As your little toddler gets older, it becomes more challenging to keep them entertained (like my 3-year-old daughter). One of the easiest ways to keep those busy bees even more active is with construction toy sets and kits. One of the more popular brands is Magna-Tiles. But what about some more budget-friendly Magna-Tile alternatives? Do they exist?
My personal favorite is the various PicassoTile kits. They’re BPA-free and have a quality similar to Magna-Tiles. In addition to this alternative, there are six other options you can consider. Keep reading for a complete guide.
- What Are Magna-Tiles?
- Why Are Magna-Tiles So Expensive?
- Best (Cheaper) MagnaTiles Alternatives
- 1. PicassoTiles
- 2. Playmags
- 3. Magformers
- 4. Connetix
- 5. Mag-Genius Tiles
- 6. Magna-Qubix
- 7. Cossy Magnetic Building Tiles
- 8. Tegu Blocks
- Features to consider when looking for cheaper Magna-Tile alternatives
- What can I typically build with Magnetic Tiles?
- Can I attach the magnetic tiles to a refrigerator?
- How to Clean Magnetic Tiles
- Which Magna-Tile alternative should I purchase?
- Best Storage Container for Magnetic Tiles
What Are Magna-Tiles?
Magna-Tiles is a popular children’s building toy. Essentially, these plastic tiles are magnetic building blocks that provide your little one with open-ended fun. The magnets in the tiles make the tiles stick together and allow your child to build all sorts of different shapes and designs. Really all sorts of shapes you can and cannot think of. 🙂
Why Are Magna-Tiles So Expensive?
Magna-Tiles are of a much higher quality than cheaper alternatives. Magna-Tiles are heavier and sturdier than some of the other magnetic tiles on the market. For the most part, the price is dependent on the style and quantity included in the package.
Best (Cheaper) MagnaTiles Alternatives
One of the most popular Magna-Tiles alternatives is the PicassoTiles 100 Piece Magnet Building Tiles. There are almost no limitations and your little one can build creations as big as their imagination allows. This pick is great for learning colors, geometrical shapes, and architectural designs.
I recently wrote an article on PicassoTiles or Magna-Tiles comparison that you’ll find interesting if you’re considering this option.
- Promotes problem-solving skills
- Same strength magnet as Magna-Tiles
- Consists of a variety of shapes and colors
- Some kits have fragile tiles
A firm favortie of parents looking for a Magna-Tile alternative is definitely Playmags, in particular, the Playmags 100-Piece Colorful Tile Set. With excellent ratings, it offers problem-solving skills and promotes shape recognition. This engaging set is ideal for preschool children and group activities!
- Compatible with other sets
- Comes in a variety of different shapes & colors
- Some options contain storage bags
- Tiles scratch easily
I recently wrote an article on Magna-Tiles vs Playmags comparison that provides more details in order to make an informed decision!
Another popular brand worth shortlisting in your search for the best alternative is Magformers. Among their extensive options, the Magformers Basic Set 30-Piece is a 5-star favorite. A wide variety of colors and shapes make this a simple but effective alternative!
- Magformers Designer Set – 62-Pieces
- Magformers Creator Carnival Set – 46-Pieces
- Magformers Mini Dinosaur Set – 40-Pieces
- Easy to store
- Develops child’s motor skills
- Teaches child color & shape identification
- More expensive than other alternatives
To compare Magformers to Magna-Tiles in more depth, read whether Magna-Tiles or Magformers to get.
A brand that’s gaining popularity is Connetix. The Connetix 24-Piece Motion Pack gives your child the challenge of constructing a car complete with rubber wheels! Scratch-resistant tiles made from BPA -free plastic provide hours of entertainment!
- Great for problem-solving
- Encourages hand-eye coordination
- Improves motor skills
- Beveled design adds strength
- Ideal for different ages
- Depending on the option, could be more expensive than Magna-Tiles
For more details, read my article talking about Magna-Tiles or Connetix comparison.
5. Mag-Genius Tiles
If you’re looking for 3D building blocks to unleash your child’s creativity, look no further than the Mag-Genius Award Winning building Magnet Tiles Blocks. This kit includes 15 extra pieces, 13 clickins, and 2 cars. Another bonus is the free storage bin!
- Storage bin included in some options
- Suitable for ages 3+
- Can crack if handled too roughly
Another Magna-Tile alternative option worth considering is the Magna-Qubix 85-Piece Set. Suitable for toddlers aged 3 and up, this magnetic building set features 85 pieces in a wide variety of colors and shapes! Since these blocks are slightly smaller, it’s easy for little hands to grip and use.
- Compatible with other building blocks
- Variety of bright colors
- Ideal for little hands to handle
- Some tiles lose their magnetism after a while
7. Cossy Magnetic Building Tiles
The Cossy Kids Magnet Toys Magnetic Tile set has 120 pieces and is considered to be one of the best ways to develop your child’s creativity. Children can easily learn to identify color, geometrical shapes and numbers!
- Suitable for boys & girls
- Fully compatible with other brands
- Easy to construct
- Some magnets are weak
8. Tegu Blocks
For the parent wanting to give their children a wooden toy playing experience, the 24-Piece Tegu Magnetic Wooden Block Set is the ideal option to consider. Tegu Blocks are non-toxic, contain no plastic and no small parts.
- Tegu Daredevil Magnetic Wooden Block Set – 12-piece
- 6-Piece Tegu Travel Pal Magnetic Wooden Block Set
- Easy to build
- Compatible with any Tegu kits
- Location of magnets make post-building interaction possible
- Entire block is not magnetic
- Smaller kits can be too small to provide much entertainment – children get bored easily
Features to consider when looking for cheaper Magna-Tile alternatives
When you’re opting for a cheaper alternative or off-brand Magna-Tiles, there are a few features to consider to ensure the product is not a waste of money.
Parents sometimes believe opting for cheaper magnetic tiles will leave you settling for inferior magnetic strengths. This isn’t always the case, but, you won’t know this if you don’t check existing online reviews of the product. If you’re buying the product in a brick-and-mortar store, always check how the tiles “stick” to each other.
Just because you’re opting for a cheaper alternative, doesn’t mean you have to settle for inferior quality! The tiles you opt for should be easy to build and not fall apart within seconds of being built!
Recommended age range
Always consider the recommended age for each alternative. Some bricks and blocks might have small parts or sharp edges that aren’t suitable for little children. Alternatively, opting for alternatives that are for older children might leave your children uninterested. Ideally, you want an item that starts at an age your child currently is. So look for labels that give you some guidance, for example ‘3+’.
There’s no point in saving money buying a cheaper alternative only to have it last only a few months. Ideally, you want an alternative that will save you money AND at the very least see your children through their toddler years. And, finding an alternative that lasts into your next child’s toddler years is a major bonus!
With Magna-Tiles being as expensive as they are, it’s sometimes more affordable to consider a few alternatives. Trust me, your toddler won’t know or care about the difference in price! Consider how much cheaper the alternative is. In some instances, you might be able to buy an additional add-on kit and still not pay as much as one set of the ‘real thing’!
What can I typically build with Magnetic Tiles?
Since magnetic tiles encourage open-ended play the options of what your children can build are actually endless! It simply comes down to what their imagination can conceive. Magnetic blocks and bricks are the ideal way for toddlers to learn and enhance their fine & gross motor skills. Moving pieces around also strengthens their eye-hand coordination.
Some basic ideas are shown in this video.
Then, use this list to challenge your child and yourself to get seriously creative:
- Make a maze and blow a small ball through the maze ensuring you don’t knock it down.
- Teach your little one to make patterns that repeat themselves. This is a great way to introduce them to making and identifying sequences.
- Search for magnetic objects that the tiles can stick to. This way your child will learn about different surfaces.
- Make a tangram by drawing shapes around a series of different shapes. Encourage your little one to find the matching shape.
- If your little one loves animals, why not build a cat? Here’s a clip!
- If building the cat was fun, have a look at how easy it is to build a turtle!
- For children who love dominoes, here’s an idea that will provide hours of fun!
Can I attach the magnetic tiles to a refrigerator?
One of the fun aspects of magnetic tiles is that they can stick to a wide variety of surfaces. One such surface is your refrigerator! Little ones will add hours of fun to their play-time when they realize that some of their toys can stick to the refrigerator! And you can keep an eye on them while preparing dinner.
How to Clean Magnetic Tiles
All items little ones play with tend to end up covered with anything from spit-up to food and just about everything else! This is why every parent’s first reaction to any new toy is always, “how do you clean it?”
The good news is, magnetic tiles don’t attract as many dirt particles as some of your child’s other toys. Nonetheless, it’s still important to keep them clean. The easiest way to keep Magna-Tiles clean is to simply wipe them off with a damp cloth. Just note that Magna-Tiles shouldn’t be submerged in water.
Which Magna-Tile alternative should I purchase?
With the wide range of alternatives, I am certain you’ll find an alternative that fits your budget. I personally prefer the PicassoTiles because they’re 100% compatible with any Magna-Tile Kit. It’s also one of the alternatives that provide a similar magnet strength.
Best Storage Container for Magnetic Tiles
If you’re the parent to a toddler you’re obviously aware of the drama that ensues when a certain toy or piece of building block can’t be found. While the original packaging might last the first few days, cardboard boxes tend to break or tear.
No matter what alternative you opt for, you’ll need to keep them safe and together when they’re not being played with. In my experience, one of the top storage options you can consider is the Magna-Tiles Storage Bin & Interactive Play-Mat.
This nifty storage bin is collapsible and features canvas handles to allow you to easily carry it to the bedroom or closet where it should be stored. Also included is an interactive playmat that gives your child the right surface to play on, even if you’re traveling with the toys. Additionally, the mat has colors, patterns and shapes so it enhances the learning experience!
While Magna-Tiles might obviously be every parent’s first choice, the good news is, you can’t go wrong with any of the fun and colorful alternatives. They’re just as educational as the originals and will provide your children with hours of entertainment!
You also have a lot of different options, as can be seen in all the varieties from brands like my favorite, PicassoTiles. Match the set to your child’s particular preferences and it will be the best gift this year.
Last update on 2024-02-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API