Gifts for kids, by age
November 1, 2021 2:23 PM   Subscribe

I need to get gifts for a bunch of children ranging in age from 0-10, and I'm stumped... Can we do a "best gifts for each age" thread? Educational, not overly gendered, not brand-associated, and fun!

To give a benchmark of what kinds of toys I like, I'll comment first with some kid gifts I've given in the past that went really over well. I'm especially on the hunt for kids around age 4-7 as I have a quite few in that age range.

If we all put the age range first, the thread will hopefully be skimmable and useful to a lot of people. Thanks!
posted by nouvelle-personne to Shopping (12 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Newborn - the book Black and White by Tana Hoban. Designed to stand up by itself so baby can gaze at it.

2-4 - Battat Symphony Toy - Plays a bunch of songs and you place the instruments into the orchestra pit to hear how each one contributes to the whole. Really fun, only moderately annoying noise, toddlers are obsessed, and the ways to play can scale in complexity. There's a smaller Rock Band version too.

2-4 - Kinetic Sand - Like Play-Doh but it doesn't dry out or stick to things.

2-4 - Learning Resources Gears Gears Gears Building Set - the pieces hold together firmly which means less frustration for tiny toddlers. Good STEM learning.

3-5 - Kids' graphic novels: Diary of a Pug and Layla and the Bots books. Cute and wholesome with nice role modelling of girls doing STEM. Pug is funnier, Layla has better diversity with a Black female lead, and Layla and the Bots: Built for Speed has a wheelchair-using friend and a non-saccharine accessibility storyline.

4+ - Wooden letter piggy bank (and of course a bunch of coins to start off!) - Beautiful wooden / acrylic letter bank.

4-7 - A cheap sparkly tinsel curtain, which became the entrance for a million theatrical productions.

4-10 - Universal Yums - subscription box of snacks from a different country each month.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 2:24 PM on November 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

I am obsessed with kids getting to personalize their clothing. They love it. A package of decent quality fabric markers and any piece of white apparel from a white jean jacket to a plain white hoodie or a pair of white converse sneakers.
posted by beccaj at 2:56 PM on November 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

0-1 any Sandra Boynton board books. Teething toys. Toys with different textures to feel. Honestly babies don't need much except attention.

2-3 toys with wheels, shapes, snaps, buttons, zippers. Spinny light toys. Soft cuddly animals.

4-5 age appropriate art supplies...finger paints, play doh, washable markers, coloring books. Toys shaped like people and animals. Dress up toys.

5-7 beginning science toys. Toy microscopes, butterfly hatching kit, books about the stars, nature. Puzzles and beginner games. Richard Scarry books.

8-10: all of the previous toys but aged up a bit; card games, outdoor toys, art supplies, general interest books. How Things Work. Basic history books and posters. Harder puzzles. Magic tricks. Gadgets: compasses, cool pens, little machines that make funny noises
posted by emjaybee at 3:00 PM on November 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

As usual, I have to put in a plug for Shrinky Dinks.

4-9 (and older for artsy types): Shrinky Dinks!
[just remember to get the frosted ones, not the clear ones, if you're using colored pencils]
posted by M. at 3:05 PM on November 1, 2021

The Kid Should See This Gift Guide might be useful to you.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:36 PM on November 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

1.5-3: Busy board. There are fancy wooden ones available, but an inexpensive one is fine. It's a bunch of Velcro, snaps, zippers, etc on a board. Great for building fine motor skills and teaching them how to dress themselves. Plus it's a parent favorite - no batteries, noise, or bits and bobs that get lost, no screens, and it keeps kids occupied in the car. Toddlers love to fiddle with them.

1 to 5: pop-up play tunnel. Like those pop up laundry hampers, but it's a fort kids can crawl through. They fold up small, so it's great if the family doesn't have much space or they want to take it to the park. Usually there's Velcro for attaching multiple tunnels together.

4 and up: The Book with No Pictures by BJ Novak. Basically a silly book full of nonsense words. Kids think it's hilarious to read together with their families so their parents have to say things like "my best friend is hippo booboo butt."
posted by champers at 4:21 PM on November 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

costume onesies from age ~4 on up. The big warm zip-up ones that are like animals or pokemons or whatever. They are so useful for last minute "dress up" days, Halloween, playing, staying warm. [ETA yes these are far less educational and improving than fancy games and toys and books: but they get used and loved, unlike most of those educational and improving toys and books.]
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:22 PM on November 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best gift for every age: Stomp Rockets
posted by Toddles at 4:27 PM on November 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

Let me preface that all of these I have been sourcing from either Better World Books or online Goodwill (I know, I know, lots of problematic stuff in terms of Goodwill operations, but I'm doing my darnedest to avoid buying new things and working on the principle of harm reduction and the fact that they are less terrible than the Salvation Army).

3 - 6
Glockenspiel. Maracas. Tread carefully with bongo drums and tambourines, those are way louder.

4 - 6
Farmer Duck book (it's basically a Marxist control of the production / labor but you know, for kids).
Amanda and Her Alligator, the Elephant & Piggie series by Mo Willems.

4 - 8
Lego sets.
Lincoln logs.
Craft kits.

5 - 10
Walkie talkies.
Hand held radios, or Walkman cassette players (with blank cassettes).

6 - 10
Jigsaw puzzles. Rubiks cube (include a Rubiks cube book too).
Ursula Vernon's Hamster Princess series.
Winnie the Pooh books (they hold up well!).
Ramona series by B. Cleary.

7 - 10
Secret Coders book series by Gene Yang.
Tiffany Aching series by Pratchett.
posted by spamandkimchi at 5:27 PM on November 1, 2021

STEM, STEAM & Science Kits for Kids | KiwiCo

I watch a lot of STEAM sorts and have seen bunches of these, like Adam Savage building a portable adjustable drawing desk to little babies putting colorful rings on pegs.

Going back and guessing that 10 is like 4th grade... A small pop-up tent (portable play house). Those tunnels are fun (horrible but by sister and I would throw it in the pool and swim through it... soooo not a good idea).

Like lego but not, just a bit box of wooden blocks, every sunday afternoon my grandfather would go downstairs and haul up this big box of blocks and I'd build things all afternoon. Sometimes simple is better. I think around second or third grade I started building snap-together model kits... airplanes, cars, etc. Lego is dumb like most toys, go more for more like models or erector sets (anybody can lay bricks, screw minecraft).

Personally I like the stupid WTF sort of gift that comes back later like a deck of playing cards (uncle gave me those when I was seven, still have them in university). Like a box of monogrammed pencils.
posted by zengargoyle at 11:08 PM on November 1, 2021

4-7 - magna-tiles, play silks, PVC pipe fort building supplies, giant bubble wand + bubbles, kazoo

all kids - arts and crafts supplies
posted by mgogol at 7:03 AM on November 2, 2021

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