Tegu magnetic wooden blocks have existed in my peripheral vision for a few years now, but it’s never been the right time to pull the trigger and actually try them out.
Did we really need more?
Also: the price. It’s admittedly a tough one to swallow when casually scrolling the Interweb for educational toys.
Now that we’ve personally tested our own Tegu magnetic wooden block set (a huge one, at that), I can confidently say there are a lot of things we love about these colorful magnetic wooden blocks. (The price is still not one of those things, but I do understand it more now that we’ve actually played with them).
Finally, we decided to pull the trigger on and we invested in a big set of Tegu blocks for our house.
We bought a classroom set, because not having enough blocks to really let your imagination and engineering run wild really drives me up the wall. If you want your children to build, give them enough stuff to build with!
Go big or go home, right?
Now that we’ve played with our Tegu blocks and put them through the ringer, I see the merit in starting with smaller sets, especially for smaller children, and growing your collection as your littles grow.
Since my daughter is 4.5 and starting Kindergarten this year, I think the bigger set was the right call for us, as many older kiddos will benefit from the wider possibilities of having more blocks to work with, and I think it could last last us for years.
Below, I go into our detailed Tegu block review. I’ve tried to go over what Tegu building blocks are, what I see as the pros and cons of these wooden blocks for children, who I think would love Tegu blocks the best, and some of our best Tegu blocks ideas after testing and playing with them.
If you’d rather start shopping for Tegu, you can find all sorts of sets on Amazon.
What are Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks?
Unlike “normal” wooden blocks for kids, Tegu blocks have magnets in the ends of each block that allows them to stick together (and in turn, build more complex structures, as well defy gravity for at least a little while while building up, out, backwards, and forwards).
Surprisingly, the blocks look like normal wooden blocks, and there’s no visible sign of how the company actually gets a magnet into each block. They each just look like a solid piece of wood (natural or tinted with their Tegu tints color schemes).
This is actually awesome for younger littles, since you don’t need to worry about magnets coming dislodged and becoming a choking hazard or swallowing hazard to the littlest kiddos who may put random objects in their mouths. (Unless, of course, the blocks get really damaged somehow – worth checking your set to make sure everything is in good order if you do have littles around).
It also makes Tegu blocks an easier choice for families with one or more big kids and one or more little-and-still-putting-everything-in-their-mouth kids.
All Tegu blocks are meant to work with one another, so you’ll never ended up with wasted blocks that don’t work with an add on set for example. The core Tegu magnetic wooden blocks you’ll find in the sets include:
- “Candy Bars”
- Planks (Short, Long and Mega)
- Columns (Short and Long)
- Angles (Short, Long and Triangle)
Not all sets have all types of blocks – for example, our kit didn’t have any candy bars or parallelograms.
My Tegu Block Review: What I Love About Tegu Blocks
The STEM Learning
As you start fiddling with Tegu blocks – especially when you set out to engineer structures, vehicles, figurines, etc – you quickly experience some core engineering and science concepts simply by messing around, trying to get your creation to work.
A lot of this comes down to the nature of block play for children.
However, some of it is directly related to how Tegu blocks are designed to work: with the magnet only allowing the blocks to connect in specific ways and sides (which is different from something like Picasso Tiles or Magformers, which have magnets on all sides).
Because the magnets aren’t 360 degrees around the blocks, you have to figure out how to place them just so, so they all stick together. You also have to consider weight, scale, using opposing forces to your advantage, and balancing the load so everything stays up.
We experienced this first hand building a helicopter (see below under Ideas) out of our Tegu magnetic wooden blocks, as well as our race car (see further below) and the stairs on our house (pictured).
It took some fiddling to find the perfect block combo to allow the helicopter to stand, and figure out the right size and weight for the race car spoiler, for example.
This is doubly so if you want your creation to actually work in some way. Obviously we didn’t build a flying helicopter, but we did manage to get our race car to scoot across the kitchen floor.
They Offer a Great Lesson in How Magnets Work
Right off the bat when you start playing with your Tegu magnetic wooden block set, you’ll notice some serious polarity happening with the magnets.
When we first started fiddling with them, I found this a bit frustrating. But once we actually got into it, trying to construct and build with Tegu toys, I realized this is all part of the Tegu experience.
Figuring out how the magnets work together, how the opposing poles interact, and how to place the blocks “just so” to make it all work is part of the fun (and STEM learning).
Tegu Magnetic Blocks Let Kids Overcome Gravity With Their Creations
Our other set of really good wooden building blocks are the Lovevery blocks. After playing with Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks, I feel like Lovevery wooden blocks are awesome for the 18 months to 4-year-old age range, whereas Tegu blocks are great once children graduate from their Lovevery blocks.
Our Tegu set lets us build more challenging structures. For example, you can build a tower that’s taller than a four-and-a-half-year-old!
You can as also try to build using patterns and inspiration we found online (thank you, Pinterest!), rather than free play only (although, Tegu magnetic wooden blocks are definitely suitable for free play, too).
You Have to Struggle With Them A Bit
The polarity of the magnets is real, and as you build and add new magnetic wooden blocks to your creation, it sometimes messes with the polarity of the existing magnetic blocks that are already in use.
Blocks that were previously sitting straight start to drift onto an angle, for example.
This takes patience and a strong willingness to keep working and figure it out. Fiddling, testing, fixing, and adjusting are all required, which is an excellent way to encourage patient problem solving amongst your kiddos.
As Tegu says on their own site: “working with the polarity of the magnets on the fly is a fun challenge; it generates more critical thinking and educational opportunities than you might expect, and critical thinking is good!”
After playing with these in our house, I agree with this.
Unexpected Use: Tangrams
I love myself a good 2-in-1, and was surprised to get that with our Tegu blocks.
I was expecting it to be an all building/constructing toy, but actually they are awesome for tangrams, too.
Our 4.5 year old is currently obsessed with tangrams, and it’s a constant family activity at home. I’ve been considering buying the Melissa and Doug pattern blocks and boards because of her obsession.
Getting building blocks and pattern blocks as a two-in-one? An unexpected but very pleasant bonus!
Tegu is an Environmentally and Socially Responsible Company
Started by two brothers, Tegu is on a mission to improve the lives and economic outcomes of their chosen manufacturing home of Honduras.
So what does that mean in practice, and how does buying Tegu support that mission?
- Living wage for all 200+ factory employees in Honduras, with career growth opportunities
- Sustainably harvested wood purchased from Honduran co-op farmers
- The blocks are primarily made with a local-to-Honduras hardwood known as Huesito, which is harvested sustainably, and isn’t endangered. They also make use of limited sustainably harvested Mahogany.
- The company has strong control over their entire supply chain, since they manufacture themselves and work with the tree farmer co-ops directly. This helps to ensure everything is made responsibly, but also safety when it comes to the materials used that your kids will come into contact with when playing. I see the benefit of this when compared to toys that come out of a mystery factory when it comes to worrying about things like lead, phthalates, and VOCs from finishes (Tegu uses water based lacquers on the wood as a finish).
You can actually visit the Tegu toys factory in Honduras, if you happen to be in Tegucigalpa, which certainly says something to me about transparency and their commitment to responsible manufacturing!
It also explains the name: Tegu!
Cons of the Tegu Blocks
The price is the first thing that comes to mind, and I’ll admit I had to think long and hard before committing to buying these (Tegu didn’t have anything to do with this post: we bought the blocks ourselves).
It’s definitely a “pay for quality” toy, similar to the Lovevery blocks and kits. And, like Lovevery, Tegu really seems to hold its value when it comes time to sell them, as well as hold up to abuse from multiple children.
The other con is the frustration factor around the magnetic poles. For older children (like 5 and up), I think this is a feature, not a bug, for the reasons explained above (learning, tinkering, experimenting, problem solving).
But for younger littles, I can see how they would get frustrated if they have a specific vision in mind for building.
I think these are great for little ones if they’re just experimenting, without wanting to really build something. But if you have a tower builder that’s under 4 or so, I’d probably suggest the Lovevery Blocks first, and then graduate to Tegu once they have outgrown Lovevery’s block set.
Which Tegu Magnetic Wooden Block Set Should You Buy?
As I mentioned above, we decided to rip the bandaid off and decided to buy a massive Tegu magnetic wooden block set all at once…we bought the 130-piece classroom set.
Our daughter is 4.5 years old, is starting Kindergarten this year, and is starting to outgrow some of the other building blocks we’ve had up to now. She also LOVES tangrams, and while I didn’t think about it at the time, Tegu toys are actually awesome for making tangrams, either by following patterns online or using your own imagination.
I expect these blocks will last us about 3 years (maybe longer, depending on her interests), so I didn’t mind opening the wallet and treating these as an investment toy. However, I also recognize not every family will feel that way.
After actually playing with our Tegu magnetic wooden block set over the holidays and New Year, I now absolutely see the merit in starting out by buying a smaller set, and then growing it as your kids grow.
- For the youngest kids (ages 1 and up), consider getting a 6-piece set, an 8-piece set, or a 14-piece set. These kids will most likely use them for banging together and stacking, and will accidentally discover the polarity of magnets along the way. While Tegu says their blocks are for ages 1 to 99+, I think it’s best to keep it super simple for the youngest toddlers in terms of how many blocks you provide them. Tegu also makes specific sets that are tailored towards super young kids, including their Magnetic Shape Train, their Magnetic Racer Car, their Stacker, and their Baby’s First Blocks set.
- For pre-schoolers, I would recommend a slightly larger set (14-piece or 24-piece) or their “tangram” style sets, such as the kitty, hummingbird, jet, or spaceship, or a themed set, such as the Robot or Monster.
- For Kindergarten aged kids and older, I’d suggest a larger set – 24-piece, 42-piece or more – Tegu makes large sets in 90-pieces, 130-pieces, and 240-pieces, too. At this stage, many kids will be able to build without getting too frustrated with the polarity of the magnets, especially when working with an older kid or an adult. They also may be interested in following patterns found online to either build something or create tangram-style pictures from the blocks in their set.
- If you’re heading off on a trip and need something to keep the kids busy on the plane or in your hotel room, consider the Tegu wooden block sets for travel. They come in a handy pouch for storage, and are compact enough to slip in your carry on.
Tegu Blocks Ideas
Tegus are awesome to use without instruction manuals, so really you can just dump them out on your playroom floor and let your littles start building.
However, they’re also quite fun when you have a pattern or model you want to follow and emulate.
Below, you can see some of our creations, which we found by searching Tegu ideas on Pinterest. Many of the ideas come from the Tegu Pinterest account. We’ve tried building them ourselves, and often made modifications to work with the blocks we have and our skill level (which, apparently, is not as high as whoever is building these things for Tegu themselves!).
To get inspired for our tangrams, we simply searched online for tangram ideas, and then tried to model our Tegu blocks tangrams after them!
Clearly, Tegu blocks are a premium product, and the price tag isn’t for everyone. If you have a little builder in your life, however, they’re awesome, and should last a good long while, with good resale value once you’re done with them.