There are so many toys out there.
So just how do you know that this toy is the right toy for your beloved little son, daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, godchild, or grandchild?
Because we’ve done the work for you!
And the best part?
All these toys are from Amazon, they all have a 4+ rating from tons of reviews and most are available through prime shipping, so even if you are shopping at the very last minute, you might still be able to get them in time!
Many of these I gave to my own children. Some of these are “classic” enough that you may have played with them when you were a kid!
Editor’s Note: Also check out our other guides
Alright, here we go –
Gifts that Encourage Creativity
My youngest got this for his birthday from his aunt and now he carries it around with him like a briefcase. It has so many different things in it to create with. Crayons, markers, and colored pencils. Just add paper!
This is a cute set of 2-inch high figures that allows children to imagine their own baseball game. It comes with two teams, a field, and a scoreboard. This company has other highly rated kits similar to this but focusing on football, soccer, hockey and more. So, be sure to get the one that resonates the most with your little ones!
Costumes aren’t just for Halloween! Kids love to play dress up at any time of the year (and day). They allow children to become someone they admire and to take on those strengths and handle their weaknesses. These are just two examples of all the costumes you can buy.
I love these kits because they come with every thing you need to make your own jewelry. The clay comes in a ton of different colors and is soft enough to mold into anything you can imagine, and all the tools and instructions for making cute charms are included.
Cooking is a very creative activity. Some kids this age aren’t quite ready for making their own dishes, but they can make their own chocolate bars. This kit comes with the moulds, chocolate, fillings, and toppings that will ignite their creative side in a completely different way.
This is a great kit for a rainy afternoon. It even comes with the rock you want to paint! The bright and vibrant paints inspire kids to create their own rock friends. The paint is water-proof and so you can even decorate your garden with them.
This isn’t just a toy kit, it’s a memory kit. You can use your child’s hand or foot to create a lasting childhood memory. This was recommended by one of my friends who has one of these from all four of her kids. They decorate her garden and make her smile every time she sees it.
Is your kid into textures? This pottery wheel might be the right gift for them. They can take clay and use the wheel to make their very own, very professional-looking bowls, cups, and vases. It’s great for improving hand strength while they use their imaginations.
I see so many kids wearing these – especially during the summer. They can use so many different colors of embroidery thread to weave and tie them into really special bracelets. It also helps hone their fine motor control as well as exercises their empathy and the want to do something for others.
Weaving takes a lot of concentration and dexterity. It’s also a fun, meditative, and creative activity. Kids can use yarn or even scraps of cloth from old shirts to create vivid wall hangings or tote bags.
There was a phase where my sons were constantly coming home with bracelets, key chairs, and other objects made from rubberbands. And they were so creative! Your child can figure out new patterns and combine the colors in any way they want. And when they run out of ideas, there are thousands of tutorial videos on Youtube that they can look up. Plus it is awesome for honing their fine motor skills.
This is such a cute sewing kit. Kids can make their own little stuffed animals out of felt, which is such an easy fabric to cut and sew. Montessori schools use sewing to strengthen children’s fine motor control and to help the to express their creative sides.
My oldest son got one of these for his birthday and he became obsessed with spies. He learned the science of different technologies and it inspired him to read books about kid spies. Plus he spent so much time in his room and in the toy room imagining he was a real secret agent.
Kids love to tell stories, but sometimes they haven’t learned how to write them yet. These ready made, magnetic words are just right for kids to put together the stories that are running through their heads. They can use their own metal board or the family and work collaboratively by putting them on the refrigerator.
As a professional writer I love these. I actually have them to use myself when I get stumped while working on a story. This helps kids learn how to start writing their stories and encourages them to be as creative as possible. The whole family can play with these and build a story around the actions depicted on the cubes.
My kids love to make forts. And they aren’t just forts. They are houses, train stations, dog kennels, and the Mines of Moria. The possibilities for what kids can invent are endless … just see the customer images!
As soon as my kids could read they wanted to write their own books. This is a neat kit that comes with three blank books and all the marker and stickers they could need to create their own story. Plus they are hard cover books so they will last for years.
Sometimes it’s hard to find things that will spark a child’s creativity. If you have a kid like that I highly recommend one of these decorate-your-own kits. It allows them to customize their own train or car and really make it their own. Plus painting is really good for helping kids work on their fine motor skills. NOTE: if your child is not into trains or cars be sure to check out other kits by this company (jet planes, butterfly magnets, princess wands and more) which are all highly rated as well.
Gifts that Encourage Learning
A gift that keeps on giving! Each month your child will receive a new toy to stimulate their brains in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. They can receive things like a chemistry experiment or an electronics lab. You can opt for the 5-7 year old version or the 8-13 year old version depending on the age and maturity of your child.
My brother got one of these for Christmas one year and I was so jealous! The game has four light panels that will light up in a random order that your child then repeats back. The patterns get longer and faster as you progress. This is a great toy for working on short-term memory retention and grit.
A terrarium is a great way for your child to learn about ecosystems. They can create their own ecosystem inside the jar that is provided and watch as the water filters through the soil to the plants and helps them grow.
Crystal making is such a fascinating scientific experience. This kit has enough material to make seven different crystals. And it comes with a display case, which is great to keep reminding them of the science lessons they learned.
If you have a budding paleontologist this is the toy for you! This is a big block of compacted dirt with dinosaur bones inside of it. It comes with the tools your child needs to excavate the bones and once they are out you can snap them together to make a model of a full skeleton.
Breaking open geodes is so satisfying and magical. It’s such a plain looking rock, but so beautiful on the inside. Kids can learn about how the crystals grow inside and how the different minerals make different geodes.
Soap is something we see and use everyday and what can be more fun than making their own! This kit comes with a mold, cubes of clear soap to melt, and fun things to float inside the soap. Plus there are little sidebars in the instruction book that details the science of soap making!
This is just like a certain wizard’s Potions class! This kit has the materials needed to learn about basic (and safe!) chemical reactions. Adults do need to supervise, and you can even learn some science with your kid!
I just spent an entire afternoon in my 9 year old’s class watching them make slime. I learned two things. First, kids are inexplicably drawn to slime. Second, making slime is absolutely science. It is a neat chemical reaction of just three things that creates this semi-solid/semi-liquid substance that is so appealing to touch. They can’t stop themselves and they are learning so much about scientific method and grit.
This robot is a great way to introduce coding to kids. They can use voice commands to move it around and use the cards included as inspiration for tasks that it can complete. It also comes with a harness and markers that can attach to the robot so it can draw pictures!
My nephew’s school introduced me to this little guy. Ozobot will follow the lines you draw on paper. It’s as easy as that! One your child gets the hang of code, they can use your computer to write code and upload it into the robot to have it do more things. It is so cool!
If you have a child who loves Harry Potter, but never could connect to computer coding you are going to love this toy. You do need your own tablet, but the program interacts with the wand making it seem like your child is creating spell as they construct computer code. And it’s real coding language! They can move from this program into middle school coding classes with confidence!
For your Star Wars fan there is the Droid Inventor Kit. Versions of this has been around for several years and it keeps getting better. Your child can build their own R2-D2 and then use their phone to write the code that makes it move! This is coding and electronics development all rolled into one!
I have all of these – plus some I didn’t list here. These are so perfect for young children. They can learn about electric circuits without having to wrestle with wires and weird connections. There are lights, sounds, fans, and (in another kit) a strobe. Kids can hook as many of them up in sequence as they want. And the kits all work together!
Math is so much easier to learn when it’s taught as a game. This game has is actually sixteen different math games in one. The cards are really colorful and vividly demonstrate different numbers. The games teach basic math, logic, and counting. It makes numbers seem not so scary.
I love these kinds of kits that have book tie-ins. The books inspire the kids to try the experiments at home or to just observe the world around them in a different way. This particular kit talks about germs. What they are, how they spread, and where they live. It inspired us to have a great talk about the importance of washing our hands and making sure the doorknobs are clean.
My children feared fractions. Not because they didn’t like math, but because they couldn’t imagine what 1/8th looked like. We tried using pizza, but there was only so much pizza we could eat. (Well, that I could eat, anyway.) These fraction towers not only show you what 1/8th looks like, but they can click apart to help kids learn how to add and subtract fractions. They are a real must have!
I have to admit that I bought 3 of these. Not only do they learn about Da Vinci’s concepts of physics, the catapults are just so much fun! Plus my kids were able to put them together all by themselves, which really boosted their self-esteem.
Baking bread is science. The flour is worked to create gluten with bonds the dough molecules together. The yeast eats the sugar and emits a gas that helps the dough rise as it gets trapped in the dough, like a balloon! This kit demonstrates all of that and then you get to eat the bread! What could be better?
Gifts that Encourage Reading
Magic Tree House books are magical for young and beginning readers. They are adventure books with a strong male and female hero that take children all over the world and through time to solve mysteries. They are short enough to be finished easily, giving the children a sense of accomplishment. Plus there are over sixty of them so they feel empowered to pick up the next and then the next.
Junie B. Jones is having quite a year in kindergarten! Your kids can read all about it in this series. It is a great book for early readers because kindergarten-aged children can identify with Junie’s feelings and emotions.
My sons love these books. They are written in a combination of comics and prose, making it feel like an easy read. Plus they are funny! They tell all about the zany situations Greg gets into. As your child reads, they become more confident and willing to try harder books.
For more confident readers the Percy Jackson books are wonderful. Even I enjoyed reading them. They have both strong boy and girl characters adding their talents to a breathless adventure. And because I read them, my kids and I could bond over our favorite parts and characters!
Ivy and Bean demonstrate what friendship could be. Though they are very different they are there for each other in the stickiest situations. The writing is dynamic and will grab your child by the first sentence. There are ten books filled with their adventures and your child is going to want them all!
These are fun, adventure books for kids all through elementary school. And there are more than 40 of them so if they get hooked they can read for months! Reading a series makes selecting a new book to read, which can be daunting for little kids, so easy. It helps them build their reading confidence while practicing their reading skills.
I love mystery novels. I always have. It was books like these A to Z Mystery books that helped to make me a fan of Agatha Christie, Elizabeth Peters, and Nancy Drew. When kids are familiar with a genre of books it helps them more easily make the leap into trying new authors. As they try new authors they become more adventurous readers.
Kids like to read about school. It helps to give them idea for how to handle different scenarios, like homework and bullying. This series focuses on the fantasy of what school could be like if it were a little more zany. It is touted as great for the reluctant reader and will give them the practice they need to become more confident about their reading skills.
Judy Moody is a perennial favorite. Boys and girls love to read all about the fun she has with her friends and her brother Stink. Like most series, they encourage kids to keep reading. The more they practice reading the more they love it!
My husband introduced me to Cam Jansen and her photographic memory. Cam has wonderful mystery adventures to solve and your child can also solve them if they read carefully enough. That makes these books a nice challenge, however, they are still a fun and easy read for beginners.
The school library has about thirty of these Who Was… books. They are detailed and interesting biographies of famous people. Your child can learn about Martin Luther King, Jr, JK Rowling, Walt Disney, and more! My kids love to share what they learned at the dinner table, which is a great reading comprehension practice technique and at the same time a great way to connect with kids over dinner.
Read Harry Potter. Need I say more? Really. They are brilliant books. The language used paints a mental picture that draws the reader into the world Rowling has created. For elementary school children, I would recommend the first 4 books. Starting at the 4th one the tone becomes more serious and a bit darker for young children.
#1. Looking for more books? Check out our list of 20 Awesome Children’s Books About Resilience (Sorted by Age).
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Reading comprehension is such an important skill for kids to learn. They can read and enjoy the book, but digging down and realizing what the main idea of the story was and what the supporting details are isn’t intuitive to a lot of kids. These cubes have different questions kids can ask themselves and build the skill of comprehension in a fun and non-threatening way.
Nothing is cozier than reading a book in bed. However, children need good light to prevent damage to their eyes. This is a neat light in that it fits onto the book they are reading! This is also great if you have a child who wants to read in the car when it’s dark out. Or you have a child who needs to be bribed (ahem) with a shiny object to get them to read.
A beanbag chair is in general such a fun place to sit and read. Sometimes kids just need a special reading place all their own to encourage them to read more. This can fit in their bedroom, living room, or even tucked in the corner of the hallway. The neat thing about this particular beanbag though is it is “stuffed”entirely by your child’s stuffed toys. How’s that for a smart storage option?
This journal is a great way for you child to track their reading accomplishments. Every time they finish a book they log the title, author, and then rate the book. Tracking their reading will promote life-long reading habits AND it will help you to remember which books to tell grandma and grandpa they’ve already read when they are buying a gift.
Gifts that Encourage Independent Play
I think we must have about 500 million Legos in our playroom. Lego sets can teach your child about engineering and creativity. And there are so many choices you can find one that speaks to your child’s interests. My kids spend about an hour everyday at the Lego table designing buildings, ships, and battle scenes. Lego even has robotic options for kids interested in computer programming.
I used to have a basket of dinosaur figures sitting out at all times. My boys loved dinosaurs and these figures could buy me the time I needed to get dinner on the table. Playing with dinosaurs encourage a love of science, history, and outdoor exploration.
This is one of different kinds of play carpets for sale at this link. With this rug they can pretend to be bus driver driving through a town or a police officer chasing down criminals. Or they can be all the people everywhere!
K’NEX are real engineering, STEM toys. Your child can snap together the pieces to form real, working toys! This particular set comes with instructions for 70 different toys it can make. And once the toy is built they can play with it!
Such as classic imaginative toy. My action figures kept my brother and I in our rooms, happily playing in our own fantastic worlds so long my mom had to come and force us downstairs for movie night. With action figures you can stop being a kid who isn’t allowed to participate in the adult world and become a real hero with superpowers who can save the entire galaxy at a moments notice. This so important for their self-esteem and self-confidence.
Gifts that Encourage Cooperative Play
This is one of my favorite games to play with my kids. It is a fun way to practice pattern recognition, strategy, and problem solving. You can match the shapes, or the colors, or build a line of all different shapes and colors. You can play with points or just play until you can’t make any more matches if you have an overly competitive child.
Cooperative deck building games are our new family obsession. I like them because we all have to work together to develop a strategy to conquer the threat cards from the deck. It teaches collaboration and strategy as well as listening skills and patience.
This one is really, really fun! We love capture the flag, but at night time? With glow-in-the-dark bracelets and balls it adds a whole different layer of excitement to capture the flag. It’s perfect for parties with lots of kids or it can be a great kid vs. adult game. It teaches team building and strategy while running off loads of energy.
Thanks to the USA Men’s Curling Team’s win in Korea curling has become popular. If you can’t make it to an ice rink that has curling stones this is the next best thing. You try to slide your little stones up the “ice” and into the house. You can play in teams or against each other for an amazingly fun time.
Gifts that Encourage Healthy Eating
This is a kid’s nutrition book written for children. This book explains about vitamins, nutrients, fats, protein, and calories. Understanding about healthy eating can encourage your child to try new foods.
One of the best ways to teach your children how to eat healthy is to teach them how to cook healthy. This cookbook has 100 recipes with photographic instructions that empowers kids to follow along and give cooking a try.
If you’re going to cook you need the proper tools. This set has measuring cups and spoons, stirring spoons, a spatula, tongs, bowls, and an apron. Plus there are MasterChef Junior recipes included that your child can try out.
Cheese-making is deceptively easy. Especially if you give your kids this kit. It has the citric acid and rennet needed to create the curds and the cheesecloth to strain them out of the whey. Just think how fun it will be to make pizza with mozzarella cheese you made yourself!
Part of becoming a pro at cooking and baking is understanding why different ingredients are necessary. For example, why do we need baking soda in cake? Why does soda fizz? What is the purpose for acids and bases in a cooked dish? This kit can answer all these questions. And then you can eat the results!
One of the scariest parts of cooking for parents is letting their kids use knives. These knives are safe for kids to use because they won’t cut their skin! The serrated blades do the work and can cut almost any fruit or vegetable. Practicing with these safe knives will give you and your kids the confidence to handle the real deal.
Herbs are a wonderful way to add flavor to dishes. There is something really satisfying about growing your herbs yourself and having them on the kitchen window, ready to use. Plus your children learn about botany as they learn about healthy eating!
Fresh orange juice can’t be beat. Using an orange juicer like this one helps children develop their wrist and fine motor muscles. Plus they get to drink what they make, which is part of a healthy snack.
We have two of these in our Montessori preschool. Yes, children as young as 3 years old can cut their own apples slices for their snacks! And if they feel empowered to make it themselves, they are going to learn to choose apples as their healthy snack.
Some pot holders and chef’s mitts can be too large for little hands. These chef mitts are just the right size for your little cook. Plus it makes putting their hands in a hot oven to put in their cookies seem less intimidating and more confidence building.
This great baking cookbook is the result of a partnership between Williams-Sonoma and American Girl. It has recipes for cookies, cupcakes, muffins, brownies, and more. Everything a budding pastry chef needs to learn! If baking isn’t your thing, they have several other highly rated recipe books in this series, be sure to check them out.
MasterChef has many of these cooking set on the market. You can find pizza making, baking, buger making, and this one – a breakfast cooking set. If you have dreams of getting served breakfast in bed for your birthday, this is the set you need to buy. It comes with three recipes your child can try – and succeed with – immediately.
Gifts that Encourage Outdoor Play
Hammocks are refuges of imagination. Having one hanging in your backyard invites children into it to read or simply dream about what they could be when they grow up. This one is perfect for either. And it is small enough that you can hang several from the boughs of the trees in your yard to give each of your children their own special spot.
I saw a lot of these on the playgrounds in Switzerland. They are a combination of a hammock and a swing. They are perfect for kids with disabilities or very young children. They are equally perfect for any child looking to have a good time.
What is a childhood without a bike? I lived on a gravel road and even I had a bike. Bikes are children’s first bit of freedom. They give children confidence, boost their self-esteem, and improve their gross motor coordination.
Skateboards are another way for kids to feel a bit of freedom. Skateboards require balance and coordination just to ride them. And if you want to do tricks they require some serious grit. But they are so much fun and can really boost a kid’s self-confidence.
Roller Blades are so much fun. You can use them on the sidewalk or even in a skating rink if you are lucky enough to have a roller skating place near you. Plus, if you grab a hockey stick and a ball and you have a pick-up game of street hockey with your friends!
These soccer goals fold up to so flat and small! Ours easily fit in the trunk or backseat of our car and they literally pop open right into the correct shape for the goal. You can use them for lacrosse as well as soccer.
This is a tee worthy of the big leagues. The height is adjustable to accommodate everyone’s height. It helps to develop the hand-eye coordination and strength necessary to start hitting pitched balls.
What is a baseball practice without a baseball glove? Rawlings is a classic go-to brand for baseball and softball gloves. They also have gloves for left-handed players as well. Playing catch with a ball and a glove helps to develop hand-eye coordination, grit, and large motor skills.
A good basketball is one of the best outdoor toys in the world. You can take it to any playground and shoot hoops by yourself or put together a pick-up game. It’s a great way to chill out or bond with your friends.
You could say everything about a soccer ball that I said above about the basketball. Soccer is a fantastic sport. It’s great for cardio health and gross motor skills. Plus, you don’t even need a special court to get a game going – you can play it anywhere!
Kites are a little piece of magic. They are propelled into the air by catching bits of wind and then dance in the sky with just the tiniest of tugs on a string. They aren’t just fun, they teach children about air currents and aerodynamics!
Frisbees are an easy thing to tuck into your bag and take along to the park. And they can keep your children running and busy for a solid hour of fun and exercise. The frisbee hones their hand-eye coordination and their gross motor skills, too. And this one lights up at night, so it is great for after supper games on lazy summer evenings.
A fun, very outdoor game. It’s even perfect to take to the beach. It is a total body workout that helps your child develop their hand-eye coordination and their gross motor skills. It is a game that will challenge them in a fun way.
This is like a giant Jenga game. I like to have it out when we are having a backyard BBQ. The kids and adults play together and challenge each other’s skills in strategy, balance, and general physics knowledge. It brings a group together.
Gifts that Encourage Self Discovery & Personal Development
Gratitude is one of the things parents most want to cultivate in their children. One of the ways to do that is to have your children journal about the things – big and small – they are grateful for every day.
Journaling is a wonderful way to express yourself and discover who you are. For kids, it’s really important they have a safe place to share their worries and questions. This journal is a great place to share these worries and discoveries.
Big Life Journal is perfect for children who need to discover their gritty side. Writing in this journal helps them find their successes and work towards becoming more tenacious. There are pages to draw and write as well as inspirational stories of others who have failed before succeeding.
This will become a family keepsake. This journal is for both you and your daughter to share hopes, dreams, memories, and secrets back and forth. It will bring you closer together while leading them on a journey of self-discovery.
Sometimes it’s a little hard to feel like I’m reaching my sons emotionally. As they grow they start to become quieter about their fears, concerns, and joys. This journal is a way to establish that connection without feeling like you are prying. This is a journal you keep together. We record memories together, share parts of our day and explore our common interests. We learn about each other and can connect on a deeper level.
This is a journal for kids who have never written about themselves before. It guides kids through writing their physical description, their hopes and dreams, their fears, and then their emotions. Plus they don’t have to write everyday. They can pick it up whenever they want and answer the questions, which helps with feeling too pressured to write.
I love this journal for really young kids. It has space for them to draw on the top and then nice, wide lines to write on below. They can write about family, trips, holidays, or other special occasions. In fact, there are some schools who have children do just this very thing on Monday mornings to help them process their weekend and get ready for the work week ahead.
For kid who do not like to journal towards self-discovery this mindfulness game is a good alternative. This game teaches skills that will help them handle stress, anger, and anxiety. You can play as a family during your family game night.
This pack has games and activities that teach kids how to feel gratitude, find their calm center, and ease anxieties. There are even instructions on how to modify the games for kids of all ages and ability levels.
I wish I had thought of this idea. This is a group of 12 letters for your child to write to themselves. They write them at different points of their childhood and then you deliver them back to them when they are adults. It’s a touching way to gain perspective on the hopes and fears they had when they were children. They have a bunch of other themes in this series, such as letters to my mom, letters to my friend, letters to my daughter and more… all worth looking into.