I used to love playing with construction toys as a kid. In fact, like many adult men, I secretly still love playing with them now! My daughter is just reaching the age where I can justify heading up the loft, dusting off the old boxes of kit and think about stuff we can do together.
She’s already using Duplo, which is a great introductory kit. Lego is the next natural progression, but the thing about Lego is that, with the exception of some specialised kits, it was always much better for building structures such as houses, castles, etc. than it was for building vehicles.
Meccano was the go-to toy for vehicles (admit it dads, we all love a bit of Meccano, don’t we?) but that had its limitations too – namely the small pieces and fiddly assembly that required children to have already reached a certain level of fine motor skills to be able to build cool stuff without becoming frustrated.
Then there was K’Nex. K’Nex was a happy medium between the two – it had battery powered engines, gears of different sizes and various lengths of rod to be able to build a sturdy chassis, whilst also being made entirely of plastic and could be joined together without the need for a screwdriver.
K’Nex was my favourite toy growing up. I made some amazing vehicles with it, and I don’t mind telling you that the last machine I built was only a few years ago. It’s a great toy to introduce the principles of engineering, which is exactly how I will be using it with my daughter.
Need a bridge? Well, you can build a nice looking one with Lego, but don’t expect it to hold much weight. With K’Nex, though, you can engineer the bridge to do what a bridge should do – hold the weight of vehicles crossing it. The assembled kit even looks like a bridge in real life!
There are dozens of blogs posts I could (and will) write about activities you can do with your kids using K’Nex. Most of these will centre around how it can be used to encourage and promote engineering whilst also making it fun.
Building with construction kits is one of the most entertaining and most rewarding indoor activities to do with your kids, and is particularly good when the weather is poor. Keep checking back on the site for ideas for projects.