A Mighty Girl's top picks of the books, pretend play toys, and tool sets to encourage Mighty Girl builders!
Whether you're putting together a bookshelf, wiring a light switch, or swapping a kitchen faucet, there's tremendous satisfaction in building something yourself! However, when you picture a carpentry hobbyist or a construction worker, chances are good the person you picture is male. Girls and women have often been discouraged from picking up tools, whether they're interested in trying some basic home repairs or considering a skilled trade as a career. As a result, the percentage of women in skilled trades jobs has been under 9% nationwide for decades. However, with the rise in popularity of DIY, girls are increasingly discovering that they can design, build, and fix things on their own!
If you'd like to encourage your Mighty Girl to see herself as a potential builder, we've got some great ways to help! In this blog post, we've shared books that give her role models of girls and women who love to build, and toys that encourage young girls to imagine themselves as builders. We've also featured several sets of child-sized tools and easy-to-use beginner kits to get her started on real-life building projects. Whether you want to give her confidence doing home repairs or to support her in a possible career, these options will help ensure she knows that she can build it!
Mighty Girl Books for Budding Builders
This little girl and her family are moving from the city — to build a new one in the country! Mom and Dad have rented a trailer for them to live in while they build the house from the ground up. There are many steps and stages along the way, and lots of ways that she can help. And when the house is done, the family can be proud of what they built together. This book based on author Jonathan Bean's family's real experience, told through the eyes of his older sister, and includes an afterword with photos of the construction process.
When skid steer Kid McGear shows up to join the Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site team, the big trucks question whether she's up to the task, and tell her to stay out of the way. Kid knows her value, though, and when Bulldozer and Excavator find themselves trapped at the bottom of a steep hill, she's quick to find a solution (and run the rescue effort.) By the time she's done, the team of trucks is one truck bigger — because when you work as a team, you're more than the sum of your parts! Mighty Girl construction fans will delight as Kid McGear shows that she belongs on the site.
A mother-daughter pair are each preparing for their biggest challenge yet. For the daughter, it's an attempt to prove herself on the pitcher's mound. For the mother, it's executing a big bricklaying job. Both face obstacles, including gender stereotypes and the hard work necessary to achieve your goals. But when they're done, they get to celebrate their victories together! With its simple, direct text and absorbing illustrations, this book celebrates all the things that girls and women can do — and how much more we can do with the support of the people we love.
Sharonda and her mother live in a room in her aunt's house, and everything is getting a bit crowded. Then, their church announces a special gift: they are going to build Sharonda's family a house of their own. As Sharonda watches in amazement, people come together to hammer, saw, measure, and lift. When they're done, there is a house — and when Sharonda moves in, it becomes a home to treasure. Full of energy and life, this book is a celebration of cooperation, generosity, and the joy of building a space that makes a difference.
Meg loves building with boxes, and she always stuns both her peers and adults with what she makes. But then a new kid shows up at Maker School. Simone is a boxitect too — a good one — and it's not long before the two have become fierce rivals. Then the worst happens: the two are paired as a team for the annual Maker Match. Rather than work together, they each take half the materials and build one half of their creation... a plan that ends in disaster. But when they sit down and find a way to combine their talents, it turns out there's nothing they can't do! This funny and realistic story about two girls who realize that they can make amazing things when they work together is sure to inspire a little "boxitecture" in young readers!
Fans of the book Rosie Revere, Engineer will love this fun project book that encourages kids to put their inventiveness and perseverance into practice! In this activity book, there are 40+ things for kids to invent, draw, and make, including designing a better bicycle, building a simple catapult, constructing a solar oven, and more. A simple explanation of the engineering design process, from identifying the problem that needs solving to evaluating whether or not your creation was a success, show kids that invention is rarely a straightforward process, and positive text encourages the owner of the book to see herself like Rosie: inventive and bold!
It takes a lot of people to build a house! Author/illustrator Gail Gibbons introduces kids to all the steps of house construction, and all the professions involved, in this unique picture book. She shows how each trade, from architects to plumbers to carpenters to landscapers — each representing both women and men — does their part. And when they're done, a new family can move in, ready to turn the empty house into a home they love! Young would-be builders will be fascinated to see how workers cooperate to create something special out of an empty lot.
Ellie prides herself on her engineering skills, and loves inventing things in her backyard workshop. So when her best friend Kit's birthday approaches, she's determined to make something — and when she hears Kit's mom saying they're getting her a dog, she knows just what to build: a doghouse. But her plans get more and more elaborate, and soon she's got to enlist help from other kids in the neighborhood — kids who don't always get along. Can she create the doghouse of Kit's dreams and still keep it a secret? This exuberant story includes fun backmatter, including a how-toguide to tools, that will delight would-be engineers.
Lou feels squashed and smothered in her grandmother's house, where she shares a room with her mom, so the woodshop-loving girl comes up with a solution: this summer, she's going to build a "tiny house,", which she can put on land she inherited from her dad when he died before she was born. But building a house is tricky (even when it's tiny) and worse, the land might have to be sold to pay off back taxes and fund a move. Fortunately, both Lou's devoted friends and her loving Filipino family are there to help her achieve her dream... even if it doesn't look quite like she imagined. Full of details about Filipino life and culture, this warm story celebrates the true meaning of home and family.
Inspire her dreams of creation with this book featuring biographies of 22 groundbreaking architects, engineers, and landscape designers! Each capsule biography describes that woman's strengths and passions as a child, as well as the challenges they faced as they established themselves in their careers. Intriguing sidebars explore related topics, as well as the landmark events that affected each figure, including the industrial revolution, the women's suffrage movement, and the civil rights movement. This entry in the Women of Action series will fascinate budding engineers!
Pretend Play Building and Construction Toys
Pour out your toolbox and see what's inside with this fill and spill toy from Melissa & Doug! This 9-piece set features a fabric and plastic "toolbox" with a see-through side so kids can peek at all its contents. Inside, there are soft tools including a saw, a hammer, a screwdriver, and a vibrating drill with pull-cord, plus two soft corduroy-covered blocks with holes to fit the soft nail and screw. Kids will love playing pretend with this high-quality set that offers hours of spilling, filling, and building fun.
Whether using the hammer to pound in the nails, or the Phillips and flathead screwdrivers to tighten the bolts, kids love all the do-it-yourself projects that are possible with this set from Green Toys! This 15-piece toolbox play set is made from 100% recycled plastic and manufactured in the USA. Holes on each side of the toolbox fit the nails, bolts, and 2-hole connectors, so kids can build fine motor skills as they practice real-life DIY skills. When playtime's done, organize all your tools in the box, just like a real carpenter!
If you're going to do some DIY work around the house, you need a good toolbelt! This playset from Fisher-Price has everything she needs to imagine herself as a carpenter, contractor, or DIY-er. The fabric tool belt can hold all of her tools, which include a hammer, screwdriver, saw, and measuring tape. The saw makes sounds as it "cuts" and the measuring tape really pulls out and retracts! There's even a fabric doughnut for a snack when the job is done.
Even kids love to use power tools! With the Take Apart Airplane from Battat, kids can assemble and disassemble a colorful plane with a power drill that comes with three different bits. With practice, they'll learn how to optimize their work, practicing their fine motor skills and concentration. It's the perfect toy for any child who dreams of building a real plane someday! For another Take Apart set, check out this Take Apart Crane.
Calling all budding carpenters! The Master Workbench play set includes all the tools your would-be builder needs: hammer, saw, screwdriver, wrench, vice, angle, screws, nuts, bolts, gears, links and more. The bench is even height-adjustable so it can grow along with her. Plus, kids will love the bright, cheerful colors. For some extra fun, add Hape's Kids' Wooden Tool Box Set which includes more screws and wood pieces to add to your building play.
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.
She's ready to supervise the work site in this play set from Melissa & Doug! This set includes a kid-sized decorative hard hat and a work zone vest complete with reflective tape, real pockets, and a customizable name tag. Add your tool belt with the toy hammer and toy saw so you're ready to work — and don't forget your safety goggles! This set is perfect for any budding builder.
Encourage busy hands to learn to build with a Step2's Real Projects Workshop. This great activity bench includes a conveniently-sized work bench, realistic "wood" foam building pieces, and tools to assemble them. The pieces assemble easily with interlocking notches and holes to add screws and nuts, while the work bench is modeled after real carpentry benches, so she’ll feel like she’s using the real thing. It's the perfect way to encourage your future Ms. Fix-It!
Real-Life Tool Sets and Building Kits
This is a real tool set that's perfect for budding builders! This tool set from Stanley Jr. looks and feels just like Mom or Dad's tools — and they're build to last like them, too. The only difference is that they're scaled down to fit a child's hands. Included are a hammer, No. 1 and No. 2 Phillips screwdrivers, a tape measure, and safety goggles. And to give her an easy first building project, check out the Stanley Jr. Toolbox Building Kit.
Build and paint your own bird house to entice birds to your yard with this set from Toysmith! This all-in-one kit includes everything you need to complete and decorate a sweet 7" bird house, including pre-cut wood pieces with holes and pegs so they attach with just glue — no hardware required — as well as six paints, a brush, and a rope for hanging. It's a terrific rainy- or snowy-day activity to brighten up the day, and she'll be proud to say, "I made that myself!"
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!
Keep all your repair supplies close to hand with this suede tool belt from Custom Leathercraft! Unlike many toolbelts, this can fit a waist as small as 29 inches, so even tweens and teens can wear it. Two large pockets and one small pocket, as well as a loop for a hammer, ensure you have plenty of space, and the polyweb belt has a quick release buckle for when the job is done.
For a budding electrician or engineer — or just someone who wants to understand the exciting world of electronics in a new way — Elenco's Learn to Solder Kit is a must! The included instruction manual teaches you soldering techniques while also teaching you about all the components in the kit. Included are solder, a soldering iron, wire cutters and various electronic parts to practice on including a circuit board.