There is never a dearth of demand for building block toys, which is reason enough fo rthe industry to come up with creative options every now and then.

Building and construction toys have been a fixture in playrooms since, well, forever, and there are several reasons for their enduring appeal.

“Directions aren’t necessary, no rules or instructions are needed. Children are just provided space to grow,” says Judith Ellis, founder and chairwoman of the Toy Design department at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology.

“Construction toys empower children. They offer a child a chance to be adventurous to ask, ‘what if,’ to think abstractly, developing creative intelligence. Building develops strategic thinking. It provides visionary perspective and it increases attention spans,” Ellis says.

At the recent Toy Fair 2014 in New York, the building category was robust, according to Adrienne Apell, trends specialist for the Toy Industry Association. “We love this trend because it speaks to the fact that classic play patterns appeal to kids, generation after generation.”

Magna Tiles and more

Magna Tiles are colourful geometric tiles with embedded magnets along the edges. There are also translucent tile sets to make see-through creations, including “stained glass” windows. ( )

Tegu blocks are also magnetized but are crafted of wood, harvested by cooperatives in Honduras certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The smooth-sided blocks, rectangles and triangles come in soft, natural colors in both starter-set sizes (with a felt travel pouch) and larger sets of 40 to 480 pieces. There’s a car-building set, too. ( )

Toddler builders might like to start with Edushape’s sturdy foam blocks and shapes. After mastering simple tangrams, kids can graduate to Kiddy Connects a collection of snap-and-lock plastic pieces that include elbows and other unusual shapes.(

K’nex has kits to make simple machines like windmills, sail carts, water mills, elevators and levers, allowing kids to tinker at home with concepts they may have been exposed to in the classroom. ( )

And targeting science-oriented young girls, Goldie Blox kits offer the chance to build things like dunk tanks, spinning machines and belt drive machines. ( )

Finally, for the kids who are always taking apart broken appliances or rewiring the stereo, consider littleBits. It offers what you need to make all kinds of electronic circuits, but without worrying about wiring, programming or soldering. The magnet-embedded modules snap together, and you can add buzzers, lights or other components to create more elaborate contraptions. An online library offers free plans, and you can share your creations there as well. ( )

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