbusters Collection.
LEGO Ideas Maze Building Kit
Fans of classical mazes will be intrigued by this LEGO version that they can change up to make as difficult as they please! This 769-piece set creates two different styles of mazes, a classical one or a Medieval-themed one. Create your own challenges using the tips provided by the set's creator, and then take it with you to challenge others — thanks to a removable ball container and a travel lock.
Build the loveable BB-8 droid with this awesome 1,106-piece set from LEGO! This incredibly detailed model will challenge your building skills, with its rotating head, opening access hatch, and extendable welding torch. The set includes a desk stand, a plaque, and a small BB-8 figure, perfect for LEGO and Star Wars fans alike. For more products featuring BB-8 and other characters from the new Star Wars trilogy, visit our Rey Collection.
Build a tribute to some of the ground-breaking women who took American into space with this much-anticipated set from LEGO Ideas! This fan-designed set features astronomer Nancy Grace Roman; computer scientist Margaret Hamilton; astronaut and physicist Sally Ride; and astronaut, physician and engineer Mae Jemison, each as part of a vignette depicting their role with NASA. It's a wonderful way to inspire the women in STEM of future generations!
Get inspired by New York City's architectural heritage with this beautiful set! 598 pieces allow you to replicate the Flatiron Building, the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, and the Statue of Liberty, all on a tiled based with a decorative "New York City" nameplate. The included booklet includes interesting facts about New York's history and architecture. It's perfect for budding architects and builders!
Enjoy a building challenge — and a tribute to NASA's Moon missions — with this massive, three-foot LEGO model of the NASA Apollo Saturn V rocket! At 1,969 pieces, this set provides a fun building challenge packed with authentic details: it features 3 removable rocket stages, including the S-IVB third stage with the lunar lander and lunar orbiter. With The set includes 3 stands to display the model horizontally, 3 new astronaut micro figures for role-play recreations of the Moon landings, and a booklet about the manned Apollo missions.
The Ferris Wheel was (and is) a mechanical marvel, and now it can challenge the most advanced LEGO builders too! This massive 2,464-piece set allows you to build a nearly 2 foot tall Ferris Wheel. Turn a crank to get the wheel to move, or combine it with the LEGO power functions motor and battery box to get it moving with electric power. It's a stunning set that's perfect for the LEGO fanatic on your list.
Give her a major building challenges with this massive 2,670 piece set from the LEGO Creator line! This carousel has a finished size of 12 inches high and 14 inches wide, and includes amazing details like a large textile canopy and 4 buildable animal rides, four of which move. Turn the crank to watch your carousel turn, or add the LEGO Functions motor and battery box to make it come to life on its own!
New Construction: Magnets, Wedges, Flakes, and More!
The classics are classics for a reason, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also enjoy some unique and different building toy concepts! These toys take building in new and interesting directions, whether they’re providing new materials for creative building play or replicating real-life building.
Build A Bouquet Floral Arrangement Playset
Instead of building a tower, why not build a floral arrangement? This unique building set from Green Toys provides 44 vibrantly colored pieces that you can use to build your very own flowers! Stack the flower components on the stems and play with color, size, and shape, until it looks just right. And like all Green Toys products, you’ll feel good knowing they’re made of 100% post-consumer recycled plastic with no BPA or phthalates.
Budding mechanics might prefer to build a plane! Battat’s Take Apart Airplane comes with 21 vehicle parts and a power “screwdriver” with three different bits. Kids will love getting to build a real toy and pulling it apart so they can do it all over again! As they learn the process, they’ll also develop their ability to plan out an efficient building process — just like a real mechanic does. Kids who like this set can also get Battat's Take Apart Crane.
She can fix and build anything with this 72-piece wood toolbox set from Hape! Classic hand tools like a vice, wrench, and screwdriver are included, plus a build-on toolbox and enough screws and wood pieces to make some of her own creations. This toy is great for inspiring a love of STEM and for building skills like fine motor coordination, problem-solving, and planning, and parents will love the durable and child-safe construction and finishes. For added fun, the set even converts into a robot! For a large-scale version, check out the Master Workbench Play Set.
If your kids love music, why not let them build their own wacky musical instrument? This set from Quercetti allows you to assemble your very own instrument out of ABS plastic parts. The set includes two mouthpieces and two trumpet-style bells, so you can even make a pair of instruments to play with a friend. By joining the variously shaped pieces, you can make an instrument like nothing the world has ever seen — and find out what it sounds like when you play it!
Combine power tools and bright colors with this set from Educational Insights! Kids can follow one of the 20 included pattern cards or come up with their own patterns. With 120 bolts in 5 colors, they've got plenty of inspiration in the box. Three different bits fit both the screwdriver and the drill, and then the included wrench helps them get all the pieces out to start all over again.
To encourage your future carpenter or contractor, check out this set from Step2. Realistic “wood” foam building pieces can be assembled with screws and nuts to build projects, then disassembled for more play later. The work bench is modeled after real carpentry benches, so she’ll feel like she’s using the real thing! And for even more realistic tools to use with the work bench, add Kidoozie's Little Builder Tool Belt (age 1 - 5) for play tools that look just like the real thing!
Who says blocks need to be square? Wedgits are a series of progressively-sized interlocking shapes that nest, stack, and wedge together for a wide variety of fascinating building possibilities! Because of their unique shapes, Wedgits allow kids to build everything from futuristic towers to mechanically-levered creatures — yes, you can build a frog that really hops! The deluxe set comes with 30 pieces, plus clear plastic storage stands and a booklet to prompt some creative building ideas.
Kids can have fun and learn math basics with this fun kit full of colorful caterpillar pieces! This set from ECR4Kids includes 160 colorful pieces that snap together to create caterpillars — or whatever your kids' imagination suggests. Sort by color or shape or craft patterns while practicing planning and construction skills. The whole set comes in a clear plastic bin with a carrying handle, perfect for use at home or in the classroom.
With these clever gears, you can build 3D creations that you can then set spinning! Because all the gears are the same size, it's easy to put together the interlocking bases, the connectors, and the gears themselves. Then, attach a crank and see what happens when you turn it! Kids who enjoy this set can also check out themed ones like Movin' Monkeys and Wacky Wigglers, but for free building play, it's hard to beat the 150 pieces in this Super Set.
These building toys are fun little suckers! These flexible, suction-cup-tipped building components are easy to squish together and pop apart; they also stick solidly to most flat surfaces, including tabletops, windows, and even the bathtub. Because they're bendy, kids can experiment with shape easily as they build vehicles, robots, jewelry, and more. This deluxe set includes 50 Squigz to get you started. For the littlest builders, you can get pipSquigz for age 6 months to 2 years, a set of three large, textured Squigz toys that are good for building but also make a great teething toy.
Explore a new way to create a marble run with these magnetic foam pieces you can set up on a fridge door or magnetic board! Kids can create their own run or duplicate one of the designs on the activity boards, but that's not all: because the magnetic pieces can be adjusted in all sorts of ways, they'll get to explore problem solving and engineering by manipulating the height and angle of the pieces to see what makes the marble speed up, slow down, or change direction. Plus, storage is simple, with flat pieces that tuck away neatly.
You can create a beautiful spinning flower garden with this Gears! Gears! Gears! set from Learning Resources! In addition to the colorful gears, kids have flowers, stems, and even insect components like butterflies, bees, and ladybugs. Slot the gears together and turn the handle to watch your creation spin -- then pull them apart and build something new! You can even combine the set with other Gears! Gears! Gears! sets for plenty of flexible fun.
Magna Tiles are another magnetic building toy that provides great play potential. These solid tiles are great for simulating bricks, windows, and plating on the outside of vehicles. They’re great for playing with pattern and shape, either in two or three dimensions This 32-piece set with clear colors will get you started, or you can get the 100-piece Clear Colors Magna Tiles Set, which includes a variety of sizes and shapes of tiles, including large and small squares and isoceles, equilateral, and right-angle triangles, all in a translucent plastic that's sure to spark the imagination.
There are so many possibilities in these clever little flakes! Brain Flakes discs can click together in a wide variety of angles, so you can build up, sideways, and out. They're easy to put together or separate, so even kids who are just developing fine motor skills can get in on the fun! This set includes 500 flakes that come in a variety of bright, fun colors, all in a reusable storage jar.
Building can get more intriguing with the addition of magnets, which allow you to create complex 3D shapes with ease. These plastic shapes with enclosed magnets on the edges allow you to build flat shapes or three-dimensional structures. Because the magnets always attract, they’re never frustrating for kids to use, and they’ll be intrigued at how they can “stick” the components together. This is a great base kit to begin your collection, and includes a selection of triangles, squares, and pentagons for diverse building potential; for even more options, the Magformers 144-piece set includes rectangles, hexagons, and other shapes.
HearthSong's best-selling Connectagons building toy gets an update with striking new patterns and colors that can be combined into ultra-artistic constructions. This deluxe set includes 240 varying geometric shapes in solid colors, plus 240 of these new colorful circular Connectagons. Since you can put them together in so many different ways, kids' imaginations can really take flight
Enjoy a terrific combination of open-ended building and eco-friendly manufacture with this set from YOXO Toys! These links and tubes combine to create all sorts of vehicles, creatures, and more. This set includes 112 colorful links and 8 tubes, plus a sheet of fun eye stickers. Parents will love that all YOXO toys are 100% recycled and recyclable; they're even made in the USA in a wind-powered factory.
This 80-piece set is the perfect way to introduce kids to woodworking! Unlike in other woodworking sets for kids, there are no pre-drilled holes, meaning kids will really master nailing skills when the build the projects in this kit. Smooth pine pieces in a variety of shapes allow you to complete a wide selection of projects, and the set also includes a lightweight hammer, nails, and a storage box.
What is crafting but a form of building play? With this kit that combines model building with arts and crafts, kids can build several models that do fun things, like a spring car that really moves and an Extend-o-Flower that's built to bloom! The guide includes plans for a variety of creations, as well as a poster you can use to celebrate everything you've built. The mix of GoldieBlox construction pieces and craft supplies like pipe cleaners, string, and patterned paper is sure to get the creative juices flowing.
This is a new take on the traditional marble run! Q-Ba-Maze blocks can be interlocked in incredibly complex shapes — instead of lines and curves, think diamonds, pyramids, and even animals! Since many blocks offer multiple exit points, the paths are more unpredictable too, meaning every run is exciting. This big box of Q-Ba-Maze blocks includes 72 cubes in five different colors, as well as 20 steel balls. Combine as many sets as you want for truly spectacular results!
Encourage your budding do-it-yourselfer with this high quality 31-piece tool set! These tools are made with slender handles to be more comfortable in smaller hands, but they're just as tough as regular tools. The set includes a hammer, a wrench, a level, a multi-bit magnetic driver, and more, all tucked in a handy 18 pocket tool bag for easy storage. Add a tool belt and she'll have everything she needs to tackle projects of her own!
Making It Work: Engineering Toys
For some young builders,the most exciting part of building is making something that really functions! From learning about engineering principles, to creating electrical circuits, to building and coding robots, these kits will get kids into the engineering and design that goes into the technology we use every day.
Robot Engineer Kit
Learn the basics of robotic engineering with this kit from Thames and Kosmos' Kids First line! As they read a book about inquisitive kids Ty and Karlie visiting an automated candy factory, kids build non-motorized models of the ten robots in the story, learning about concepts like gear trains and simple machines. Large pieces make it easy for preschoolers to build all by themselves — and to experiment on their own when the story is done.
This is an invention kit for everyone! Using the pieces in the MaKey MaKey set, nearly any ordinary object can become an input device for your computer. As long as the item you pick is mildly conductive, you can make it work with any program — so you can type a letter using an alphabet soup keyboard, or play a song on a keyboard made out of bananas! This creative and inspiring kit can be used by kids as young as three with adult assistance; older kids can let their imaginations run wild on their own.
Imagine getting to build your very own amusement park! This kit lets kids do just that. By following along with the illustrated storybook, kids use the 97 pieces to build amusement park attractions, including a roller coaster and a Ferris wheel, and learn how they work along the way. You can build 20 models with this kit, or experiment with the pieces to see what other rides you can come up with! Fans of this kit can also get an Automobile Engineer kit to build 10 different vehicles.
Kids can turn their own muscle power into electric light with this hand-cranked dynamo kit from Tenergy! This clever kit requires no tools to build, so kids can assemble their lantern all on their own. As they build, they'll learn how electric generators work and learn fun facts about power generation. Then, they can rebuild the lantern as a barn or water lantern, or discover how changing the way they crank the handle affect the color of the LED light. It's a fun way to learn more about how we make artificial light.
Explore engineering and design with this kit from Learning Resources! As kids work with the 100 easy to assemble building pieces and the included activity cards, they'll learn to complete engineering challenges, building their problem-solving skills and their understanding of key principles of design and architecture. Fans of this set can also check out the Tree House Engineering and Design Set and the Skate Park Engineering and Design Set.
Build incredible chain reactions of wacky machines with this kit from Klutz and LEGO! The idea book includes directions for ten LEGO machines that can turn, pivot, drop, and more... put them together and you can create a truly impressive series. 33 unique LEGO elements are included; the only other thing you need is standard LEGO elements — and a little ingenuity! Along the way, kids will learn about simple machines and some of the basic scientific principles that power the gear we use every day.
For a truly unique building experience, she can design structures and furniture with real electrical parts with the Roominate sets! The Chateau includes 131 pieces for creating your dream house: build structures and furniture, then add working lights, fans, carousels, and other battery-powered machines. Use it alone, or combine it with more sets for tremendous building possibilities! Roominate was designed by two female engineers and is designed to inspire kids to think about technology and innovation.
Engino Inventor Pro
Play to invent with this impressive set that lets you build 80 different models! The large, elaborate models you build with this 277 piece kit actually move: kids will learn how to incorporate the dual output motor and wired remote control to bring their creations to life. Models increase in complexity, so kids can start simple and build up to great things — from cranes and motorcycles to a walking T-Rex!
Even objects that don't move require a lot of engineering know-how! In this set from K'Nex Education, kids learn about seven different bridge types and the physical forces — like tension, load, force stress, and more — that affect whether a bridge can hold up to the weight it carries. By building these model bridges and testing how they work, kids will get a new appreciation to the engineering behind the infrastructure we take for granted.
Get ready to explore structural engineering with this kit from Thames and Kosmos! As kids build twenty different models with the modular building pieces, they'll learn key principles like tension, compression, shear, and bending. The projects teach kids about trusses, columns, arches, and more ways that structural engineers build our cities to be strong and safe. It’s a fascinating way for budding architects and engineers to learn the science behind the structures we use every day.
Snap Circuits: Alternative Energy
One of the great challenges of this century will be developing alternative energy sources, and this kit teaches kids about some of the most common ones! Using the guide for this kit, kids will learn about solar power, hydroelectric power, windmills, geothermal energy, and more. Then, they'll learn how batteries can store that power to be used in the future. Use this kit alone, or combine it with other Snap Circuits kits to power your own projects!
With this set, you can design circuits as easily as you can doodle! Circuit Scribe uses a pen with conductive ink, so you can draw out your circuits, either to prototype or to create unique effects. This kit includes the pen as well as some of the most common components, like LEDs, transistors, and capacitors, and a workbook full of projects that's sure to inspire her to come up with her own creative ideas.
Create your own custom Droid — and learn a little about inventing and prototyping — with this Star Wars Droid Inventor kit from littleBits! With the free Droid Inventor app, kids will give their R2 unit some new abilities over 16 missions. Then, they can use the easy littleBits components to experiment with their own inventions! The modular parts snap together easily with no glue or soldering, perfect for quick and easy inventing and problem-solving. This set is compatible with all other littleBits sets, so the only limit is your imagination.
The innovative Snap Circuits sets allow kids to explore electronics with easy, snap-together modular components — no soldering or glue required! With this kit, kids can explore how fiber optics, LEDs, and other light sources work to make light a key — and often underappreciated — part of technology. The 55 pieces can create 182 projects, or you can add the pieces of this kit to other Snap Circuits sets for endless possibilities. For a similar set that explores sound and recording, check out Snap Circuits: Sound, also for age 8 and up.
Super Solar Recycler Robot
Explore both solar power and the potential in recycling trash with this fun kit, which shows kids how they can turn plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and old CDs into solar powered robots! Kids will make fun projects like a street roller, a walking robot, or a flying bird. This eco-friendly kit gets kids thinking about how they can limit waste and reuse valuable materials.
The true power of electricity is what it can do, and this kit explores how electric power can make things move. Kids will power things like pulleys, fans, and motion detectors, as well as building cool models like a propeller plane and a robotic crawler. Because the modular pieces snap together and apart easily, kids can easily reconfigure things if they haven't got them quite right. It's the perfect kit for a budding electrical engineer.
With this kit from Tenergy, kids can learn more about a variety of alternative energies that can power a miniature car! Geo is a small robotic car that can draw power from sunlight or salt water. Kids get to build the car, then experiment with different power sources to see which give them the best results. Since no screws or tools are required, kids can easily build it on their own. It's a great way to get hands on with clean energy!
Snap Circuits 3D Illumination
Snap Circuits will drive you up the walls with these new 3D kits! New Snap Modules allow you to go vertical with Snap Circuits pieces, allowing you to work in multiple dimensions rather than just on a flat board. The 3D Illumination kit allows kids to explore electricity and light with their Snap Boards in a variety of different configurations. Directions for over 150 projects are included, or let your imagination run wild!
Wind powered generators have surprising potential — an old technology turned new! With this set, kids will experiment with two different wind turbine blades and a gearbox with three different gear ratios to determine how they can get the most power to charge their rechargeable batteries. Then, use those batteries to power the models you build, including a car, 3-wheeler, and helicopter. It's a fun way to explore the possibilities of this free source of renewable energy.
Fans of Snap Circuits will be over the moon at this enormous kit! All the parts you need for over 750 different projects are included; you'll build a sound activated switch, a lie detector, and adjustable light controller, and more. 80 color-coded pieces make it easy to assemble the projects by following the detailed manual, or to work out your own ideas. It even includes a computer interface so you can view waveforms and frequencies, just like a real electronics engineer.
Older kids are ready for a more sophisticated understanding of the simple machines that are the foundation of nearly every piece of technology. In the Levers and Pulleys kit from K'Nex, kids will learn about 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class levers, as well as fixed, movable, and combination pulley systems. Eight different models show a variety of applications of these principals. Add the Gears and Wheels, Axles, and Inclined Planes sets to complete the picture.
As Curiosity and other rovers and satellites have shown, the future of space exploration is sure to involve plenty of robots! With this engineering set, kids will get an idea what it's like to build a machine designed to explore hostile terrain on new planets. Build a model rover, a space shuttle with working bay doors, a crosswing flyer, and more. Kids will particularly enjoy directing their rover over local terrain while imagining directing a robot a planet away in the future. For would-be astronauts or budding space explorers, it's sure to be a favorite.
You can create touch-activated inventions that control your stuff with this fun and inspiring set from littleBits Electronics! Step-by-step instructions for 8 projects are included — including a Burgler Buzzler, a Top-Secret Safe, and more — but once you've tried those, you can experiment with your own ideas without having to solder or glue. Plus, all littleBits components are compatible with one another, so you can build just about anything you imagine.
The Gizmos and Gadgets Kit is the ultimate invention toolbox. Motors, wheels, lights, switches, servos, buzzers, even a remote control -- snap it all together to spark creativity and fun. Want to invent a remote control racecar? Do it. Create an automatic bubble blowing device? Go for it! This new and improved second generation kit comes with 16 electronic building blocks, detailed instructions for a variety of projects, and all the accessories and tools you need to unleash the inventor within and create countless inventions of your own design!
Explore renewable energy with this set from K'Nex Education! 583 pieces allow kids to build multiple models that teach them out we can generate electrical power from wind, water, and solar energy. The step-by-step instruction manual encourages kids to develop STEM skills, promotes teamwork and cooperation, and shows them the importance of eco-friendly energy!
LEGO Mindstorms EV3
Combining the versatility of the LEGO building system with the most advanced technology we've ever developed, the new LEGO Mindstorms EV3 set allows you to create and command robots that walk, talk, think and do anything you can imagine. Follow the building instructions to create TRACK3R, R3PTAR, SPIK3R, EV3RSTORM and GRIPP3R, or make your own creation, and bring them to life with an easy, intuitive and icon-based programming interface.