For decades, building blocks have been the go-to toy for children. This teaches them everything from counting, color recognition, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and thinking skills.
The huge success of these relatively simple toys is that it can be easily manipulated into any shapes or structures that their imagination can come up with.
As with every other aspect of children’s toys, building blocks are seen as an old fashioned toy. Children’s construction toys have developed at an amazing pace as technology arises to support them.
Magnetic tiles whichever brand you decide on are one of these new generations of construction toys. They provide open-ended play opportunities for children.
Children are introduced to STEM subjects from a very young age, and they have very few limits due to how they come together to create amazing structures.
In this article
- Buying Guide
- About Picasso Tiles & Magna Tiles
- PicassoTiles 100 Piece Set
- Picasso Tiles 100 Piece Race Car Track
- Magna Tiles Metropolis 110 Piece Set
- Magna-Tiles Clear Colors 100 Piece Set
- Other Brands
- Can you use different brands of tiles with each other?
- What variations are there in pieces of a set?
- What age child are these best suited to?
- Are there instructions in any of the Magna Tiles sets?
- What kind of plastic are Picasso Tiles made from?
- Do the Picasso Tiles set come with a manual showing what you can build?
- The Final Thought
There is such a huge range of products available for us to choose from. It often feels like a minefield. There are so many things to consider and we’re never quite sure as parents if we get it right. Most of us are just winging it!
It’s so difficult to know if a product is a good quality toy. There is nothing worse than buying a toy and it falling apart after 5 minutes due to the poor quality of materials.
Here is our buying guide that can be applied to most toys that you will want to purchase now and in the future.
About Picasso Tiles & Magna Tiles
If you’re not familiar with magnetic tiles, let me give you a quick rundown. There are a few different brands that now made this kind of construction toy, they’re all a little different from each other but fundamentally have the same basic design.
The main difference between Magna Tiles and Picasso Tiles is their construction and this then leads on to their endurance level.
The Picasso tiles are joined together using glue which means that they can potentially come apart under pressure. Magna Tiles have metal rivets at multiple points and are much longer-lasting as they do not break under light pressure.
Another element of these kinds of tiles is the color of the plastic that ranges from neon hues to the more standard colors.
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Of course, the last component in any magnetic tiles is the magnets. This is what allows them to not only stick together but also allows your children to make amazing structures.
The magnets are placed inside the layers of plastic. There are multiply magnets in each shape so that they can be joined together in a variety of different shapes.
Many children’s toys are made out of plastic and there is not a wooden alternative to it. Plastic is not the demon it is made out to be, but there are a few things that you need to check before you buy any plastic toys.
The highest quality plastic is one that does not contain bisphenol A, but this is why it makes it an expensive material to make toys out of.
Another thing that you may want to consider is that the plastic will come under constant stress and strain and general wear and tear.
This does mean that under strain, it might break. It can become a potential hazard, especially when there are very small magnets enclosed in the plastic.
All the products that we have discussed are made from different grades of plastic and you would need to check that they are approved by the appropriate authorities.
You would also need to check if they can withstand the stress and strain of children playing with them.
The range of colors on these types of magnetic tiles does not come from paint. Instead, it is the actual plastic that is colored. It is very unlikely that there any transfer of color or chemicals involved in the coloring process.
However, when purchasing any toys, you should check that any colors used are safe for humans that means they would need to be non-carcinogenic.
The only way of joining these tiles together is through the use of very small magnets inside the layer of plastic. Without good quality magnets, there is no way that these toys can be used as intended, to build large structures and diverse shapes.
Unfortunately, these kinds of magnetic toys have received some bad press after a child swallowed some of the tiny magnets and became gravely ill.
It is advised that younger children are very closely supervised when using these kinds of toys that contain magnets. It would also be advised that toys are checked regularly for any signs of wear and tear that may make them potentially hazardous.
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STEM toys are any toy that can encourage children towards subjects such as science, technology, engineering, and Maths. These kinds of toys are used to help children problem solve and think outside of the box.
They can also promote teamwork and positive associations with these subjects, especially for girls who are seriously underrepresented in such subjects.
One of the major differences between Magna Tiles and Picasso Tiles is the price. Magna Tiles are more quite significantly more expensive than Picasso Tiles.
The lower cost of Picasso Tiles will attract those parents on a budget and so they will appear to be more popular than their more expensive counterparts.
Magna Tiles are more expensive because they offer a better quality product. They are more likely to be durable and withstand the abuse of being constantly being played with.
My advice would be that if you can afford to pay the higher price fo Magna Tiles, you will not be disappointed.
But if you are happy to more closely supervise your children while they play with this kind of construction toy and your budget is fixed then the Picasso Tiles will be a great choice.
PicassoTiles 100 Piece Set
Picasso Tiles are a fantastic example of a STEM toy. Children can be introduced to subjects such as engineering, maths, science, and technology.
These tiles have magnets in them so they’re super easy for even little hands to manipulate and use. Creations can be made as large as they want by simply adding more tiles.
This set comes with 100 pieces which include 8 large squares, 46 small squares, 10 small triangles, 12 medium triangles, and 14 large triangles all in various colors.
They are suitable for children aged 3 plus but my 2-year-old has used a similar product without any issues at all. The tiles are colorful which children love. They also teach children about geometric shapes and creative architectural play.
- A good variety of shapes and colors
- They have magnets for easy assembly
- They promote STEM subjects
- Encourage creativity and problem-solving skills
- Magnets are not very strong
- Structures do not stay together making designs very fragile
Picasso Tiles 100 Piece Race Car Track
This set is slightly different in that the purpose of the set is to build a race track. The set comes complete in order to do so including 2 flashing LED race cars. Batteries are not included.
The set includes 20 quarter round turns, 18 square track tiles, 36 supporting columns, 4 rectangular track tiles, 4 equilateral triangles, 4 isosceles triangles, 6 slopes, 2 LED light-up cars, 4 street signposts, and 2 quarter round.
This set is great as it really encourages problem-solving thinking in order to build various vehicle tracks.
- Excellent for developing STEM skills
- Package includes race cars
- It also comes with street signs, slopes etc
- No batteries included for the vehicles.
Magna Tiles Metropolis 110 Piece Set
Magna Tiles are tiles with magnets in it. These magnets stick together for you to construct anything you can imagine from skyscrapers to Ferris wheels.
This set consists of 110 neon pieces including a spinner, windows, quarter circles, and more. These are great for introducing STEM skills to children from a very young age.
STEM is the introduction of science, technology, engineering, and maths to equip all students with scientific thinking and the ability to problem-solve.
This set comes with 2 large squares, 56 small squares, 12 equilateral triangles, 12 right-angled triangles, 10 isosceles triangles, 2 wheeled chassis, 1 door, 1 rectangle, 2 stairs, 1 spinner, 6 windows, and 1 arch.
The range of different shapes gives lots of opportunities for children to let their imagination do the work and create beautiful and fun structures. As this set comes with the wheeled chassis, you can also create movable vehicles.
- Tiles are durable
- Easy to assemble even for little hands
- Enhance creativity
- Encourage the use of STEM subjects.
- Tiles are colorful
- This set comes with a range of shapes including some new ones
- More expensive than other similar products.
- You can only make larger structures with the tiles
Magna-Tiles Clear Colors 100 Piece Set
This is the original Magna Tiles set. It comes with 100 translucent colored shapes, 4 large squares, 50 small squares, 20 equilateral triangles, 11 right-angled triangles, and 15 isosceles triangles.
This set doesn’t come with the added shapes of the Neon set above, but it’s a great set for children to start off with. Another great set for introducing STEM skills to children from a young age.
These tiles do come up a little expensive but you get a good range of shapes, to begin with sparking hours of imaginative open-ended play.
- Support STEM subjects
- Encourage creativity and problem solving
- More expensive compared to other similar products
- Limited range of shapes in this set
- Only able to make larger structures
Picasso Tiles and Magna Tiles aren’t the only brands that have these amazing magnetic construction sets. Here are a few others that you may be interested in, all of which have the same basic principles but a slightly different design.
Mag-Genius Magnet Building Blocks 108 Piece Set.
This magnetic tileset is great for building geometric shapes and encouraging children to use their imagination to build in 3D. The set includes 108 pieces of various shapes from squares to triangles.
This set also comes with some nice bonuses of 2 magnetic cars that offer even more imaginative play options. The set comes in its own storage box so it can all be kept together neatly in one place.
Price-wise, this set is around the same price as the Picasso Tiles 100 piece set but it does come with the extra of the cars.
- Brightly colored
- Good selection of shapes
- An added bonus of two cars
- Magnets not lining up
- Not very strong once constructed
Magformers Creator Carnival Set
This set has a slightly different design in that the shapes have no centers. This set includes 46 pieces with 24 squares, 12 triangles, 2 hexagons, and 8 accessories.
It says it is recommended for age 3+ but my children have this set and absolutely love it. They were amazed when we built the Ferris wheel. They are aged 2 and 3 years old.
- Great for the introduction of STEM subjects.
- Colorful set
- Easy to use and manipulate even for small hands
- Quite expensive
- Small set
- Not as many opportunities for open-ended play.
Can you use different brands of tiles with each other?
Unfortunately, the pieces are often made in such a way that they’re only really compatible with parts from their own sets.
But you could use tiles from different brands to create anything you want. Though, they may not be as sturdy as if it was all made from the same brands. It’s better to keep the brands separate and just stick to one set at a time.
What variations are there in pieces of a set?
If you’re just starting out with magnetic tiles, the best set that you can purchase would be the one hundred piece set that is available in both brands.
These sets will give you the variety that you need to get you started. Although, sets do start from as small as twenty pieces and go up to sets that are hundreds of pieces.
What age child are these best suited to?
The recommended age is 3 to 10 years +, but my two-year-old loves them. They’re super easy for him to manipulate with his small hands and because they are magnetic they stick together quite easily.
Are there instructions in any of the Magna Tiles sets?
Magna-Tiles are designed for open-ended play so they leave it up to the child’s imagination as to what they build.
There are no instructions in the sets. If you would like to see some creations, you can email them at email@example.com and they are happy to assist you with your inquiry.
What kind of plastic are Picasso Tiles made from?
Picasso Tiles are non-toxic and made from transparent ABS plastic which is free of BPA, PVC, phthalates, lead, and heavy metals.
Do the Picasso Tiles set come with a manual showing what you can build?
The Picasso Tiles sets come with a manual to show you what you could make with your sets but the idea of these kinds of toys is to encourage open-ended play.
The Final Thought
Both of these brands are a great option if you’re thinking of purchasing magnetic tiles for the little one in your life. They won’t be disappointed with either set as they are both a great starting place.
If you’re on a tight budget and are happy to supervise your children while they use this construction set, the Picasso tiles are a great budget-friendly option.
If you are looking for something that is more durable and will last for many years and you are not on a budget then the Magna Tiles are the ones I would choose.