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STEM Building toys – Cheaper Alternatives to Lego Blocks

ViaHart BrainFlakes

If your grade-schoolers are like mine who likes watching TV or playing games in the computer most of the time, then you are not alone. At home, it’s been a constant battle tearing away screen time from our 8 year old son.

The solution? By keeping them busy engaging with toys that promotes creativity and imagination, logical thinking and problem solving, teamwork and collaboration while having a blast! STEM toys kits Construction Building toys for grade-schoolers offers just that! They are complicated enough to spark their building interest but fun and easy to build in order to keep them motivated in creating their very own works of art that they will surely be proud of!

See related post about the importance and relevance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) toys in today’s ever fast changing era.

Lego Building blocks products are the most popular around the globe.
However, they are mostly expensive and offer the same snap on experience on building the blocks. Fortunately, there is a lot of amazing Construction Building toys by different makers that offers alternatives to the Lego blocks. These alternatives provide:

  • More bang on your bucks! Who wouldn’t want to save money, right?
  • Create a whole new different experiences the way the parts are stuck together in building kids’ very own creative artworks
  • Designed to develop and improve kids important skills such as:
    • Hand-eye coordination & Fine motor skillsLogical thinking & problem solving skills
    • Promotes the importance of teamwork & collaboration
    • Builds social skills, supports creativity, and improves imagination

Below are the top picks on STEM toys kits Construction Building toys for grade-schoolers:

Brickyard Educational Construction Building Blocks

This Brickyard set consists of a total 163 pcs blocks, plates, movable wheels, nuts and bolts, screw driver and wrenches tools that kids can assemble into cars, robots animals or just anything they can imagine! Compared to Lego blocks simple push-on building experience, Brickyard Building Blocks offers a realistic feel of building mechanical objects through screwing in the pieces together using toy screw drivers & wrenches.

Pros

  • No-Hassle satisfaction guarantee. Can be returned for Full refund if not satisfied for any reason.
  • Includes a large, full-color guide with 42 designs applicable to wider age range 3 to 7+ yo. This means it can be usable for a longer time!
  • Come with a storage box for quick and convenient cleanups.
  • Made up of plastic that is certified Phthalate, Lead, Cadmium, and BPA-free.
  • Have 6 tools and 163 pieces that enables up to 6 kids to play together at the same time.
  • Parts are big enough and won’t pose choking hazards for kids under 3yo.

Cons

  • May still be complicated for 3 yo’s to do by them selves. Most enjoyed by older kids over 5 years old.
  • Not enough screws and blocks to build most of the designs at the same without stripping the previously built designs, leaving a lot of unused strip pieces.
  • Plastic is of so-so quality; box, plates and wheels get easily broken

IQ BUILDER Creative Construction Engineering

IQ BUILDER building set boasts of the ability to assemble nearly any geometrical configuration – from small simple shapes and patterns to large complex models and structures using a totally different building experience. The set includes a total of 164 pieces squares, rectangles, triangles, and balls, connecting rods in different sizes, 5 wheels and 5 wheel connectors. Each squares/rectangles/triangles have protruding parts that snaps onto the connecting rods. Each ball has 26 connecting points where the connecting rods can be inserted until a “click” sound is heard. The connecting rod comes in four different lengths allowing for great flexibility in design and creativity.

See video below for a quick demo of creating a car.

Pros

  • Includes three (3) instructional ebooks for Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced Builders
  • Safe Plastic material that is Lead-free, BPA-free and Pthalate-free
  • Comes with storage box
  • IQ BUILDER offer a 30 day no question asked 100% money back guarantee

Cons

  • Parts are small and can be choking hazards for kids under 3 year old
  • Many of the models in the instructional e-books required more pieces than what the set came with.
  • No hard copy Instructional Manual. Need to get a PDF copy from IQ builder website

Magnetic Blocks

Magnetic Blocks Kids Magnetic Toys Set is designed for kids over 3 years old and boasts of the best way to explore the world or geometry and architecture. It has a total 154 pcs including 102 magnetic blocks of different shapes, such as squares, triangles, hexagons, rectangle, minor sector triangle, isosceles triangles, trapezoids, sectors, right triangles, semi-circles, pentagon & diamond, 26 letter cards, 16 number cards, an instruction book , a set of guide cards, 2 wheels and 1 Ferris wheel.

Pros

  • Includes a big storage bag for easy clean up
  • Material is made up of ABS material, durable, shock-proof, odorless, smooth edged magnetic tiles
  • A lot of pieces, 3 kids can play at the same time without running out of pieces.
  • Comes with extended 2 year warranty

Cons

  • Weak magnets, easily falls out compared to other magnetic brands but sticks together
  • Wheels get easily broken

Elongdi Magnetic Building Sticks

This Elongdi Learning and building toy set is designed for kids 3+ age. It includes 130 pcs of magnetic rods, about 2.3 inches long and 32 pcs non-magnetic steel balls. An instructional booklet is included. Various designs can be built by connecting the colorful rods & silver balls on each ends, either in a linear or 3-dimensional fashion. Since magnetism is the way of connecting the parts, no twisting, no pressing involved. Simply touching the rods’ end to a ball is all it takes to build a structure.

Pros

  • Material is made up of durable, odorless, BPA-free material
  • Strong magnestism
  • ASTM certified
  • Includes String bag for easy clean up and storage
  • Elongdi offers Lifetime Warranty and refund policy

Cons

  • Balls are small and are choking hazards for kids 3 years and under
  • Hard to achieve a stable configuration. Built design deforms easily
  • Can build limited designs

Brickyard Building Blocks 3-in-1 Building Bricks Set

Brickyard 3-in-1 Construction Blocks

Brickyard Building Blocks set is designed very similar with Lego building blocks, with exact “push in” way of building the various shaped blocks, bricks and wheels to create certain structures with theme. This 3-in-1 set contains 625 pcs of blocks and can build three (3) themes simultaneously for just a small % of the cost compared to Lego Blocks. Themes included are 1) Farm Theme; 2) Pirate Theme; 3) Zoo Theme. This is designed for kids 6+ yo and above, a great alternative or addition to Lego sets.

Pros

  • Includes three (3) full color, step-by-step instruction booklet
  • Includes two (2) brick separator tools and a storage box
  • Made up of high quality plastic material and are lead, cadmium and phthalates-free
  • Compatible with all major brands including Lego blocks

Cons

  • Involves generic human/animal figures
  • Contains very small pieces that can be choking hazards for kids under 3 year old
  • Wheels needs assembly
  • Thinner, smaller parts are hard to disassemble (separator tool provided is required)

VIAHART Brain Flakes Interlocking Plastic Disc Set

Viahart Brain Flakes Interlocking Plastic Disc Set provides a totally different experience in buiding just anything that comes into your kid’s imagination. It offers a more femine, more artsy and crafty approach instead of the typical components with straight edges. This set includes 500 pcs inside a jar and an Idea booklet. The brain flakes disc measures 1.3 inches diameter and 0.1 inch thick. This offers another magical experience as they click the disc together in building your kids very own creation. Designed for kids 5 yo and up.

Pros

  • Materials are made up of durable and colorful polyethylene plastic that is BPA, lead, heavy metal, and phthalate free
  • Viahart offers a 30 day no questions asked return policy
  • Does not hurt if accidentally stepped on
  • There are a lot of pieces, several kids can play together without fighting for pieces

Cons

  • Contains single shape part
  • Cannot be combined with different sets of brain flakes
  • Needs more pressure to stick discs together

Which Building Block Alternative appeals to you the most? Share your thoughts below! πŸ™‚

Posted in GradeSchoolers

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10 Comments

  1. sarah

    Wow, this is just what I was looking for my daughter. She loves learning through toys not by typical writing and reading. I would love to have these amazing toys for my daughter. I really like your collection, thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Kevin

    These products are absolutely awesome and the benefits for preschoolers are excellent. This can really help prepare children for kindergarten and primary schooling. I remember when I was younger when there was the model airplane kits which had to be assembled and glued together. That would keep me busy and entertained for hours on end. This was also subconciously training my brain too and of course I was not aware of it at the time. It really is great that there are many options available and the innovation is pioneering!

    • Jhie

      Thanks Kevin! With all the awesome options now-a-days, gone are the messy glues to deal with. Building is as easy as snapping, clicking and even just tapping the parts together! πŸ™‚

  3. Stella

    Thank you for a thorough description of so many building toys for kids.
    It plays such a big roll in the development of a child and inspire creativity too. The lack there of makes for a flaw in their learning process at school. When a baby is crawling leave him to crawl, don’t try and make him walk. I once heard this activity has something to do with his ability to learn mathematics in future. So kids have to go at their own pace through the phases of growing up.
    I wonder what happened to the Mechano sets of years ago … that was so good for the development of the finer skills of handling stuff. The screwing of nuts and bolts developed muscles in the hands and the coordination of hand and eyes movement.
    Most of the toys of today do not offer the skills to develope those muscles, its design makes it so easy to assemble just push two together and there you have it. There is very little challenge too. Please tell me I am wrong in my observation?
    Stella
    Bush Lady
    guidancewithgranny.com

    • Jhie

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Stella! In contrary with your observation, STEM building toys now offer more challenge especially the one created by Viahart, IQ Builder & Brickyard. These offer a more complicated way of attaching the pieces ro one another conpared with the Lego Blocks. The Brickyard Nuts & Bolts variety definitely uses muscles as the kids screw the parts together. πŸ™‚

  4. Marvin

    Wow these are really cool alternatives to the classic kids lego block, personally I like the Viahart Brain Flakes, So many options out there nowadays.

  5. Cassandra

    Hi there, as an early childhood educator, I absolutely love the stem products and we recently purchased some for our 4 yr olds who love them. I agree with the benefits for learning and wanted to see what other products were available to suit our preschoolers. thankyou for this interesting and in depth look at these products. Cass

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