Construction play develops a range of skills: Hand-eye coordination, Logic and Planning. It is one of those wonderfully flexible activities that can be enjoyed with friends or individually and also by children of different ages and abilities. Playing with friends develops communication skills and teamwork, whereas building something alone enhances concentration and boosts confidence.
If you’re an adult building things with children, make sure the children are free to create their own objects. Try to avoid the urge to get them to match colours or build things according to your view of the world. Encourage them to be creative and use their designs to ask questions that promote rather than stifle their imagination and creativity. For example, a child may build a house without a door. Try asking where the secret way in is, or what special powers the people who live in that house posses to walk through walls.
Using kits that tell a child how to build something can be good for developing literacy and teaching children to follow instructions, however they can take away the imaginative element of the play. Encourage children to follow instructions the first time they make something and then allow them to use their own imagination to recreate something different with the kits, especially when they can mix different kits together.
There are some great construction toys available, but traditionally they have tended to be aimed at boys, rather than girls. Notable exceptions are unisex products such as Bizzy Bitz, Morphun and Triqo. Lego have continued to divide their toys by gender but the Lego Friends range is particularly popular with girls.