There is little doubt that Lego is a premium product that will satisfy the desire to build of most kids. However, for parents, there are other factors to consider. Lego’s tend to be expensive. You can quickly go over your planned budget buying enough sets to keep your kids busy for a reasonable period.
Further, since so many of the sets today are based on characters, they come with precise directions. As a result, once they are built, they have taken their final form, and the child may lose interest. Parents are justified in seeking out a more affordable Lego alternative that is more budget-friendly.
Why Parents Seek Lego Alternatives
While it is true that Lego is by far the most favored building product by both the kids who play with them and the parents who buy them, their products are quite costly. With Lego, you get what you pay for.
They are the dominant brand in the market segment, produce an exceptionally high-quality product, and feature themed sets that you can’t get anywhere else. Over the years, they have used their dominance in the field wisely, building strong relationships with their customers and an outstanding reputation generation after generation.
All of this is good for Lego and the people who can afford to buy them. But for the budget-conscious parent who wants their child to have the same enriching building experience without the cost, there are options out there that can meet their needs.
When seeking to identify these toys, it is essential to consider all factors that are important to your purchase, including quality, style, and price. Lego’s are among the most expensive construction toys in the market. While their prices do seem to reflect their quality, at the end of the day, these products are just toys and not everyone one cannot expect to spend so much on toys.
All of the alternatives to Lego are less pricey than their elder cousin and are not far off in quality. If the above reasons are not enough for you to an alternative to Lego’s, you may consider the purpose of providing your children with a brand new experience.
Many Lego alternatives are built differently than Lego and offer different kinds of experiences to what Lego-friendly children are used to. By combining bricks and pieces in new ways and learning to adapt to new strategies and techniques, these alternatives create a brand new challenge for your child. And a new challenge is always good for your child’s development.
What To Look Out For in Lego Alternatives
Reasons abound as to why you should give alternatives to Lego toys a chance in your home and your children’s lives. However, you should not be quick to buy just any alternative you come across. There are so many alternatives in the market that it is difficult to pick and choose quickly.
These products come in a wide variety of sizes, themes, shapes, colors, and prices, making it all the more challenging to tell the quality ones from the rest. If you are set to get one of these products, use the following tips to filter your options.
- Make sure there are enough pieces to construct something meaningful
The size of the set will matter to the child because it will have a direct impact on what they can build. I am not saying to buy the biggest set you can find, but make sure it is sizable enough to give them a lot of options. The more pieces, the more options for variety.
Hopefully, this means more time they’ll spend trying to conquer it. If there aren’t enough pieces, then you can be sure that it is not going be useful to your child. Some toys have enough pieces to combine to build a wide range of creations, engaging your child a little longer.
- Ensure that the toy is appropriate for your child’s age and level of development
The complexity of the building toy should be commensurate with the age, skill, and maturity of your child. If the toy is too tricky, it may soon become frustrating for your child; discouraging engagement and defeating the purpose of buying the toy in the first place. On the other hand, when a construction toy is too easy, it is bound to become dull and unappealing to your child. That leaves them a toy they don’t use and you to pay the bill.
With all this being considered, your goal is to strike a balance between a product that is too easy and too challenging. You can use the manufacturer’s specified age range on products as a starting point for choosing the appropriate toy. Note, however, that these recommendations are just guidelines and your child may very well not fall within the range they provide. Be ready to assess their ability on your own.
- Buy products that are durable and of high quality
If you buy a cheap product that gets broken in a few weeks, then your money will be wasted. This only builds cost and frustrates your finances. Don’t swing from the high end of the spectrum with Lego to the cheap end. Find a reasonable middle. You must try to buy a product that is made of high-quality materials and will last long enough for your child to grow out of it.
- Get a toy that your child is interested in engaging with
You don’t want to buy a toy that would only make your kid feel bored. Before you buy a product, think of what your child enjoys doing, or simply ask them about it. If they like helicopters, then buy a toy that they can use to build helicopters. You could even buy themed sets that are modeled after popular franchises if you can find alternative sets that have partnered with those brands.
- Look for toys that can challenge your kid to be creative
Many children like building creations according to the instruction manuals included in toy sets. However, some adventurous kids want to create their journey and build something through their creativity. It is more beneficial for your kids to play around with toy sets that are flexible enough to allow for creative constructions than sets that are limited by specific instructions.
Lego Alternatives Worth Trying
If you have read all of the tips and guidelines stated above, then it’s finally time to go into the market to get your child a new construction toy. Listed below are quality construction toys that your child would be delighted to have and build with.
Nanoblock building toys
Nanoblocks are relatively new construction toys manufactured by the Japanese company Kawada. Nanoblock kits are what you would describe as miniature Legos because they are about one-eighth the size of Legos. Along with their size and minimal differences in architecture, Nanoblocks are not different from Legos in terms of the basic principles on which they work. The most significant distinctions are size and price, which makes them favorable to you.
- Nanoblocks are less pricey than Lego kits. For a fraction of the price of a Lego set, you can get a Nanoblock kit that your child can spend hours working with. Even large Nanoblocks sets are affordable and are often filled with a substantial amount of blocks.
- They take up less space and, therefore, create less clutter. Because of their smaller sizes, you can keep more Nanoblock kits than Lego kits in the same area. This also makes them more portable and more convenient to carry around. As a result, you can buy more Nanoblock kids without having to turn part of your home into a toy warehouse. Further, you never have to worry about what happens to all of your child’s construction toys when packing up in a hurry, as you can fit Nanoblocks in small spaces.
- Nanoblocks can prove more challenging to build with than Legos, due to their smaller sizes. One wrong placement can make your tower come crumbling to the ground. With Nanoblocks, you can create more with less space and less weight. The 1,800-piece Titanic Nanoblock kit is so small you can recreate the entire Titanic ship in front of the fridge. That’s great for large and intricate models.
- The major con of Nanoblocks is that they are not well suited for younger children due to their size
K’NEX construction sets
K’NEX sets are made of rods and connectors that your child can use to build a wide range of creations. From rollercoasters to cars to Super Mario there is no limit to what your child can make with K’NEX sets. A large number of K’NEX sets are motorized, so your child can use the vehicle that the set comes with to ride the rollercoasters they build, allowing them to demonstrate that their creation really works. Although they are made for kids between the ages of 7 and 12, there are K’NEX sets that are made for older age groups as well.
- K’NEX sets come in many varieties, leaving you with a world of products to choose from.
- They are cheaper than Legos.
- There are product options for both young and older children.
- As you might have already imagined, complete K’NEX sets, particularly the larger sets, take up a lot of space. So, be ready to make room for them.
- Very large finished K’NEX sets may be a bit unstable.
Brickyard Educational Construction Building Blocks
Brickyard blocks are STEM-inspired alternatives to Lego bricks. The sets come with blocks, wheels, plates, bolts, a screwdriver, and other tools. They can be used to construct robots, vehicles, animals, or just about any creation your child can think of. In contrast to using Lego bricks to build things, Brickyard toys offer kids a more realistic experience by making them actually screw parts into one another and mount wheels on the vehicle them to allow them to move.
- They are generally affordable.
- The toys come with storage boxes to make cleaning up easier and more convenient.
- They are made with certified plastic materials that are considered not harmful to health.
- They come with a variety of tools, which makes it possible for more kids to play at the same time, together.
- The Brickyard company has a good refund policy in place so you can return any item you are not satisfied with and get your money back.
- The toys are typically very challenging for kids younger than five years of age and are not suitable for those who are four or below.
- The screws and blocks are not enough to build creations without stripping previously constructed creations of parts.
Magformers are magnetic toy sets primarily designed to help young children through the world of basic geometry. The toys offer perhaps the most effective way to teach young kids geometry and architecture. The kits differ in size and can be made into various shapes, such as squares, rectangles, triangles, hexagons, trapezoids, and diamonds. Kids can build a house, a stable and barn for their horses, or other structures easily without having to worry about how the pieces will fit together.
- They come with a storage bag to make cleaning easier.
- They are relatively affordable.
- The magnetic blocks are smooth-edged, durable, and made to be able to withstand shock.
- There are lots of pieces, so up to 3 kids can play at the same time.
- They come with a 2-year warranty. This lays testament to the company’s trust in the quality of their products.
- It’s easy to see how young kids can grow out of this product as they get older.
Most of the toys listed so far are made out of plastic. So, if you are passionate about reducing the amount of plastic in the world and making the world healthier while helping your child explore their creative side, then there is an excellent option for you: Big Future toys offers magnetic wooden blocks for kids. They are made out of high quality sustainably sourced hardwood, offering natural beauty and finish that is hard to find in other manufactured products. The combination of cedar tree bark, compressed sawdust from cedarwood, coffee beans, and polypropylene to hold it all together.
- They are eco-friendly.
- They do not break easily.
- They do not come in various vibrant colors but instead are made in hues of the natural colors of the constituent materials.
Arduino Uno Kits
Arduino Uno Kits are alternatives to the Lego robotics sets, offering a way to teach electrical engineering to young people. They are created to help build competence and confidence in kids who have taken a liking to robotics engineering.
Arduino is a household name in the robotics engineering sector, as they have created tons of gadgets that have helped robotics-minded individuals reveal and develop their engineering side.
By using the Arduino Unit kits, kids can learn to program in the C language, which is an excellent start to learning how to code. Two useful products to buy are the Elegoo Arduino Uno Kit (for developing electronic prototypes) and the Elegoo Smart Robot Car (for locomotive robots).
- Provides a less expensive robotics engineering option.
- They are quite robust and have a wide range of applications.
- They are typically for older children.
I used to buy my kids every Lego set they wanted. I got caught up in the beneficial educational aspect of the Lego experience and was paying less attention to the financial aspect. It didn’t take me long to catch on. Lego’s are expensive! Each set was built once and went on the shelf for display. I soon began searching for a better way.
That’s when I came across Lego Robotics. The sets are a bit more expensive than a regular Lego set. However, the child can build hundreds of different creations from just one robotics set. Further, they will learn to program it too, giving them experience with both the software and hardware aspects of robotics.
For younger kids, Lego We do is the way to go. It offers guided lessons through the app that comes with it. The learning system Lego put in place gradually guides the child along so they can build confidence as they build their skills. It is definitely worth a look!
For older kids, Lego Mindstorms offers tremendous value. Its designs are intriguing and will keep the mind challenged and engaged. It also comes with an app to guide learning. It is very impressive and is worth a look if you have never seen it before.
You know the needs of your child better than anyone else. I can say from my own personal experience; I liked to layout a potential roadmap for the sets my kids would grow into so I had confidence in the path I was putting them on. By approaching their toy purchases a little more intentionally, I knew I could give them more opportunities for enrichment during play, satisfying both needs at the same time.
It’s a strategy that seems to work well for many parents. As the child settles into a rhythm, the parent gets more familiar with what they like and what they don’t like and does a better job feeding their pattern of growth. It’s a strategy worth considering.
For more strategies designed to help ease the challenges of parenting, check out this article.