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The Best Gifts for 6-Year-Olds, According to Child Development Experts

Your first grader will love these picks.

When kids enter first grade the number of  birthday parties they attend tends to skyrocket. Suddenly you morph from parent to social planner/chauffeur. Kids this age spending five days a week with the same group of kids, and inviting everyone in the class is deemed the polite thing to do. For parents, finding gifts for 6-year-olds starts to feel like a full-time job.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children has some clear guidelines on the types of toys that will resonate with this age group.

Toys that help with problem-solving, like puzzles and building blocks.

Toys that facilitate pretend play, like transportation toys, construction sets, child-sized furniture, dress-up clothes, dolls with accessories, puppets, and sand and water play toys.

Toys that help kids create stuff, like art sets and modeling clay.

Toys that encourage physical activity, like balls and bikes.

The best toys for 6-year-olds are ones that encourage them to develop confidence, practice teamwork, and just get ridiculously silly.

Fatherly IQ
  1. How stir crazy do your kids get on indoor days?
    Not very. They like being inside.
    For a time, they’re content. But they need to be occupied.
    Very. They’re like caged animals.
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A must for any kid (meaning all kids) intrigued by seeing weird things up close.

This starter microscope is fully functional and gives kids hands-on exposure to science. They can track the lifecycle of a bring shrimp, check out pre-made slides under the microscope or make their own.

A fantastic coding kit that works without screens or devices.

Instead of having to download apps and sync anything up, kids lay down a sequence of physical code cards to program the robot to move around, activate its output gear, light up its LEDs, play sounds, and be a general badass.

What's better than slime? Alien slime, of course.

Kids dissect the alien, pull out the reusable slime, and find the “gem” that could be lurking inside.

Your budding birder can create two vibrant canvases with this lovely string art set.

Kids insert push pins where they want, or they follow pre-set patterns, and use the string to create the specific design they have in mind.

Unlike traditional putty, this one is made of silicone and never dries out.

Choose whatever patterns, colors, and yes, smells, strike your kids’ fancy. Warning: The stuff can be very sticky, so use with caution.

If you'd rather make your own, here's everything your kid needs need to open his or her own slime factory.

Slime has been around since just about forever and never loses its appeal. This set lets kids create whatever color they want. Yes, it’s messy, but it’s also highly creative.

Horse-loving kids will flip for this highly-detailed working stable.

This set, ideal for any budding equestrian, includes a mare, a foal, a rider, plus numerous accessories. Oh, and hay bales, straw bales, and horse snacks.

Because this bike is a single speed, new riders can get the hang of biking without having to shift gears.

This great starter bike has 16-inch wheels for young riders, and fits kids 38 to 45 inches tall. It’s a solid investment to help kids stay physically active, and really, those are the best gifts for 6-year-olds.

Gifts for 6-year-old girls tend to be highly gender-specific, but this one, with unisex outfits and different hairstyles, introduces a more fluid approach.

In a world where dolls can resemble mini-adults trying to look sexy, Mattel’s Creatable World line feels like a breath of fresh air. The premise: Each realistic-looking doll comes with different hairstyles (like closely cropped locks or flowing waves), hats and outfits, and everything can be mixed and matched.

This wee robot is the size of a ping pong ball, but can teach kids big lessons about coding.

This app-enabled mini ball proves that it’s never too early to introduce your 6-year-old to programming concepts. Kids can play three different arcade-type games: Shoot through space, speed through a tunnel and smash bricks. As they advance, they can download a different app that introduces the JavaScript and Swift languages.

This fun STEM toy marries science and creativity, as kids work to first build a skeleton and then add layers of modeling clay to the outside.

You can decide to create a gator, shark, chameleon or, perhaps the coolest, a hybrid creature of your own design. The instructional guide also includes impressive animal factoids.

Open-ended play is the best play and with this set, kids can build the roller coasters and cars of their fantasies.

This killer set includes a motor, which powers whatever your kids build. Speaking of building, kids get 529 parts, including different sizes of connectors, rods, and wheels that click together for whatever configuration they want.

This five foot wide Hot Wheels set has a double figure-eight design with high speed boosters that lets kids race multiple cars and smash them into each other.

The best part of this track: Kids can use the levers to send cars through the ground-level crash zone or into the air for stunning collisions.

This super-cool set gives Lego builders a play experience that combines the endless possibilities of LEGO construction bricks with a continuously updated augmented reality game app.

Once kids are done building the ghost lab, they can scan the LEGO model with a phone to make it come alive and see crazy things happen.

Perfect for a rainy day, this crafting kit lets kids make things not found in nature: A pandacorn, a meowmaid and a narwhal.

Although you might add this to a list of toys for 6-year-old girls, there’s no reason a boy couldn’t get behind these funky creatures. The shapes of these oddball yet cute animals are pre-sewn felt pieces so kids only need to stuff them and decorate them. No sewing, no needles, no problem.

No, you won't let your kid go wild in your kitchen. So get them this STEM set to teach them about acids, bases, pH scale, DNA, electricity, and diffusion through volcanic activities powered by lemon fuel.

Kids can learn to make their own LED lights, citrus rockets, and orange peel candles, among the 26 possible experiments. Cleanup is all you.

What your kids imagine, they can build. The magnetic tiles easily connect, and thanks to a huge assortment of shapes and sizes, kids can create whatever they think up.

These 100 magnetic blocks and tiles blow boredom out of the water. Kids can build castles and forts and bridges and anything else they visualize. They can install windows or spell their names. While these tiles are ostensibly for younger kids, the older they are, the more they’re able to really get a handle on them.

Encourage your budding Annie Leibovitz or Ansel Adams to view the world a little differently with this easy-to-use starter camera for kids.

Your kid can drop this on the ground, throw it down, kick it around (not that we encourage these things but hey, we’re realists), and it will hold up. It’s an actual digital camera with a 2.4 inch color LCD screen and can take photos and videos and, of course, selfies. It’s a cute gift idea for a 6-year-old girl, and boys will have a blast with it, too.

Damn, this thing is just cool. You connect it to the corresponding app, and go to town. It picks up bricks. It has a camera so you can spy on people. And it's a fantastic group toy.

Cozmo expresses emotions and remembers your kids’ name. He lifts his cubes, plays games, and does your bidding. He’s awesome—get him as a gift for the 6-year-old boy who has everything (or his sister!).

No pump? No problem. This unpoppable soccer ball is made of ultra durable popfoam and will never go flat.

Those 6-year-olds are starting to seriously get into group sports. So this soccer ball, which won’t ever pop, is a great investment. It comes in a slew of cool colors, too.

A love of science is just one slime experiment away.

Let you kid play mad scientist with this 18 piece set featuring multiple science themed activities.  If you’re itching to get something with the STEM label, this one checks that box too.

Take dress up to a mystical next level.

Sometimes all it takes to spark a few hours of imaginative pretend play is an accessory. This reversible cape doubles as both a dragon and a knight, so the possibilities are endless.

This portable basketball hoop brings the game to you.

At age 6 it’s unlikely kids can compete with the towering basketball hoops in public parks, but this sleek adjustable hoop will make the game accessible to them, encouraging an active lifestyle. Plus it can be broken down and stored in the briefcase like carrying case, making it just as portable as a basketball.

Because being a master of disguise never gets old

With binoculars, finger print powder, a magnifying glass and more, this spy set will add a little mystery to the mundane.

In trying their hand at over 100 magic tricks, kids will practice following directions, problem solving and pretend play.

Kids harness the power of water to build a stress ball and a mood lamp.

Aspiring scientists get everything they need to create cool stuff, while learning about the characteristics of gases, liquids, and solids.

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