Birthday present quandary. Difficultly level: 8 yr old girl
August 2, 2019 9:01 AM   Subscribe

Granddaughter is having a birthday. We had an idea for present, but it fell through. What now? Details below fold.

We had an idea for a birthday present for our soon-to-be 8-yr-old granddaughter that now seems like a bad idea. We need inspiration. We are on the east coast; she's on the west coast, so it's hard to stay current with her likes and dislikes.

Once upon a time, she wore angle wings a lot of the time, and following that she was into Disney Princesses. We think she has probably outgrown that sort of thing. Of her current interests, we think she is taking French Horn lessons. We detect no interest in sports.

Both her parents are totally STEM sorts of people (biology, computer science). She has a big sister, 4 years older, who seems a bit more interested in art. Having an older sibling has exposed the birthday girl to more advanced things and she copes well.

Any ideas gratefully accepted.
posted by SemiSalt to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (32 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Microscope sets are a great toy for curious children around that age - gets them outside collecting samples, too. Her parents should be on board for this gift as they will need to help.
posted by muddgirl at 9:09 AM on August 2, 2019 [7 favorites]

Kits. Any kind of kit for making stuff.

At that age I was going through a serious phase of building structures out of playing cards - make of that what you will.

Oh! A big Lego kit, maybe with some mechanical moving parts or robotics. Or something that incorporates basic electronics and/or Arduino programming.
posted by amtho at 9:13 AM on August 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

At that age and on into the tween years, my kids loved getting magazine subscription gifts from grandparents. Some of the best were Cricket, Faces and Muse -- they really encourage a kind of intellectual and cultural exploration of the world and there is something so nice about getting physical mail these days. Each time it arrives, it is a reminder of you, the giver, too.
posted by nantucket at 9:14 AM on August 2, 2019 [8 favorites]

Turing Tumble
Fantastic toy that everyone will want to play with.
posted by lois1950 at 9:15 AM on August 2, 2019 [9 favorites]

I think eight is a perfect time for something that feels a little grown up.

I received and loved at that age from my grandparents an antique wooden box to keep treasures in (think jewelry box or about the size of a shoe box). Maybe with a fairly classic bracelet or necklace inside.
posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 9:15 AM on August 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

That was prime Little House on the Prairie time for my daughter. And Razor scooter time.
posted by metasarah at 9:16 AM on August 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

My granddaughter just turned 9. Int he last 2 years things that have been real hits include:
  • Cameras! She now has two, one of the 'new' polaroid instamax cameras which is fun but has expensive film and a repurposed iPod touch for takings avalanches of shots. She's gotten much better (surprisingly so) in the last year
  • She's a pretty energetic kid who does best with lots of activities. We've purchased all kinds of nice-fish gear (bikes, bike stuff, climbing/bouldering shoes & helmets, sailing/kayak accessories) She likes them and we tend to buy slightly nicer things than her parents would given that she's likely to out grow them
  • Crafting supplies. The desire to colour, cut, glue, fold, paint things is inexhaustible. She'll make do with craft paper and glue sticks but really likes something novel and isn't too precious to treat something like it's rare
  • On preview - microscopes! We've done magnifying glasses, fresnel lenses and a kids microscope. I was very happy to see those get combined with above mentioned cameras in totally unprompted ways

posted by mce at 9:17 AM on August 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

You can get her a 6- or 12-month subscription box from Kiwi. This is one of their lines that might suit her age. It's pretty awesome to get something new each month.
posted by hydra77 at 9:19 AM on August 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

That's supposed to be the target age for Cozmo, a toy robot that helps you learn to code. Also, is adorable, and plays games.
posted by Zudz at 9:25 AM on August 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

I loved Muse magazine at that age. So glad to hear they're still around!
posted by easy, lucky, free at 9:30 AM on August 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Does she have a Nintendo Switch? The Nintendo Labo is a really cool product that lets kids build interactive toys. It's a fun project to do with help. If you are thinking of getting one, I'd suggest the variety kit.
posted by pazazygeek at 9:34 AM on August 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

I got my 8 year old nephew some binoculars (real adult ones) for his birthday last year and it went over quite well.
posted by something something at 9:37 AM on August 2, 2019

Some real art canvases (you can get great small ones in packs of ten), paint brushes, palette, and some nice acrylic paints.
posted by ReluctantViking at 9:42 AM on August 2, 2019

Do you talk much to her 12-year-old sister? I bet your other granddaughter might have a better idea of what a good present would be. Parents are notoriously bad reporters of what their kids actually want, but her sister will know. Just run it by the parents first.
posted by juniperesque at 9:47 AM on August 2, 2019 [12 favorites]

I EXTREMELY HIGHLY re-recommend Turing Tumble. Got it for my 7 yr old girl and she still plays with it now she's 8. Her 11 yr old brother sneaks it from her room into his whenever he can manage. Visiting friends who hate children regularly stick their heads into my kids' rooms to say hi just for an excuse to have a go at it. You won't regret it.
posted by MiraK at 9:53 AM on August 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

My daughter is 7.5 and she is really into crafting. Of late she's been stringing beads to make bracelets. When other kids of a similar age come over they all spend a significant time making bracelets too, regardless of gender.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:25 AM on August 2, 2019

Long colorful wig with a fun wig stand, wide tooth comb and a full length mirror.
posted by oh posey at 10:36 AM on August 2, 2019

My 8 y/o loves Kazoo Magazine: “Kazoo is a new kind of quarterly print magazine for girls, ages 5 to 12—one that celebrates them for being strong, smart, fierce and, above all, true to themselves.”
posted by kittydelsol at 10:45 AM on August 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

My eight year old niece likes books at her reading level. She loves the jewelry making set we gave her (on Amazon for making charm style bracelets) as well as a simple, cute jewelry box.

She and her younger sister had fun with a Cosmo at xmas.
posted by Kalatraz at 11:15 AM on August 2, 2019

I have a 9 year old daughter and came to recommend the Kiwi Crates - a new project every month.
posted by neilbert at 11:20 AM on August 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

At 8, I loved getting art supplies- fresh sets of colored pencils, pastels, etc. I did get a microscope at that age and hated it, personally (I liked a kaleidoscope, though).
posted by pinochiette at 11:20 AM on August 2, 2019

I can also recommend Turing Tumble. My 9 year old has loved it for a couple of years, and she also likes the Snap Circuits electronics kit.

Monthly subscription kits are fun for some people, but my husband and I hate them because of the wasteful packaging and fiddly projects that are often one hit wonders. Two of the science subscriptions we received required that multiple ingredients be supplied from home. Are they kidding me?

If she's musically inclined, a ukulele, tuner, and beginner's book are great fun. My kids love fiddling around with the ukulele and can figure out a song or two in just a few minutes.
posted by defreckled at 11:27 AM on August 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

If you want something science-y, Toys R' Us has toy science experiment kits. I just bought one for my 6-year-old grandnephew that involves concocting invisible ink, mixing fizzing potions, and making a colour-changing volcano. It's supposed to have 11 activities in it in total.

You might get her a telescope and a book that will explain what she's looking at (i.e., constellations, planets, etc.), but I think 10-12 might be a better age for that than 8.
posted by orange swan at 11:42 AM on August 2, 2019

How about a Heddle loom?
posted by Chrischris at 12:13 PM on August 2, 2019

I have an 8 year old who went through the same evolution of interests and also has 0 interest in sports. Here are some of the things she's liked:

- Big pillows, particularly if they are shaped like a Capybara or Pusheen
- A mini watercolor kit and watercolor notebook; she takes those to camp with her for rainy days
- Her first grown-up digital watch
- Large amounts of googly eyes and adhesive
- A pop-up tent that she can fill with pillows and enjoy outside or during family cabin trips (ours was $20 at Aldi)
- A mini-baggu bag for carrying her stuff
- A mini safe for keeping her money and secrets
posted by Alison at 1:02 PM on August 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

A nice jewelry box. It's grown-up seeming from a kids perspective and they can store stuff in it.
posted by KMoney at 1:23 PM on August 2, 2019

Depending how into her music she is, maybe you can find an orchestra nearby doing a cool concert? Lots of them now have tie-in concerts to movie scores etc. that she might like.
posted by nakedmolerats at 1:59 PM on August 2, 2019

My niece loves Botley the programmable robot.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:04 PM on August 2, 2019

Our 8yo artistically-bent engineer loved any art supplies she got for birthdays and other gift-giving opportunities. A set of gel pens, colored pencils, and a steady supply of paper kept her absolutely happy for most of a summer. Another great gift was sewing classes that she did with a group of girls where they learned machine sewing to make their own bags, and hand sewing to create small animals. Both of those activities have lasted well into her teens. If there is anything like that where she lives, it will be a boon to her for ages.
posted by drossdragon at 2:43 PM on August 2, 2019

My almost 10 yr old granddaughter enjoys making potholders. She's given me a few and I love the colors. She also sews them together to make them into pocketbooks. She also enjoys going to plays. Something like that along with a special lunch or dinner with you (and not her big sister!) might be wonderful if you live nearby. She started reading the Harry Potter books a couple of years ago, has now read them all.
posted by mareli at 3:27 PM on August 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

my 8 yr old niece has been begging her dad for a scooter for mooooooonths. she's not particularly sporty, but lights up every time she sees one.
posted by speakeasy at 9:18 AM on August 3, 2019

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions. We settled on a needlepoint kit complemented by an add-on or two.
posted by SemiSalt at 11:53 AM on August 6, 2019

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