Some of the most successful things in life develop when we stick to the foundation, acknowledge the roots, and take a page from Christina Aguilera’s book and go Back to Basics.
Smarty Part sets, from Blip Toys, follows Christina’s lead of being inspired by old-school classics and promotes imaginative building with simple parts and pieces. These types of sets are classics for a reason, as they encourage kids to use critical-thinking and problem-solving skills while taking ordinary-looking blocks and creating a car or a wiener dog.
Smarty Parts pieces are lightweight and colorful, and include more than just blocks. There are connectors, joints, springs, and magnets that start the 75-piece Builder set, but there is also an Architect set with a 125 pieces, and an even bigger Engineer set of 200 pieces that adds wheels, axels, and cranes.
Each set comes with a booklet of a few different builds to jumpstart kids’ creativity. It gives an image of the build, and the suggested pieces to use to make it, but leaves room for little builders to substitute pieces to lead them to their own masterpiece. I started with a wiener dog and a horse, and decided to branch out and build my own camel and a Slinky dog.
If you want to take your creation apart to start building something new, be sure to twist the connector pieces, they will wiggle out of the blocks easier than just pulling on them. Please don’t use your teeth, five out of five dentists would not recommend. It seems that many of the builds only require kids to put the connector halfway through the holes, so it is easier to remove them later on.
The sets are recommended for ages 3 and up, but I would advise either parents watch over kids as they play, or wait until they’re a year or two older as some of the pieces are small and could be a choking hazard. As kids grow with these sets, they can challenge themselves by thinking outside the booklet when building, all while doing a little unplugged STEM play.