Architecture Gifts for Kids

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Architecture Gifts for Kids

I am a Licensed Architect, but more importantly I am also Professor of Architecture to 3rd graders.

In Portland Oregon we have a fantastic program called Architects in Schools that places design professionals in Portland Elementary Schools. Doing this program is one the highlights of my year. I essentially answer a million questions the kids have about being an Architect. After that's out of the way, we draw, build and make cool stuff. It's 10 times more fun talking to children about architecture, then it is talking to adults.

I wanted to share some of the fantastic toys and books that I have become aware through my experieince teaching children about architecture and design.

This blog post is broken down into 3 different sections:

If you would like to jump down the page to that section, just click the link above

Make sure you also check out some of the other Young Architect Gift posts:

PLAYING – Architecture Themed Toys 


American Landmarks
American Landmarks: Miniature Models to Cut and Assemble
by Matt Bergstrom

$11 on Amazon
Nowadays origami isn’t just for pterodactyls; it’s also for your favorite American Architecture. The pages of this book are cutout and folded into small-scale American landmarks with the help of some glue.

ArchiQuest Modern & Post-Modern Architecture Building Blocks
by T.S. Shure 

$99 on Amazon
ArchiQuest takes the concept of playing with blocks and turns into a technique for actually learning about styles of architecture. This detailed block set includes over 100 wooden blocks and a solid-wood storage box. And if you’re intrigued by this concept, ArchiQuest also produces numerous other building block sets.

Lego Architecture
LEGO Architecture Studio 21050 Playset

$160 on Amazon
In the past few years LEGO has really enbraced creating great products for people interested in architecture. With this rather extraordinarily innovative LEGO set, you can test the waters by actually simulating what it’s like to be in an architecture studio. And don’t forget to check out some  of LEGO’s other architectural learning products, including Villa Savoye and Fallingwater.

3 doodler
3Doodler 3D Printing Pen
by 3Doodler

$99 on Amazon
Imagine being able to draw 3D objects in the air? Well, now you can. This toy is basically free hand 3D printing in a pen. Take the line right off the page and into the air!  This special printing pen boasts 50 strands of plastic, 10 colors, 2 speeds, 2 temperature settings, a quick warm-up time, and a multicolor LED indicator.

Cheerson CX-10a
A Mini Drone

$17 on Amazon
2015 was the year of the Drone. Never has owning a drone been more accessible than it was this year. If you have a kid in your life you really should be getting them a mini drone this year for Christmas and also one for yourself.

In 2015, I purchased a $500 drone, a $100 drone, and several $20 drones. After tons of messing around, the big conclusion I have arrived at is that the smaller, cheaper drones are actually the most fun to fly—especially indoors! I chase my dog with it.

I’ve tried several small drones, and my favorite so far is the Cheerson CX-10a. This is my official office drone; it’s perfect for flying around conference rooms and across the office.

A $20 drone definitely has a lifespan to it. Basically, the more you crash it, the shorter its life is. Nevertheless, each time I have killed a Cheerson CX-10a, I have gotten well worth my $20 of entertainment from it.

Quick tip: I highly recommend using the dorky-looking propeller-protection covers to extend the life of the Cheerson CX-10a.

K'NEX Sky Sprinter Roller Coaster Building Set
by K'NEX

$89 on Amazon
What could be a cooler, more exciting way of learning about architecture, engineering, and aerodynamics than building your own roller coaster? This building set includes almost 800 pieces and stands over 7 feet tall. And if you like this set, you’ll also want to check out the numerous other sets available from K'NEX.

Arckit Arckit 60: 220+ Piece Kit
by Arckit

$129 on Amazon
Have you ever put together an architectural model and wished you could easily take it apart, add onto it, or rebuild it? With Arckit, now you can. Not only can you quickly and easily reuse the 220 pieces in this set, there’s also an add-on system. The kit also includes building techniques to base your models on.

empire state building
Empire State Building 3D Jigsaw Puzzle, 975-Piece

$34 on Amazon
Who doesn’t love the greatest symbol of the ever-impressive architecture of NYC? If you also love jigsaw puzzles, then this is an excellent way to learn about the construction of the building in detail. And WREBBIT even offers a way to solve the most challenging thing with kids and puzzels: replacing missing pieces! Brilliant!

Construction Fort 72pc Build & Play
by Discovery Kids

$23 on Amazon
When you were a kid, did you always try to build a fort out of your bedding, but you got frustrated when it fell down? Now there’s an easy way to solve that problem for your kids. This set includes 72 pieces (rods and custom connectors), so they can build forts, playhouse, and castles that won’t fall down.

The LEGO Ideas Book
by Daniel Lipkowitz

$14 on Amazon
It can be easy to forget that you don’t actually need to buy a full-out playset to build something with LEGOs. You don’t even need the directions. All you need is ideas, and this book is full of them.

READING – Kids Books About Architecture

Roberto, The Insect Architect
by Nina Laden

$14 on Amazon
I hope my design isn’t bugging you. Of course, insects like ants are famous for their ability to lift comparatively enormous objects and build structures. Now that trait has been personified in the form of Roberto, your friendly neighborhood insect architect. This story shares Roberto's trials and tribulations of coming up as a Young Architect in the profession.

Iggy Peck
Iggy Peck, Architect
by Andrea Beaty

$9 on Amazon
Like most architects, Iggy Peck has a creative passion for building that he can't control. This book could be a fun way to articulate the passion of design to kids.

Architecture According to Pigeons
by Speck Lee Tailfeather

$16 on Amazon
Now you can literally get a bird’s eye view of the great buildings of the planet. This delightful book reveals that pigeons don’t hang out on rooftops to get in the way of window washers; they’re actually fans of architecture. This is a fun way for young kids to be able to identify the names of structures around the globe.

david macauly
David Macaulay's Architecture Books for Kids

About $10 on Amazon
Macaulay is a prolific, award-winning author whose books span a wide a variety of architectural styles and topics. The titles are both brilliantly simple and self-explanatory: Castle, Pyramid, and Underground. If your kids like his work, you might want to check out some of his other books, as two of his pieces are actually about anatomy: The Way We Work and The New Way Things Work.

IF i built a house
If I Built a House
by Chris Van Dusen

$11 on Amazon
As adults, it can be easy to forget how limitless the imagination can actually be. This book could help unlock your kids’ imaginations (and their ambitions), as they can start to think now about what they’d want to include in their dream house.

13 architects
13 Architects Children Should Know
by Annette Roeder

$11 on Amazon
If you’re frustrated by increasing limitations of contemporary education, don’t forget that you can participate in what they know. For instance, many people grow into adulthood without knowing who Frank Lloyd Wright is. But you can prevent that from happening by making sure they read this book. And similarly checkout the follow up book, 13 Buildings Children Should Know.

Young Frank
Young Frank, Architect
by Frank Viva

$12 on Amazon
This book contemplates the ways different generations have approached architecture. Young Frank (millenial) and his dad Old Frank (baby boomer) are both architects, but they don’t always agree on things.

SKy HIgh
Sky High
by Germano Zullo

$15 on Amazon
In this book about competition, the sky’s the limit, and the only way to win is up. This book could be a great way to teach your kids about the pitfalls of keeping up with the Joneses. Remember what happened to King Midas after he got his wish?

DRAWING – Architecture Toys Based Around Drawing

Draw 50 buildings
Draw 50 Buildings and Other Structures
by Lee J. Ames

$6 on Amazon
This book teaches the fundamentals of architectural drawings as they learn how to draw castles, cathedrals, and other great structures.

Fantastic Cities
Fantastic Cities: A Coloring Book of Amazing Places Real and Imagined
by Steve McDonald

$11 on Amazon
I recently purchased several copies of this book for friends of all ages. This fascinating coloring book is very reminiscent of a wheres waldo book about architecture. Bust out the colored pencils! The exceptional illustrations of cityscapes will keep everyone  entertained for hours.

Alvin BDK-1E Kit-beginners Dftg Engineering
by Alvin

$37 on Amazon
This is the perfect beginners kit and has everything needed for new drafters of any age to get started. It includes an architectural scale, a mesh bag, a cross-section practice pad, a compass, a divider, and a triangular ruler. Anyone considering a future in architecture will need tools to learn the required skills.

Drawing Board
Portable Drawing Board with Aluminum Parallel Straightedge
by Alvin and Company

$65 on Amazon
Back to the drawing board. This tool is not only portable, it has an aluminum parallel straightedge. And includes metal side brackets that accommodate various materials, an underwire system that keeps the blade parallel regardless of where it located on the board, and an inking edge. I used this very exact drawing board for the first 3 years of architecture school.

Tracing paper
An Architect's Roll of Tracing Paper

$12 on Amazon
When I teach architecture to 3rd graders, we do a fun tracing paper activity.  I have each student pick a picture of a cool building, lay a sheet of tracing paper over it, give them some pencils and have them trace the building. I then photocopy the tracing paper onto real paper and then have the color in the drawing.  Kids love drawing on tracing paper.

This tracing paper comes in different sizes for all of your tracing needs. Whether you need 20 x 12, 20 x 24, 50 x 12, or even 50 x 36, Bienfang can accommodate you.

architectural graphics ching
Professor Francis Ching Books about Drawing 

Prices vary on Amazon
Every Architect uses Francis Ching books during architecture school to learn how to draw, and they are perfect for a child interested in architecture and learning how to draw like an architect. This prolific author’s work includes Design Drawing, Architectural Graphics, and Drawing: A Creative Process.

Make sure you also check out some of the other Young Architect Gift posts:


Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect, and the creator of Young Architect, an online platform and community dedicated to helping the next generation of Architects become the most successful generation of Architects. 
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Hi there!

I’m Michael Riscica, the guy behind Young Architect. I write to help Architecture Students, ARE Candidates and Young Architecture Professionals be more successful at school, work and life!


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