I find myself always having a parenting book stashed away, and in my current arsenal is How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims. As I read through the undeniable statistics of the over-involved – sometimes referred to as a “helicopter parent” – it led me to reflect on the words that a very wise woman in the early months of my first pregnancy once told me: “Don’t be the entertainment center to your children.”

I think what she meant was, “Let kids be kids, like in the good ol’ days.” Allow them to explore and roam free (within safe confines of course), but most importantly allow them to feel comfortable simply playing with simple toys on the floor, using their imagination to build and create tiny worlds of fantasy.

This leads me to introduce you, if you haven’t already discovered them, to the magic of Magna-Tiles. These small square and triangular tiles, each magnetized so they stick together, aid in the building some of the largest towers and intense mazes of a young child’s imagination. These tiles are a perfect marriage of new-age and old-school; they’re simple building blocks made of plastic in bright colors.

I have witnessed my own two boys, ages 4 and 6, along with many of their friends, sit on the ground and build and create some seriously impressive landscapes for hours at a time. Price is a drawback for these tiles, and the starter kit only comes with 48 pieces (not enough in my opinion for the elaborate creations to which I am referring). The bonus is that you can add to their collections slowly over time for birthdays or anything celebratory. Ask grandparents, special friends and family to gift them as well. The more the merrier with the magna-tiles.

Part of the fun is the demolition, as the tiles come crashing down when it’s time for clean-up. And you can keep them neatly stored in one big basket!

The magic of these tiles reveals itself to parents in stressful times, such as during the holidays or when you need to get things done around the home and you don’t have time to entertain your children. Besides, they’re guilt-free because they’re a much better solution than plopping them in front of brain-cell-zapping TVs and iPads.

These tiles stretch their brains and enliven their imaginations. In a quote from Psychology Today, “Many brilliant individuals – from Einstein to Mozart – credit their imagination as the source of their creativity and genius. Einstein often compared his creative process to that of poets and musicians, describing his insights as ‘a sudden rapture.’ He famously said: ‘When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come close to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.’” Watching your own little Einstein’s imaginations come to life, what could be sweeter?

Just the Facts


Magnetic building tiles for children 3 and older “designed to hold a child’s interest and attention, build critical development skills and promote imaginative play and creativity.”  

Sets available in 32-, 48-, 52- and 100-piece sets in a variety of colors, in addition to “special items.”

Magna-Tiles are available for local purchase at Magic Box Toys (5508 Magazine St., 899-0117) or online at MagnaTiles.com (which has a store locator for other local locations) and Amazon.com