Twitter response:

Magnetic Toys: Choose Between Magnetic Balls, Blocks, Tiles & More

Magnetic Toys

Magnetic toys are educational and fun for kids. While playing with magnets, they learn science, math, physics and more. When it comes to magnets, there are many types. It’s important to choose the right one for your child.

There are magnetic building toys such blocks, sticks, balls, and tiles. In addition, there are letter magnets kids can play. This will help them learn letters and to form words.

All of these magnetic toys are good STEM building toys. Kids will play with them in different ways for years to come. Magnets teach kids about math and science and let the kids explore cause and effect in tangible ways. 

Your budding engineer can use magnetic manipulatives to boost spatial reasoning, creativity and critical thinking skills. It’s even more fun when they can combine different sets, such as a set of magnetic balls with a set of magnetic blocks.

It’s important to know magnetic toys can be choking hazards. Children should use with supervision.

Best Developmental Toys for Babies and Toddlers

Magnetic building toys

Magnetic toys 

Here’s what to know about these magnetic toys as well as other things kids can do with them. It’s important to learn about magnetic building toys before buying a set.

We explain the differences between magnetic blocks, magnetic balls, tiles, sticks and magnetic toys so you can make the best choice for your child.

Magnetic blocks

When you think of magnetic blocks, you may be thinking of magnetic cubes — much like wooden blocks. However, most magnetic blocks today are more like tiles.

They usually come in a set with bright colors that you can see through. The shapes are made with durable plastic. Each piece is magnetic. These tiles will have strong magnets so builds hold together. Kids will learn shapes and colors playing with these tiles. 

Magnetic blocks

Magnetic blocks

Magnetic tiles and blocks sets include triangles, squares, and rectangles because they have a straight edge. Meaning, you likely won’t find magnetic tiles in circles. The idea is for kids to match sides together so they stick and hold together. 

Includes different shapes

The sets will include different sizes of each shape, meaning, two or three different sized triangles, rectangles, and squares. Some larger sets include hexagons. Some sets include wheels for kids to build vehicles and machines. This helps keep it interesting and so kids can create and build different things. It will also help kids learn shapes as well as sorting.

Children can build cubes or pyramids by color if they choose. They can build kingdoms and towers upright or build lower and horizontally. There are endless possibilities for play.

Like with most magnetic toys, the more they have, the more they can build. Magna-Tile was one of the first (maybe the first!) to come out with these sets. Since then, there have been many others on the market. Some brands are MagBlocks, Picasso Tiles, etc.

Magnetic block tiles are fun

In addition to being excellent educational toys for STEM learning, they don’t take up a lot of room and fit nicely inside a plastic box. This makes magnetic block tiles portable for kids to play. 

It’s important to buy enough tiles. Many sets only come with 30 – 150 magnetic tiles. While it will be fun in the beginning, it likely won’t hold kids’ interest for the long term.

Think of it like other construction toys, like LEGO bricks. The more they have, the more they can create with. Find a set you like. After your child shows interest, and you know it’s a quality product, buy more tiles if you can.

Most magnetic block sets will include directions for ideas. However, kids will enjoy building their own creations. Like all magnetic toys, these sets will foster creativity and imagination. They are educational and will help kids fine tune their motor skills and hand eye coordination.

This is one of the best magnetic toys because it likely poses less of a choking hazard than others with smaller pieces. Magnetic tiles are larger and good for younger kids. It’s a great way to introduce STEM learning to younger kids for this reason.

Older kids, including tweens, will enjoy them as well. Like most magnetic toys, teens and adults will enjoying playing too.

Magnetic building sticks set

There is another type of magnetic building toy. You may see them called magnetic building block sets and magnetic building stick sets. They are small, colorful magnetic sticks kids build with.

These are educational and fun. However, it’s important to note these are small magnetic sticks that can be a choking hazard. Many sets come with magnetic balls as well.

Magnetic Building Sticks

Magnetic building sticks

Kids use their imaginations to create structures. There is a wide age range — younger kids up to tweens will have fun building. Even teens playing with their younger siblings as well as adults will become imaginative building with these magnetic building toys.

These sticks contain strong magnets so creations hold together well. This means it won’t be frustrating for children.

Most magnetic building sticks sets are more than one color. This makes it fun for kids to learn colors as well as sort by color as they wish. 

Like all magnetic toys, kids will build hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Playing with these will encourage spatial thinking. 

Other great things about these types of magnetic blocks and sticks is they are small. They don’t take up a lot of room. Kids can fit thousands of pieces in a small box. It’s also a portable toy kids can play on the road. 

It’s important to look for sets with a minimum of 300 pieces. You may have to buy more than one set. Like with many building toys, the more pieces kids have to create the better. They will be able to build more intricate pieces when they have more sticks.

Magnetic balls

The first thing to consider before buying magnetic balls is they are very small. These pose a choking hazard to small children.

There are two types of magnetic balls. Both are easy to store and don’t take up a lot of space. Magnetic balls help foster spatial thinking as well as imagination and creativity. Kids will fine tune their motor skills and hand eye coordination.

Magnetic balls

Magnetic balls

Depending on the magnetic set you buy, your child will have fun sorting, building, creating, and using her imagination. 

Even better, when kids outgrow the magnets — which won’t be for years, as even older kids love them — you and your kids can use them in engaging projects.

5 mm magnetic balls

Some sets come in a set with 5 mm balls. These usually come in sets of 222 – 1,000 pieces. Some magnetic balls come in a set with all one color; some have six or more colors.

The balls stick together. Many parents use this set as a fidget toy. Children can use them as a  sensory tool to improve concentration, active listening, and attention.

In addition, kids will enjoy creating patterns, flat shapes, 3D shapes such as cubes and spheres, and towers with magnetic balls. 

2.5 mm balls

At half the size, 2.5 mm magnetic balls will take up half the space. These are small magnetic manipulatives that will boost fine motor skills.

These usually come in sets of 500+ balls that together can be an inch in diameter. These are fun for kids and also often geared as a stress relief toy for adults. Oftentimes, companies advertise them as a magnetic sculpture toy to keep on a desk to reduce stress.

Kids can build and create with these magnetic balls; however, these are very small and more difficult to build towers and structures.

If you choose to buy magnetic balls, note the size and how many come with the set. It’s also important to consider the reason you want them. If you are looking for a magnetic toy for a smaller child, you wouldn’t want to choose magnetic balls. 

Magnetic marble run

Learning Resources makes a marble run for the refrigerator. It’s a wonderful STEM magnet marble set for kids to learn cause and effect. They will be learn to be quick to adjust their creation to ensure the marble drops into the holding container.

If you can buy more than one set, that will be ideal. As with many magnetic building toys, the more pieces they have, the more educational it is because they can create more. 

Some magnet marble runs include spinning wheels and other features. You may also find a magnetic wall coaster which is the same idea. 

Kids will enjoy creating different runs, using their science, engineering and design skills all of which build critical thinking and problem solving skills. You may also want to find magnetic gear sets which are an excellent learning toy as well. 

Older kids may enjoy putting together Spacerail marble runs.

Magnetic set

You can also get a magnetic toy set that includes different magnet manipulatives. With this type of open-ended set, kids aren’t building but exploring concepts.

Learning Resources has a set called STEM Explorers Magnet Movers that incorporates different magnets.

Most all open-ended magnet sets make for excellent engineering toy. Children will get inventive as they use the magnets with items around their home. This will help them figure out how things work in a hands-on way.

Magnetic letters

There are many magnetic letter sets available. Kids don’t need a refrigerator for them to stick to in order to use them. Kids can play with magnetic letters on a table or on the floor. Many dry erase boards are magnetic which can enhance play. Some magnetic sets include a small magnetic board.

magnetic letters

magnetic letters

Kids will learn letters and then words with these sets. Consider your child’s age before buying magnetic letters. There are many sets available. Some are larger than others. Consider what will be easy for your child to hold and use. Also, consider how some can be choking hazards.

Magnetic letter sets typically include more than one of each letter, especially the vowels. They often come with their own plastic case with spots for each letter. Many also include numbers.

Important tip for choosing letter magnets

Most letter sets come in different colors. This can be confusing for children who are struggling to learn letters.

If you have a beginning learner, you may want to buy a magnetic set that has the vowels in a different color than consonants. As an example, the vowels are red and the consonants are blue.  It can be easier for children to focus on the letter and phonics when it comes in two colors instead of many colors.

With these magnetic toys, children will learn letters, sounds, and to make words. They will build on upon their fine motor skills.

The brand LeapFrog makes a magnetic letters set. When the child puts the magnetic letter and pushes down, it makes the sound. It’s a great way to learn phonics and letters.

Playing with magnetic toys

Magnets are an educational STEM toy that kids will enjoy. In addition to playing with the toys as they are, there are amazing things you can do with magnetic toys for family fun. You can also get creative and make magnetic toys. 

Investigate the magnetic content of food

Kids will have fun learning about the iron content in breakfast cereals. You will need is a neodymium magnet. Next, select a cereal that has a high percentage of iron and smash it into tiny bits. Have your child hover the magnet above the cereal.

In cereals with higher traces of iron, you should be able to see tiny specks of iron pull onto the magnet.

Magnetic ball marble run

Use your child’s small magnetic ball to create a marble run out of old paper towel and wrapping paper rolls. You can even cut up pool noodles in half (horizontally) for longer ramps.

It doesn’t have to be magnetic for it to work; any marble or small ball will do.

Make painted wood sticks

Painted wood sticks or Popsicle sticks are another great way to get more use out of your child’s magnetic toys and encourage imaginative play.

You can have your little one paint on the wood sticks in fun and creative designs. After they are done painting and they dry, take your magnetic disks and put one on each end of stick using a hot glue gun.

Your kids can enjoy playing with the sticks on any magnetic surface. The fridge is the obvious choice but it could lead to fun little designs around the house. They can make different designs with the sticks.

Magnetic fishing

This is a simple magnetic toy you can make at home. You will need magnets, paper clips, hot glue, string, sticks, and any other craft supplies to make the fish.

Make a fishing pole by tying the end of the string to a stick and using a hot glue gun to secure the magnet on the other end of the string attached to a small piece of the stick. Kids can get creative making fish. Use a hot glue gun to a paper clip on each fish.

Once the magnet is attached you can place the paper fish in a bowl or behind a sheet you hang and have your kids start fishing.

Create magnetic refrigerator puzzle 

If your child likes doing puzzles, this next tip will be a blast. Choose one of your child’s puzzles, and adhere magnets to the back of each piece small magnets with super glue.

Your kids will be able to do puzzles on the fridge without you worrying about lost pieces. It will be a great way for them to stand instead of sit, and to view the puzzle differently. 

Magnetic sculptures

As your child becomes more involved with science, building things may pique their interest. Another excellent way to get the most out of your magnetic toys is to use the magnets to build sculptures.

Incorporate nuts and bolts, metal lids, and your child’s collection of magnets. If the magnets from your toy are not big enough to fit in the metal lid, adding flat, ceramic magnets should do the trick.

Once the magnets are in place, you can start adding the nuts and bolts onto the other side of the lid.

If you feel the magnetic structure losing its strength, put another ceramic magnet in the structure, and you shouldn’t have any problem expanding whatever your child builds

Magnetic slime

Kids love to get messy, and this could be the messiest idea on the list. To get things started you will need plain Elmer’s glue, liquid starch, iron oxide powder, and of course one (or a few small) neodymium magnets.

To make the slime you will need to put 1/4 cup of liquid starch into a bowl with two tablespoons of iron oxide powder. Stir until it starts to make a liquid form.

Add in 1/4 cup of glue and continue mixing for a few minutes. Next, have the kids mix it by hand. It should become the stretchy form you will use.

Pat the slime dry using a paper towel to get any excess liquid off of it. Children can use a magnet with the slime and have fun.

Create a mini magnetic field

This is a simple trick and shouldn’t take much time to get set up. You will need a round neodymium magnet and copper piping slightly larger than the magnet.

Stand the pipe up and drop the magnet down. Instead of dropping down quickly, it will slowly descend to the bottom. This will be fun, exciting, and entertain your children.

Make jingle bell wands

This magnetic toy is geared towards younger children but can be fun for tweens as well. To make the magnetic jingle bell wands, you will need craft sticks, bells, magnetic disks and a hot glue gun.

First, help children glue two magnetic disks on each side of the popsicle stick. Once the magnets are in place, glue the bells onto magnets.

After the bells are securely on the magnets, kids will have a jingle bell wand to enjoy playing with for their parades, plays, dances, and other creative play.

Magnetic toys ~ which to consider

Magnets are some of the best learning toys for early exploring of STEM concepts. Magnetic toys are educational and teach about simple science concepts, fostering creativity and exploration, and encourage problem solving.

Before buying magnetic toys, it’s important to consider the different types. There are magnetic blocks, magnetic tiles, magnetic balls, and more. Each has it’s advantages.

Creating with magnet toys is also a great way to get older kids interested in playing and creating and away from video games. With any magnets and small pieces, supervise young children and watch younger siblings.

Kids will use them in many ways for years. There are so many ways you can get extended use out of magnetic toys.

Leave a comment