This Large-Scale Building Kit Helps Kids Learn About Engineering, Architecture, and Design Through Play

©. Rigamajig

The Rigamajig is a 263-piece large-scale building kit for children, which comes with no instructions or directions, but instead encourages kids to follow their own curiosity to learn about engineering, design, architecture, art, and science, through playing.

Sometimes kids learn best through free play, curiosity, and collaboration, and their imaginations can be sparked by just giving them the materials and free reign to create whatever they want. And now, thanks to a new kind of large-scale building kit, kids can get plenty of hands-on experience creating their own structures, machines, and inventions, learning about design and architecture and engineering at the same time.

Cas Holman, an industrial designer at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), was asked to design 'play opportunities' for Manhattan's High Line park in 2011, and her solution, described as a "popup playground" was realized in 2011 as the High Line Children's Workyard Kit.

After the success of that design, Holman re-tooled the kit so that it can be mass produced, and relaunched it as Rigamajig, a collection of planks, pulleys, wheels, nuts and bolts, and rope, which can be used to build all sorts of contraptions.

This product falls clearly in the category of things I wish I had when I was a kid, because even though LEGO, Erector sets, and TinkerToys are great platforms for learning through building and design, the Rigamajig offers a whole new scale of creation.

Rigamajig building kit

© Rigamajig

"Rigamajig is not about a finished product. It's the playful process. The collaborating. The tinkering. The soft and hard skills that are learned while kids are engaged in play. This is what learning can look like!" - Cas Holman

Instead of coming with an instruction booklet that outlines how to build specific contraptions, the guide booklet for teachers, parents, and educators gives tips on how to best utilize Rigamajig for their situation, as well as offering "Play Prompts" to spur children's imagination. The Play Prompts are less like directions than they are open-ended challenges, such as asking kids to build a contraption that can lift something, or to build the tallest structure with just 15 pieces, or to use Rigamajig to make a friend, and can help lead kids to not only creative inspiration, but also collaboration and experimentation.

The wooden pieces in Rigamajig are made from Baltic Birch Plywood (which is finished with a Hazardous Air Pollutant-free finish, the bolts and nuts are made from recycled nylon, and the kit comes with a 5 year limited warranty.