K'Nex are a plastic construction toy somewhat similar to Tinker Toys. The majority of pieces are rods of varying lengths or connectors. It is literally possible to build anything with these, from models of the Titanic to working ferris wheels.
You will almost certainly find that the basic sets have insufficient pieces. We built a small amusement park. We only completed three small rides before we ran out of pieces...we started with about 700.
Most of the pieces are small. 1000 K'Nex pieces would fit in a shoe box. Any large or complex project will require many thousands of pieces.
Fortunately, it is easy to start with a small set and add to it later.
All K'Nex sets come with explicit multi-colored directions for building the models. Of course, the sets can be used for building any device you can imagine.
There are a large number of K'Nex sets available. I've restricted my recommendations to basic building sets and specialized sets which I think provide maximal learning potential.
Children as young as 4 or 5 would enjoy building with K'Nex (my son does), but snapping the pieces together can be rough on the fingers after a while. Parental help may be required to snap some of the tougher pieces together.
K'Nex 50 Model Building Set
Manufacturer's age: 8 years and up
Editorial Review from Amazon.com
You might never stop building once you get your hands on the 50-model building set from K'NEX. This super value set includes pieces to build over 50 moving machines, creatures, and rides, plus a bonus battery-powered motor to set the models in motion. A 225-page instruction manual features step-by-step instructions for three levels of building: friendly, moderate, and greater, depending on your childís age and skill level. The color-coded rod-and-connector system and visual instructions make construction simple while teaching hand-eye coordination and planning skills, as kids build everything from a sea turtle to a racing car. The set's sturdy components can also be combined creatively to form unique original structures and designs, and are compatible with other K'NEX systems. When it's time to put them away, all the pieces fit nicely into the 17-by-12-by-6-inch blue plastic box with handle. Requires two AA batteries (not included) to operate the motor. -- N. Mered
K'Nex 400 piece Building Set
Manufacturer's age: 5 years and up
This basic set will build 25 models. A nice starter set.
Editorial Review from Amazon.com
You might never stop building once you get your hands on the Fun Tub set from K'NEX. This super value set includes 400 pieces, step-by-step instructions for over 30 models, and a bonus spring motor for building rides, vehicles, robots, and more. The color-coded rod and connector system and visual instructions make construction simple while teaching hand-eye coordination and planning skills. When it's time to put them away, all the pieces fit nicely into the 16-by-10-by-8-inch blue plastic tub. -- N. Mered
Based on the manufacturer's information, these sets look like they're overkill for home use, but they're not.
One of these sets might work for 12-16 students working in teams in a school setting, where the children are sitting at tables and are handed a limited number of pieces and directed to build a specific item.
One or two children converting the living room into a Lego or Playmobil amusement park will quickly run through several thousand pieces.
It isn't much fun when you have to tear apart the ferris wheel to be able to build the merry-go-round.
From the Manufacturer
Launch your children into the 21st century and explore new horizons and unknown worlds with the K'NEX Transportation Set. Learn about transportation as it relates to communities, technological advances and travel to the outer limits. The set includes 44 models of varying complexity on K'NEX print Activity Cards. Each card provides background information on the vehicle's origin, uses, form, and function. An Educator Guide is provided that is divided into four sections: land, air, sea, and space. The set contains over 800 K'NEX pieces, 3 motors, 56-page Educator Guide and a plastic storage tub.
Off-site links to related topics.
Official K'Nex website
Lessons and Ideas for K'nex, Legos, Lego Mindstorms, and Capsela
Lesson plans, curriculum, links.
Mathematics of K'Nex
An article on some ways to use K'Nex to explore geometry.
My suggestions for toys every home should have.
Dolls, furniture and accessories.
Pop-Up Tents and Toys
Legos, Duplos and Mega Bloks
The classic contruction toy -- interlocking plastic bricks.
Classic Brio train sets and accessories.
The Childís Toys and the Old Manís Reasons Are the Fruits of the Two seasons. - William Blake
©2000-2013 Barbara L.M. Handley