GOOD TOY GUIDE: Construction toys

This month Dr Amanda Gummer explains how construction toys still manage to aid children’s overall development, boost their confidence and remain relevant in a high-tech world
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While LEGO may be the first construction toy that springs to mind, the wealth of different creative construction products on the market now prompts the question: “What is so good about construction toys?”

Apart from the obvious motor control benefits like hand-eye co-ordination and some of the sets with smaller pieces requiring quite fine motor control, construction toys are very good social toys because they can be played with cooperatively.

Boys tend to lag behind girls in social development, so toys they can use with siblings and classmates are great tools for developing skills such as cooperation and turn taking.

Construction toys can also be played with on their own, so they’re very versatile and the satisfaction children gain from having created something boosts confidence and promotes traits, such as perseverance and concentration.

Lots of construction toys involve an element of logic and strategy, which is good, as well as promoting
a basic understanding of physics.

For example, how to build a solid base, or the fact that if elements of the construction lean over too far, they will fall down. If a parent is playing with their child, they can start to introduce some of these advanced concepts in a non-threatening, easy-to- understand way.

For younger children, differently sized/coloured pieces offer valuable language development opportunities, too.

The traditional play patterns appeal to parents and grandparents who remember their own childhoods, and thus are more inclined to play with children in construction play than with more modern toys.

From lightweight pre- school blocks to high-tech intricate engineering sets, construction toys are one of those classics that will stand the test of time, no matter how screen-based the world becomes.

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