Kids this age are getting into tricky territory, toy-wise. Many of them have moved past most toys and are only interested in MP3s, video games and clothes. Any toys bought for kids in this age group need to be engaging and interesting enough to capture their attention, if only for a short time! The best part? Most are educational, and the vast majority are under $50!
Design Your Own Home Kit, $59.95: Future architects and decorators will love this complete kit, which allows them to design and then create a 3D model of their dream home! Fun and educational!
Egyptian Explorer Kits: Budding Egyptologists and history buffs will love these engaging, educational kits. The Egyptian Pyramid Archaeology kit, $25, allows kids to unlock the secret to the pyramid and uncover hidden treasures. The Hierolglyph kit features a storage case filled with rubber stamps, an ink bad, a guidebook and the Hieroglyphic alphabet so that kids can send their own secret messages, $24.99. Younger historians will love the Ancient Egypt Jigsaw Book and the Ancient Romans Jigsaw Book, $14.99 each.
Tasty Science Kit, $19.95: Kids 8 and up can learn about culinary chemistry through this set of ten experiments. They will learn why baked goods rise, drinks fizz, and other secrets in their own kitchen laboratory. Sweet tooths might prefer the Candy Factory, $39.95, which includes recipes and tools that will help kids understand how sweets get made! More specific, smaller kits are also available for $12.95 each, to make chocolate, gummies or chewing gum!
Genetics & DNA Kit, $34.95: This creative kit allows kids to solve fictitious mysteries using DNA evidence, and learn about dominant and recessive traits. Includes 20 different experiments and lab supplies!
Wooden Car or Scooter Construction Kits, $12.95 each: Solid wood puzzle pieces come together to create rewarding 3D models of a car or a scooter. Get both sets (the car and the scooter) for $19.95.
Star Theater 3, $39.98: Just input the time, date and place, and this planetarium will project the night sky onto your child’s ceiling, with all the planets and constellations labeled! Also useful as a nightlight.
H-Racer 2.0, $88.99: This sophisticated set teaches kids about fuel-cell technology and zero emission mechanisms as they build their own miniature race car. Transparent fueling station and car allow kids to watch the water fuel the car, and then a remote control allows them to control it!
Deluxe Microscope Set, $39.98: This complete microscope set features everything from three different zoom settings to slides, vials – everything a future scientist needs to get started!
Physics Workshop, $49.95: Kids can have fun building models that move and learning about physics. 36 projects in all, including how to make a wind power generator, ATV, crane, sail car, Mars robot, and more!
Destruct 3 Demolition Game, $64.95: National Geographic offers this unique approach to learning engineering concepts. Kids think they are just playing a fun demolition game, but they are really learning basic principles of engineering. Or check out this Snap Circuits Rover, a fun way to learn the basics of electronics, for $99.95.
4D Cityscape New York City, $40: While kids piece together this incredible four-dimensional puzzle allows kids to experience how New York City has evolved over the years by seeing the changes in its skyline. So cool!
LEGO Frank Lloyd Wright Set, $100: Kids 16 and older will enjoy this elaborate Wright-inspired Lego set, which allows kids to explore his design concepts.
Perfume Science and Creative Cosmetics Kits, $59.95: I would have flipped for these sets as a preteen, when I was always in the bathroom whipping up my own skin care products! They would have rescued my mother’s products from the aftermath of my experiments! The Perfume Science kit allows kids to extract essences from plants and create their own custom fragrances, while the Cosmetics Kit allows them to mix up their own shampoo, cleanser and lotion with included bases and natural supermarket items.
Dino Dig, $12.95: Have your own Dino Dan? Then he’ll love his very own dig, with all the tools he needs to unearth his own prehistoric pals.
And For the Younger Siblings!
Zillio, $69.95: This colorful, rotating structure teaches kids basic math concepts: times tables and number lines, and then allows them to watch the numbers interact. This might actually make math fun! For kids 4 and up.
Grasshopper Kits, $29.99-$49.99: These fun, portable kits teach preschool learning concepts through play. No workbooks or pencils, just engaging games for 3 to 5 year olds!
MOOV Vehicles, $249 and up: A construction toy that your child builds and then rides! Durable, safe and creative for kids 5 and up, this kit allows kids to build multiple models without any tools!
Junior Professor Series, $29.99: This set of 9 CDs that teach important educational concepts by using fun games and activities, and include such exciting titles as Let’s Make a Movie and Action Arcade! And they are all bilingual (English/Spanish!)
Professor Noggin’s Card Games, $49.95/set of 6: Each of these decks feature 30 sturdy, colorful cards with trivia, true and false and multiple choice questions that teach history and geography in a fun way.
Villa Voice, $199.99: This educational play house features six soft, organic toy characters, each with their own story book and sound. The stories unite six different language sounds that become the foundation of speech. Age 1 and up!