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Birthday Gift Ideas for 9 Year Old Gifted (Boy) Child?
July 6, 2005 9:29 AM   Subscribe

Birthday Gift Ideas for 9 Year Old Gifted (Boy) Child?

My nephew is currently 8 (going to be 9) in 1 week. Curently he excels in Math, Reading and Writing, i.e. a couple of years ahead of his age. In the past I've gotten him Juvenile Science Fiction books, math-related books (The Number Devil) and Nintendo Gamecube Games. I could do something along those lines again but I thought maybe I could get him something a little different. I've been looking at construction type toys and also more practical things like a Telescope or Microscope. I'd live to keep it relatively cheap, i.e. less than $50. Any ideas?
posted by dgeiser13 to Grab Bag (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
There's lots of great stuff at The Discovery Store.
posted by gaspode at 9:38 AM on July 6, 2005


forgot to add: like the fingerprint kit. I got that for my friends' 10yo kid. He loved it.
posted by gaspode at 9:41 AM on July 6, 2005


I had Lego, which is of course, awesome, but I also had Capsela which is awesome because all the moving parts are visible.
posted by o2b at 9:46 AM on July 6, 2005


I like experiential presents, especially for those (like kids) who seem to be machines designed to ever-acculumate crap.

What about science museum passes? A one-day art or science class or workshop? Like this or this. I'm sure there's something similar if he's not in Columbus.
posted by lalalana at 9:54 AM on July 6, 2005


American science and surplus has lots of stuff ,kits, games,
science based toys and very funny product descriptions.
posted by hortense at 9:58 AM on July 6, 2005


When I was 8 years old, I started playing Dungeons & Dragons, and I got some D&D stuff for my 9th birthday. If he's smarter than your average 8-9 year old (as I was), capable of doing basic arithmetic in his head, and willing to do a bunch of reading, you could get him the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set. It retails for $25 but you can get it for $17 if you shop around.
Warning: D&D is considered nerdy by most people, and works best with when a group of several players (preferably four or more) can meet regularly. Also, if he gets really into it, he will eventually want the Player's Handbook or (if he wants to run the game for other people), the full set of three core rulebooks. These are big hardbound books that run about $20 each at Amazon, and are a tougher read than the rulebook in the basic set.
If he does get into it, he will find a different sort of creative pastime. Except instead of building actual physical objects, he will collaborate with his friends in telling a story. If not, at least the mathematician in him will appreciate the funny dice that come with it.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 10:17 AM on July 6, 2005


I doubt you'd be able to get a worthwhile telescope or microscope for less than $50.

Construction-type toys... do you mean Tonka trucks and their ilk, or build'em toys like legos or tinkertoys? Either way, stick with the classics, man.

Just make sure you're getting the child a gift, not the giftedness. When I was a gifted 8--10 year old, it was obvious when people would give me Good For The Boy or Let's Engineer The Child presents instead of This Looks Like Fun ones. Sometimes you just want some Hot Wheels and a shitload of track, dammit, or an Imperial Stormtrooper laser blaster that makes horrible noises, even if it's not officially approved as "enriching."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:19 AM on July 6, 2005


I completely agree with ROU_Xenophobe. Kids can totally tell when you're trying to give them educational toys.

If they still sell Hot Wheels and tracks, that is a great idea.

Althooooough, it would've been nice to have had an uncle that wanted to splurge on one of these.
posted by redteam at 10:32 AM on July 6, 2005


gaspode, o2b, hortense: Thanks for the links to The Discovery Store, Capsela and American Science and Surplus.

lalalana: My nephew lives in the Toledo Ohio area and they do have a COSI so the experiential pass is definitely an option.

ROU: You are probably correct RE: the decent scopes for less than $50. When I say construction types toys I mean lego, tinkertoys or something more advanced. As far as gifting to him and not his giftedness I completely understand. The reason I even mention it is that I've noticed he's sometimes into things that maybe others his age might not be. BUT he does like things of his own age group, too, i.e. a shitload of hotwheels track.
posted by dgeiser13 at 10:32 AM on July 6, 2005


CrunchyFrog: I didn't mean to skip past you! That's actually a really good deal on the D&D Beginner's Set. He would be starting a little earlier than I did BUT I'm 39 now and I don't even think D&D was around when I was 8. I'm definitely keeping this one in mind. Especially since I get free shipping from Amazon Prime. :-)
posted by dgeiser13 at 10:35 AM on July 6, 2005


I can attest, as a 39 year old, that D&D didn't exist when I was eight, because we were the first kids on our block to play it and I was . . . maybe 14? This firmly established our permageek status.


it was obvious when people would give me Good For The Boy or Let's Engineer The Child presents instead of This Looks Like Fun ones. <---that was really funny and true.
posted by mecran01 at 10:40 AM on July 6, 2005


Model rocketry - it is fun, has combustion (always a favorite with boys, and almost as good as going boom), teaches some science (rocket science nonetheless) and promotes parental child bonding as it will require some parental supervision.
posted by caddis at 10:47 AM on July 6, 2005


Lego Pentominoes
posted by bondcliff at 10:56 AM on July 6, 2005


Oh yeah, I don't mean that you shouldn't get the boy something that's nominally educational or enriching. Kids dig that too. But when you pick it something in a store and take a look at it, do take a sec to ask yourself how your inner 9-year-old would react to it.

If not now, sometime soon he'll be prime age for Ender's Game. Right about now is prime time for the Great Brain books, or the Mad Scientist Club books.

What I wish someone had done for me as a kid: cruised flea markets and garage sales to buy absolutely the most legos that $X would buy, and forbid me to ever get rid of them, ever, for any reason on pain of noogie.

And Matchbox cars totally dominate Hot Wheels.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:03 AM on July 6, 2005


dgeiser13 / mecrano : according to this, the first edition of Dungeons & Dragons to appear under that name was in 1974 - you guys must have been 8 or thereabouts I guess?
posted by coach_mcguirk at 11:04 AM on July 6, 2005


Lego Mindstorms?
posted by matildaben at 11:09 AM on July 6, 2005


I came in to recommend science museum passes (and/or IMAX! IMAX is awesome!), only to find it's already been done, but I also have to second Ender's Game. I read it as an adult but I don't think it's anything a smart 9-year-old couldn't digest.
posted by librarina at 11:12 AM on July 6, 2005


#1 Gift: Stop calling him "gifted", at least within his earshot. I still have scars.
posted by trevyn at 11:15 AM on July 6, 2005


ROU_Xenophobe: WTF man? I can't agree with you there.

Everyone knows that Hot Wheels are better.

Oh yeah, one more gift suggestion: Blocks. Plain wooden blocks.

That was always the toy I came back to, and I never had enough of them.
posted by redteam at 11:34 AM on July 6, 2005


ROU is right. (Well, I abstain on the whole Matchbox vs. Hot Wheels thing.) Legos are a fantastic gift.
posted by grouse at 11:56 AM on July 6, 2005


re: 1974 D&D
Yes, D&D was first published in 1974, but back then it had a very limited audience. It was sold in the same sorts of hobby shops that sold miniature historical soldiers for the (mostly adult) hobbyists who reinacted battles on tabletops. The first version specifically designed for children was the 1981 version of the basic set.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 11:58 AM on July 6, 2005


Sounds like me when I was nine (where did I go wrong?), which is right about when my parents got me the Dinotopia books. I still think they're swell.

Also, D&D would be an awesome gift.
posted by hototogisu at 12:45 PM on July 6, 2005


Sounds like a good age to start learning about programming. BlitzPlus (Blitz Basic) seems pretty cool but I don't know anything about it, like whether it would be reasonable for a smart 9 year old to learn it without extra materials. You could get this book which comes with a limited version of Blitz Basic 2D (doesn't make stand-alone executables so he would have to upgrade in order to give his games to his friends), for a cheaper option.

Or you could get him his own domain and a couple of years web hosting but I guess that might scare his parents.
posted by teleskiving at 12:48 PM on July 6, 2005


Legos. (duh).

A K'nex Roller Coaster. Or the Ball Tower. FatBrain also sells tubs of pulleys/gears and ramps/wheels. (Don't get a basilisk or iguana yet. My 13 yo had a hard time getting the basilisk together, as there are a couple of tricky places where you really do need four hands.) I've been known to give K'nex as gifts to adult geeks I know....
posted by jlkr at 2:09 PM on July 6, 2005


Give the kid a machine gun style water canon and a megaphone for crying out loud. He's nine years old. He should upset parents and scare older sisters. Let him know that's ok to enjoy himself, instead of living up to all these pretentious gifts.
posted by ouke at 2:13 PM on July 6, 2005


How about Science Experiments You Can Eat?

My brothers and I used to love these marble construction kits (or whatever you call them) when we were little, and like Legos they can be used over and over without getting boring.
posted by geeky at 2:47 PM on July 6, 2005


redteam: The Ecospehere is cool! I might buy one for myself. I also concur on Hot Wheels.

mecran01/coach_mcguirk: Well, maybe it did exist but I hadn't heard of it yet. I think I first head about it when I was a Freshmen in HS. And yes I've not yet been able to shake that status.

caddis: Model Rocketry could be cool but most likely his Mom would kill me. I may wait a couple of years on that one.

bondcliff/matildaben/geeky : Thanks for the Pentominoes, Lego Mindstorms, Science Experiments You Can Eat and Marble Construction Kit links!

ROU_Xenophobe: I'm definitely thinking about my inner 9 year old would react! I actually though about getting him Ender's Game for Easter but I ended up getting him The Xenocide Mission by Ben Jeapes and The Number Devil. I know would have enjoyed the heck out of Ender's Game at his age.

trevyn: I've never called him gifted nor would I.

CrunchyFrog: Hey, I had that exact Basic Set way back when.

hototogisu: I'll take a closer look at those Dinotopia books.

teleskiving: Blitz Plus could be cool. I actually installed a copy of MSW logo on their computer last time I was there. I showed him around the program a little bit but I don't know how much he's used it since.

jlkr: He has and his built the K'Nex Roller Coaster. That Ball Tower looks awesome.

ouke: I might consider the water cannon but he can already be as loud as a megaphone sometimes.
posted by dgeiser13 at 5:38 PM on July 6, 2005


I'm a little late on this, but my 8yo is crazy about the Metal Detector and the Rock Polisher he received for his birthday. Boys love rocks and boys love finding treasures :)
posted by LadyBonita at 1:34 AM on July 7, 2005


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