Your grade-schooler wants the latest and greatest toy, but you can't keep up. Here's a gift guide to help you find the perfect present.
Buying gifts for kids can be tough -- especially when it's for your cool grade-schooler. At this age, many of his favorite games and activities depend heavily on what's "in" at the playground and what his friends like to play with. This means you'll also begin to see a deeper gender divide when it comes to toys and games. "When kids reach the 6 to 10 age range, their toys really start to reflect their personalities," says Marissa DiBartolo, senior editor of the Toy Insider. "He is highly influenced by entertainment, and his favorite characters from TV and movies will play a huge role in what he's playing with," she adds. So when you're searching for great gifts for kids, tapping into your big kid's interests will guarantee that you pick the perfect present. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Craft Kits
Older kids are developing a serious sense of personal style. Let them make their own home decor, jewelry and fashionable accessories with the help of kits, then show off their hard work to their friends. Play expert Valerie Deenan, creator of Inner Child Fun, says she "loves Seedling craft kits, which are eco-friendly and encourage kids to put their own personal touches on their projects."
- Sports Equipment
Get kids up and running out of the house. If your kids participate in organized sports, buy them a new basketball or new baseball gloves to start the season in style. You might also consider introducing them to a new activity that you can do together -- tossing around the KANJAMGlow-in-the-Dark Flying Disc means you can have outdoor fun no matter the hour.
- Art Supplies
If you think art supplies are just crayons and markers, think again. Items like the Crayola Paint Maker let kids take charge and create their own custom supplies. Get their creative juices flowing, and soon there will be plenty of masterpieces to hang on the wall. "For kids in this age group, I highly recommend seeking products that foster lots of processed-based or open-ended art," says Deenan.
- Building Sets
It's no surprise that building sets make the list for great gifts for kids, since it promotes creative thinking and an increased attention span. The variety of kits is nearly endless -- try a set based around their favorite movie, or opt for one that allows for two ways of play: the MindWare Marble Run set lets kids design a course before sending marbles through.
Grade-school girls have traded their baby dolls for more realistic versions. Many lines, such as the American Girl Dolls, come with extra accessories to keep kids interested. Look for versions that offer matching kid-size clothing, pets and outfits, which allow your little girl to dream up a whole new world for her new best friend.
You are never too old for pretend play, but older kids may want to swap the full-blown Spidey costume for more streamlined accessories, such as the Spy Gear Field Agent Watch. Smaller items like this facilitate imaginative make-believe in any location, from the car to the playground.
- Magazine Subscriptions
A successful gift doesn't always mean a play-thing. If the kid you're buying a gift for has enough toys to last him a lifetime, purchase a yearly subscription to a magazine like Highlights or National Geographic Kids. Not only is this a gift that will last year-round, but kids can nurture their love for reading in addition to discovering new interests or passions.
- Monthly Subscription Boxes
What kid wouldn't want to receive a gift every month? Deenan suggests "considering a monthly subscription box that incorporates important STEM skills," but there are options to fit any interest. Boxes like Kiwi Crate or Kidstir arrive packed full of fun hands-on projects for them to do alone or with their parents, and they'll get a kick out of receiving a special piece of mail just for them every month.