You may have heard of magnetic building tiles or maybe you already have some at home. They are a popular toy for children and tend to get lots of use. Let’s have a look at why they are such good toys and some ideas for play with magnetic tiles.
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- 1 Why are magnetic tiles essential for play? Why are they good for kids?
- 2 How many magnetic tiles should you get?
- 3 Do all magnetic tiles work together?
- 4 What age are magnetic building blocks for?
- 5 Are magnetic blocks safe?
- 6 What brand of magnetic tiles should I buy?
- 7 Magnetic building block ideas
- 8 Which magnetic play activity should you try first?
- 9 How do you clean magnetic building blocks?
- 10 Conclusion – Are magnetic tiles worth it?
Why are magnetic tiles essential for play? Why are they good for kids?
Magnetic tiles are essential for play for a number of different reasons:
- They allow for endless creativity
Magnetic tiles give kids the room to be as creative as they like, and to build things over and over again. As soon as one design falls apart, they can make another one. It’s fun and beneficial for their development to play in this way.
There are a lot of different games and activities to try with magnetic tiles. They can help with numeracy, literacy and much more to support your child’s learning and growth.
- Have a long shelf life
Magnetic tiles are a great investment because they are fun and engaging for kids of all ages. They last a long time and remain relevant as you child grows.
How many magnetic tiles should you get?
Start out with one set and see what your child makes of them. Get a medium or large set with at least 40-50 pieces so they can get stuck into making designs right away. When your child has tried them out you can decide if you would like to add to your collection.
Magna-Tiles Deluxe Set 48 pieces
The beauty of magnetic tiles is that you can add to them anytime and expand your set as you need to. There are very large sets out there with 100+ pieces as well as add ons like vehicle bases and windows to try.
Do all magnetic tiles work together?
Not necessarily. However the original Magnatiles brand works well with Playmags, Picasso and Children’s Hub tiles so you can certainly mix and match these ones. If you are starting your collection from scratch it is a good ideas to stick to one brand just to be sure. It makes life easier when you buy add-ons or unusual pieces. Magformers are one of the exceptions as they aren’t compatible with most other brands.
What age are magnetic building blocks for?
Magnetic tiles are suitable for any age, but they are best for ages 3-10. This age group will get the most benefit from playing with them. Before 3 years old children struggle to make significant structures, although younger children can certainly try. After 10 years of age, older kids still like them but will probably tire of playing with the magnetic tiles long before their younger siblings do.
Are magnetic blocks safe?
Yes, they are when you buy a trusted brand of magnetic blocks or tiles. Look for reputable brands that construct tiles BPA and phthalate free, and check the reviews before you buy.
What brand of magnetic tiles should I buy?
Magnatiles are the original brand of magnetic tiles and they are great, but on the expensive side. For cheaper options, try either Picasso, Playmags or Children’s Hub brand magnetic tiles. You will get an equivalent quality at a lower cost.
Playmags 100 piece set
PicassoTiles 100 piece set
Magnetic building block ideas
Here are 16 ideas to get the creative juices flowing when your children play with magnetic tiles.
- Creative Free Building
Pure and simple creative play is the best way to play with magnetic tiles or blocks. Some kits come with idea booklets which your child can use for inspiration or just let them use their imagination and create something totally unique!
- Fridge Art
Use your magnetic tiles or blocks on the fridge to make pictures, patterns or even letters and numbers. This is a fun activity and makes the magnets easily accessible for your child at all times of day too.
- Alphabet and Spelling
Stick post-its with letters written on them onto the tiles and allow your child to practice spelling words or even their name. This is a good way to familiarise your child with the alphabet and boost their confidence with spelling. Some magnetic tile sets have letters included, such as Playmags.
- Numbers and Basic Math
You can use post-its again, write numbers on them and encourage your child to put them in order or to create basic sums. Alternatively, try using the tiles or blocks themselves to count how many there are, what happens when you take one away or add two more. Ask your child to create piles or creations with a certain amount of tiles, for example make a house with 8 tiles etc.
Ask your child to identify the color of each tile or block. Talk to them about which ones are primary colors and which ones are secondary colors. Have them lay two different colored tiles on top of each other and see what color it makes. Ask them to make something using a certain color so they can practice picking them out.
- Learning Shapes
Magnetic tiles and blocks come in different shapes and this is a good starting point to talk about triangles, squares and rectangles. Next, try putting tiles together to make more geometric shapes and then you can introduce 3D shapes like cubes and pyramids as your children get older.
- Tower Building Challenge
Have a tower building contest. See who can make the tallest tower and measure it. Then try to build the strongest tower and test it with a wind machine (a fan or use a big piece of card!) There are lots of ways to expand on this idea and allow kids to get creative and have a ton of fun.
- Scavenger Hunts
Set your child a challenge to find a set of magnetic tiles around the room or house. You can hide them as they are or put numbers on each one and ask your child to collect them in order. Once they have found them all they must build a house, or car or whatever you come up with to complete the challenge.
- Building Contest
This works best with older children in general. Challenge your kids to build a creation with a time limit. Once the buzzer goes off they must finish building and you or someone else can judge the contest. You can give points for speed, quality and design.
- Glow Sticks
Place glow sticks inside your kids’ creation, turn out the lights and watch the magic happen. Kids love glow sticks and they bring their creations to life!
Line up some magnetic building blocks in a row (if you use tiles it may be a good idea to build cubes to ensure they stand up). Roll a soft ball towards the bowling “pins” and see how many each kid can knock down with each turn. Keep score to turn it into a longer game.
Create an image with magnetic tiles then see if your child can replicate it. They need to find the right tiles and carefully copy the design. Next, ask them to create their own design and you replicate it. Make it harder and cover the design and see if they can create it from memory.
Draw around magnetic tiles or blocks to create artwork on paper. Kids work on their fine motor skills and get to create their own drawings to hang on the fridge (with magnetic tiles of course!) Kids can also draw pictures of their creations or make designs in the first place before they get ready to build.
Line up magnetic tiles along the floor just like you would line up a row of domino tiles. Then push the first tile down, it will hit the next one and so on until they all fall down. It’s a lot of fun to watch them topple and to set them up each time. Good for fine motor skills too.
- Measure height
Build magnetic tiles or blocks as tall as each kid. See if they can make a tower exactly the same height as they are and then measure the tower together. Talk about measurements and how we grow.
- Car Obstacle Course
Use the magnetic tiles to create ramps and tunnels to fit toy cars. Then test it out with races, time trials and adjust the track with new designs as you go. Kids will love building obstacles and putting them into action.
Which magnetic play activity should you try first?
Start with idea number 1 (see above) which is imaginative play. Let your child explore to discover how the tiles or blocks fit together and test out the magnets. Watch to see how they learn to put two or more tiles together. Then encourage them to add more and see what they come up with. You will be surprised at how quickly your child will build anything from houses to castles and robots to pets.
Once they have gotten to grips with using the tiles and have built up confidence, introduce a new game or activity. The most important thing is that your child enjoys themselves when playing with magnetic tiles because the best learning comes when they have fun!
How do you clean magnetic building blocks?
Clean magnetic building blocks or tiles with a damp, clean cloth. Use warm water and for really stubborn dirt you can add a little bit of gentle soap to the mix. Simply wipe them down to remove any debris or build up of dirt over time. You can also use a sanitizing wipe to clean them off. You may choose to do this especially if they are used in a day care ofr pre-school setting where lots of children are using the same toys.
Make sure you allow the tiles or blocks to dry completely before you put them away to avoid any build up of mold or mildew.
Can magnetic tiles get wet?
According to Magna-Tiles there is no safety risk of them getting wet which means you can take them in the bath or paddling pool. That being said, the tiles may get rusty and develop mold and become unusable over time. So, if you do get magnetic tiles wet, make sure they dry out properly before you put them away.
Conclusion – Are magnetic tiles worth it?
Definitely. Magnetic tiles have a long shelf life and many children play with them for years and years. I have seen families with several children aged 3-10 all playing together with magnetic tiles for hours. The tiles engage with children’s imaginations and grow with them. You will notice their designs become more elaborate as your child gets older and their ideas for what to do with them move way outside the box.
Magnetic tiles are a versatile toy that cater to a wide age range and offer lots of different play and learning options. Parents and children alike will enjoy this toy for many years, have lots of fun in the process, so they are well worth the investment.