Let me first start off by saying magnetic tiles are THE number 1 played with toy in our house.
If there’s only ONE toy that I can recommend for children, it would hands down be this. NO COMPARISON!
They are never rotated away and have been out in our play area every single day since my firstborn was around 18mo. Because they are so incredibly open-ended as a toy, they are well-loved and are used by ALL 3 of my girls every single day in various ways (4yo, 2.5yo and 15mo at the time of writing this post). From construction play to imaginative play to homeschool activities and even fine motor activities for the youngest.
Click here to read about the 10 favourite ways my children use our magnetic tiles
What we have in our collection
Our collection consists of a set of 100-piece Magnatiles, 150-piece Playmags (that comes with cars) as well as a 62-piece set of Connetix tiles.
All three brands are compatible with each other and work well together when constructing.
Brand comparison (features)
In terms of magnet size, whilst playmags and connetix tiles are comparable, magnatiles are clearly smaller.
In terms of magnet strength and quality, Playmags and Connetix are definitely the strongest and most durable of the 3.
The only difference between Playmags and Connetix comes down to aesthetics, whether you prefer the translucent look or the lined look.
A common concern with the Connetix tiles being so clear is that since it does not have bracings around the edges and in the middle, is it less strong perhaps?
The answer is no, and this is because of their unique beveled design which adds to their strength.
My Honest Opinion of Playmags vs Connetix
Personally when we’re indoors where it’s slightly darker or in a shady place, I love the look of the translucent Connetix because of how much light it allows through.
But when we are exploring light and shadow outdoors or near a window with natural light, I love the lined shadows that Playmags create and when used together with Connetix, they result in such interesting compositions which lead to amazing observations and conversations with my older girls.
Playmags comes with Click-Ins and 26 alphabet letters (13 double sided pieces) which click in 😆. However my girls don’t use them as often as I thought they would when we first purchased it, mostly preferring to use the squares, triangles and gates instead.
It could be because of their age but even when they attempt to spell their names or words with the letters, they get frustrated because there’s only 1 of each letter and sometimes even that doesn’t work because of the double sides.
But having said that, I do like having them around as opportunities for authentic literacy learning when it does happen, though at the same time, I also wonder if I’d rather just have more pieces that my children DO actually use more 😂🤷🏻♀️
Now that you have a better idea of the similarities and differences between the different popular brands out there, I’d like to take the opportunity to answer a couple of questions I’ve received with regards to magnetic tiles to help you make an informed purchasing decision 🙂
How old before my bubs can play with it?
My 15mo is capable of adding pieces to existing structures. But basically, since about 8mo, she’s been exploring with the magnetic properties of these tiles, pulling two pieces apart and joining them again, rinse and repeat.
I already have wooden blocks and LEGO pieces. Should I still invest in magnetic tiles?
Such a great question 🙂
In my opinion yes!
Magnetic tiles are honestly the favourite/most used construction material in our household at this point in time where we have a pre-schooler and two toddlers because of how easy it is to construct and build with.
It comes together and comes apart easily unlike something like duplo or lego which requires more precision and developed fine motor skills.
Constructions are also more likely to remain intact as compared to wooden blocks for instance where the slightest movement or a block that’s not put properly could easily send an entire construction to come crashing down.
Additionally, it’s not just a construction toy. My girls use it to experiment with colour, light and shadow…
As well as to explore and experiment with its magnetic properties 🙂
I honestly could go on and on but I’m sure you get the point. Maybe one day, I’ll write a book on “101 ways to play with magnetic tiles” 🙂
Encouraging more play (we only have about 60) Do we need more?
In my opinion, I believe that to truly get the most out of them, if you have the budget for it, to go with a minimum of 100 pieces (even if you have just the 1 child). More pieces mean more flexibility, more scope – more creativity.
I don’t sell these toys so it doesn’t benefit me at all to ask you to buy more, it’s just my honest opinion 🙂
Is it safe for 2 years old? Will the magnets come off easily?
My first born was introduced to these at 18mo, my 2nd and 3rd born both had access to this since they could crawl at around 6 months and we’ve never had any occurrences of magnets coming off.
That said, I only speak for the brands of Magnetic tiles, Playmags and Connetix because those are the brands we’ve got.
Will a 2 yr old be able to build with it independently?
Yes, definitely. But with every open-ended toy out there, it takes time for them to develop the skills and the familiarity with the toy to see the endless potential and possibilities. They’ll start off creating simple structures but with practice and time they begin to build quite elaborate creations. As I always say, play, particularly open-ended play is a learned skill.
What age would you recommend them? 2yo girl?
If you only have the one child now, I’d say anything from 18mo and beyond is perfect. They might not be building elaborate structures at the start, but they can still explore the magnetic properties of the tiles and enjoy colour sorting. Those were the activities my firstborn really enjoyed when I introduced it to her at around 18mo.
For my subsequent children, they had access to these from the time they could crawl. They became familiar with how they worked at a young age and now my third born at 15mo is able to add and remove single pieces to existing structures without destroying the entire thing.
My lo is 13 months. He only breaks what I make. When will he learn to make something?
There is no magic age where a child will learn how to create instead of break. It all depends on the amount of exposure a child is given, and the developmental stage of the child.
At 13mo, it is absolutely normal for a child to destroy what you build. He’s processing cause and effect and figuring out his role in making that happen. I’d say encourage it!! It’s great for their development and helps them to make connections in their world.
When my third born was that age of constantly trying to destroy what her older sisters were building, I’d encourage her sisters to specifically create “Invitation to Destroy” for their sister so that she would leave their creations alone.
How important is it to add this in your child’s playroom?
I feel like only you can answer this question. Because I don’t know what is important to you. I will say that this is this the number 1 toy in our home and it will be the number 1 toy I’s recommend to anyone who asks me for recommendations because of how much use all 3 of my girls get out of it as well as the insane amount of learning they’ve experienced as a result 🙂
I’m just wondering if it’s still a worthwhile investment for my 6 and 8yo. They love building stuff with LEGO and Duplo, thought of getting something different but I’m wondering if they’ll grow out of it too soon?
Hmmm.. let’s just say my husband loves to play with it too 😉
I hope this blog post has given you a better idea of the similarities and differences between the 3 most popular magnetic tile brands in the market, as well as answered some of your commonly asked questions when it comes to deciding if it’s a worthwhile investment for your family. It is one of the best toy purchases we’ve ever made for our children and I hope this blog has helped you with making a decision.
To learn more about the different ways my children use our magnetic tiles, click here.
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so which you suggest i buy. i am trying to decide between the conetix and the playmag. the connetix is significatly more expensive then the connetix, so if the products are similar in magnetic strength then i would obviously go for the cheaper one. please recommend between the two
Both Playmags and Connetix tiles are similar in strength. The only difference is aesthetics, whether you prefer a more clear translucent look or not. If magnetic strength is your only concern, then you can most definitely get Playmags 🙂