My wife and I try our best to keep our two young boys stimulated with a solid daily routine. In the morning, they eat breakfast and read books while we get ready for work. After daycare, they play ball-hockey in the living room or dance to Moana as we straighten the house or prep dinner. And most days, it works well ⏤ they stay entertained, we get life done. At some point, though, their afternoon attention spans started to wane.
As did our patience. There’s only so much pant-tugging and crocodile tears a parent can take before something snaps. We needed a new way to keep them distracted. So after seeing our son mesmerized with IMDEN’s magnetic building tiles on a playdate, we went home and ordered a $32 set. It turns out, something did snap ⏤ it just wasn’t us, it was the blocks.
Admittedly, one of the things I have most looked forward to doing with my kids was building LEGO together. I couldn’t wait. I still can’t. And while they’re just a tad too young for actual locking bricks, these STEM tiles are a perfect starter set. Made for ages three and up, they come in simple, flat shapes (squares, triangles, trapezoids, and hexagons) and easily snap together and apart. In fact, it’s almost as fun watching their faces light up when they make the right connections ⏤ be it a cube, pyramid, or house ⏤ by accident! Thanks to magnetic attraction, it’s pretty hard to screw them up. And there are no meltdowns sparked by frustration, as can be the case when a toddler can’t get a Duplo brick to connect.
What’s even better is that the magnetic tiles play well across different ages: My 4-year-old makes rhinos and rockets, while my 18-month-old just enjoys clicking random pieces together. And since they’re magnets, our fridge and dishwasher have been transformed into vertical playgrounds ⏤ which keeps them both close at hand while we cook supper. That said, the makers were also pretty smart to include wheels, so creations can easily go mobile.
One final hidden perk is that they’re nearly indestructible. I’ve always had an inner struggle: do I ask my kids to be gentle with their toys or just let them be kids? Now, when my son asks to smash his newly built skyscraper, I can say ‘go for it’ without worrying about pulling a plastic shiv out of his hand.
Now, there are a couple of small downsides to the tiles. For starters, there’s the infamous magnetic positive/negative thing that sometimes prevents them from stacking properly. Also, because they’re only being held together with the power of magnetism, your kid’s creations can be a bit flimsy. While LEGO blocks may sometimes seem impossible to pull apart, these guys often come off almost too easily.
In addition, there are a ton of different manufacturers and the compatibility between each is never really clear. So you really have to pay attention when buying additional sets or asking others to buy them as gifts. Also, they can get pricey. Still, they’re pretty remarkable in the grand scheme of things. They’re as much fun for toddlers as they are for older kids and unlike other blocks, they don’t hurt when you step on them. That alone is a win in my book. Now our post-daycare time isn’t filled with incessant whining or pleas for patience, and the only thing that snaps are these fun little tiles.