Lego has evolved over the years from a mostly open-ended construction system that typified how we originally played with it, to more instruction oriented modeling sets with hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces to be put together "just so". There is a lot to be said for both approaches. The former emphasizes creativity, the latter attention to detail. Regardless, LEGO building builds patience and dexterity, while rewarding kids with creations that can be used as the jumping off point for further play.
If your youngster is more inclined to do-it-herself and less interested in following someone else's ideas, the LEGO Classic Large Creative Brick Box (LEGO $59.99) might be just the thing. With790 pieces in a giant lego brick storage case, it offers a true sandbox experience.
Kit builders, have a wide range of choices. Some of the best this year include LEGO CITY Main Square (LEGO $139) with over 1500 pieces to create the buildings and vehicles of an imaginary city. These can be combined with wooden blocks and train sets to create whole environments of play.
If you're looking for something less expensive, with a timely message of environmental consciousness, and a much easier build, the 183 piece LEGO Friends Olivia’s Electric Car (LEGO $14.99) includes the car, two female figures and a dog, as well as a play wind turbine and solar panel.
For my family, the Star Wars vehicles from LEGO have always been a favorite. The LEGO Star Wars Imperial Shuttle (LEGO $55.99) has been update for 2021 in a 660 piece kit. Its foldable wings and three action figures (including Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker) make this a coveted item.