The Secret Building Toy Our Oldest Likes Better Than LEGO!

Jul 19, 2019

There's more to building toys than basic blocks and LEGO. Our oldest child started with this toy at age four and is still building with it five years later!

What in the world could it be? It's called: ZOOBs. I found them on super sale a few years ago and I kind of bought them on a whim. But what was surprising to me was how much our son absolutely loved them. He would lie in bed for hours and build.

What makes them unique is the pieces that you use to build. They have five different pieces that join together in different ways, a few with round balls on one end. What you can do is join these pieces together in different ways to make toys that can move and swing and have a rotation in all sorts of directions.

ZOOBs are perfect for preschool to early elementary kids. So ages four to ten. If you have a child who's under the age of four, it's not that they can't use them because as you can see the pieces are pretty big, but it takes a lot of small motor skills and strength to get them to click together. Once they're clicked they can rotate in all sorts of directions, which is really fun.

ZOOBs are like LEGOs in that they come in all sorts of different sets. We own a really giant set, I think it was 250 pieces. Then we also did one supplemental set that was cars, that came with wheels and another supplemental set that had the glow in the dark pieces. 

If you're just starting out getting a basic set is great and then you can kind of determine what your kids like to build and go from there and get the smaller sets that are based on what your kids like. Whether that be dinosaurs or different kinds of machines or cars or whatever. There's a whole variety of different sets that are offered.

ZOOBs are great because they allow the kids to think in 3D and it uses small motor skills, creative thinking, and you can see there's a lot that goes into making a piece like this. You have to really consider the different directions and dynamics of building a toy like a spaceship. It's really great for little brains!

Here's how to set up play if you have a young child:

Take all the ZOOBs out of their packaging and put them in a low bin like this where they can see all the pieces and easily grab them. This is the best way, just open-ended. You might sit down with your child the first time you offer this and show them how the pieces click together. Make a few things on your own, like a little cube to demonstrate what can be done. Then you can just walk away and hopefully your child will continue to play with them.

If you have an older child, it's still great to have in a bin like this, but then you also maybe want to show them the directions that come with it and say, "Why don't you see what you can make" and that way you can give them a couple of ideas of inspiration with having the directions there.

So let's go talk to our son and see what he likes about his ZOOBs.

"What I really like about ZOOBs is that you can build anything and there are so many ways to connect them."

"My favorite thing I built is a spaceship and in every set, it comes with directions. I wanted to be creative and I made some parts a bit different and it's more wobbly but I wanted to be creative and grow my brain."

"Another creation that I built is a really long snake. It's really long and it's made out of red pieces and it is really long and at the end of the tail, I made a grabber thingy."

"When I got the car set it came with 18 wheels. I wanted to build an 18-wheeler truck, but I didn't have enough pieces and it looked really hard and so I just decided not to. I built a motorcycle, but when you make it zoom, or when you push it, it gets uneven and it always falls down and stuff. So I made this car so it doesn't fall and if it gets flipped, like someone hits the wheel, it will just turn over and it'll keep driving."

Next on his wish list is the set that allows him to create a remote control car. ZOOBs can last for many years!

If you have a child who is pretty creative and gets the toy right away, you probably don't have to do anything else and they'll play with it for a long time like our oldest son did. If you have a child who is not really getting into the toy and you need to help them with that, ask questions to keep the play going. 

"What kind of animal could you make?" 

"What would happen if you made the tail a little bit longer?"

"Could you make a car?"

"How could you make something that moves?"

Spark their imaginations with questions and that will help them keep playing longer.

I know it's not a common toy, but we actually have liked it more than LEGOs in this house until recently. Our youngest loves LEGOs, but our older kids love this much more. So give it a try and I'd love to hear how it goes.

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