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The BEST Engineering Toys for Kids


If you’re like most parents, you want to find the best way to encourage your child’s love of learning and discovery. Engineer toys are a great way to do just that! These toys help kids learn about science, math, and technology while having fun. Check out our list of the best engineering toys for kids!

This post includes my absolute favorite engineering toys for kids! Enjoy!

What are Engineering Toys?

Engineering toys are educational toys designed to engage children in activities that promote the development of engineering and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) skills.

These toys are specifically crafted to encourage hands-on exploration, problem-solving, creativity, and critical thinking, all while having fun. Engineering toys can vary widely in complexity and target age group, ranging from simple building blocks for toddlers to more advanced kits for older kids and teenagers.

Here are some common types of engineering toys:

  1. Building Blocks and Construction Sets: Toys like LEGO, Mega Bloks, and K’Nex allow children to build structures, vehicles, and machines using interlocking plastic pieces. These toys promote spatial awareness and creativity.
  2. Robotics Kits: Robotics kits like LEGO Mindstorms, VEX Robotics, and Ozobot provide children with the components and instructions to build and program robots. They teach concepts related to mechanical engineering, electronics, and coding.
  3. Science Kits: Science kits often include experiments related to engineering principles. These kits can cover topics like electricity, circuits, chemical reactions, and more, fostering an understanding of scientific and engineering concepts.
  4. Model Kits: Model kits for planes, cars, and ships require assembly and often come with intricate details. Assembling these kits can help develop fine motor skills and an appreciation for precision in engineering.
  5. DIY Electronics Kits: These kits come with components like breadboards, resistors, LEDs, and sensors, allowing kids to build simple electronic projects. They introduce basic electrical engineering concepts.
  6. Marble Runs and Rube Goldberg Machines: Marble run sets challenge kids to create intricate pathways for marbles to travel through, while Rube Goldberg machine kits encourage the construction of complex, cause-and-effect contraptions.
  7. 3D Printing and STEM-Related Technologies: Some advanced engineering toys introduce kids to modern technologies like 3D printing and coding with programmable microcontrollers.
  8. Engineering Puzzles: These puzzles often involve engineering principles and require creative problem-solving to solve, such as bridge-building puzzles or mechanical puzzles.

Engineering toys are valuable tools for nurturing a child’s interest in STEM fields and can inspire future engineers and scientists. They encourage hands-on learning and often come with educational resources and activities that support learning through play.

These toys can be enjoyed by children of various ages and provide opportunities for exploration and growth in engineering-related skills.

Why Teach Kids Engineering?

Any time we can get a child to think proactively with problem-solving in a concrete or abstract way is a win for their brain development. Starting early in a child’s development is key. As a parent & teacher, getting a good understanding of design thinking is a great start.

Similar to other science projects & curricula, you want to start with learning objectives, utilize brainstorming with a team, active problem solving (no potential solution or aspect to the problem is off-limits), and get comfortable with failure.

The Best Engineering Toys for Kids

How Design Thinking Works in Real-Life

An example of one approach to a project might include:

  • Creating a brief on the project
  • Researching the problem
  • Generating ideas for solutions & beginning to develop these solutions
  • Creating a prototype
  • Testing the solution
  • Evaluating and modifying the solution if needed

Creating a Brief 101 for the Engineering Project

According to a thoughtful article on Edutopia, a brief should include details such as

  • Identify a client and imagine their needs.
  • Consider what design enhancements might make the trip easier.
  • Select/create vehicle features that will make the trip nicer for everyone.
  • Create multiple idea sketches and share ideas with the group.
  • Select one idea and create a final series of at least two sketches showing the front, side, and three-quarters view of the concept car.
  • Create a clay prototype of the vehicle.
  • Present their idea sketches and prototype.
STEM Toys for Kids

The BEST Engineering Kits for Kids

Engineering toys for kids are a fantastic way to foster creativity, problem-solving skills, and an interest in science and engineering. A great supplement to teaching kids about simple machines, check out these engineering toys for kids.

  1. LEGO Sets: LEGO offers a wide range of building sets that allow kids to construct and engineer various structures, vehicles, and machines. LEGO Technic sets are especially popular for their focus on gears, motors, and more advanced building techniques. We love this Lego Chain Reactions Kit.
  2. K’Nex: K’Nex building sets include rods and connectors that allow kids to build and design different structures, vehicles, and working models. They often come with instructions to build specific models or can be used for free-form construction.
  3. Snap Circuits: Snap Circuits kits introduce kids to the basics of electronics and circuitry. They feature snap-together components that allow children to build working circuits and create projects like light bulbs, alarms, and sound systems.
  4. Engino: Engino sets combine building with mechanics and engineering concepts. They provide parts and instructions for building various models that demonstrate principles like levers, gears, and pulleys.
  5. Marble Run: Marble run sets involve building tracks and structures to guide marbles through a series of twists, turns, and obstacles. They help kids understand gravity, momentum, and problem-solving as they design and optimize their marble run pathways.
  6. Magnetic Building Blocks: Magnetic building blocks, like those from Magformers or Magna-Tiles, allow kids to construct 3D shapes and structures using magnetized pieces. These sets promote spatial reasoning, creativity, and fine motor skills.
  7. Tinkering Sets: Tinkering sets often consist of a variety of materials like nuts, bolts, connectors, and other parts that kids can use to build and invent their own creations. They encourage open-ended exploration and hands-on problem-solving.
  8. Robot Kits: Robot kits, such as those from LEGO Mindstorms or Makeblock, enable kids to build and program their own robots. These kits introduce robotics, coding, and automation concepts, allowing kids to design and control their robotic creations.
  9. Coding Toys: Coding toys, like Cubetto or Bitsbox, provide a playful introduction to coding concepts for young children. These toys often involve interactive games, puzzles, and tangible coding blocks to teach programming logic and problem-solving skills.
  10. Building Sets with Motors: Some building sets, like Meccano or Erector sets, incorporate motors and gears, allowing kids to create moving and mechanical structures. These sets introduce engineering principles related to motion and power transmission.

When choosing engineering toys, consider the child’s age, interests, and skill level. Encouraging a mix of guided building projects and open-ended exploration will help nurture their creativity, critical thinking, and engineering mindset.

Building Toys for Kids

Engineering Toys for Kids - Straw Construction Set

Straw Construction Set

You can do so much with this straw construction set! Watch & observe as kids build structures from their imagination such as bridges and buildings. 

Engineering Design at Work

I added this book to the mix of engineering toys because I believe part of learning something new is understanding how things work. 

This engineering book examines 9 amazing feats & real life such as landing a rover on Mars, resolving traffic congestion, and saving a herd of animals from extinction. Plus it dives deep into that design thinking I referenced above. 

K’Nex Model Building Set

I have written about our love for K’Nex in previous posts.  Sure you can follow directions but the most satisfying is building something with your imagination.

K’Nex takes STEM learning to the next level with gears, wheels, and additional features that allow kids to create, test, and modify their inventions.

Other Engineering Learning for Kids

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