“The value of constructive play as a factor of development is an unworked educational mine” Edgar James Swift, 1917
In Manual training — Play problems; constructive work for boys and girls based on the play interest, William S. Marten extols the virtues of constructive play (basically building stuff from tops to ‘roller coasters’). In keeping with Victorian notions of play as an element of social control and reform, constructive play is said to counter ‘destructive play’ tendencies.
Our philosophy of play has changed since then, but the illustrations and how-tos in the book for playful items like kaleidoscopes, spinning tops, swings, stilts and slingshots are charming, and Marten’s recommendation of collecting scrap materials for constructive play prefigures the adventure playground as well as the modern idea of the Scrap Store (which I wish I saw on more playgrounds!).
See the whole book at the PublicDomainReview, original source the Library of Congress, and thanks to Chris for the tip!