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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, and so does the number of gifts for 6-year-olds you’ll need to buy. Suddenly you morph from parent to social planner, shopper and chauffeur. Most kids this age spend five days a week at school with the same group of kids, and inviting everyone in the class is often deemed the polite thing to do. For parents, finding gifts for 6-year-olds can start to feel like a full-time job.

Luckily, the National Association for the Education of Young Children has some clear guidelines on the types of toys that will resonate with 6-year-olds.

The Best Toys and Gifts for 6-year-olds

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 gifts for 6-year-old boys and girls are ones that encourage them to develop confidence, practice teamwork, and get ridiculously silly. These toys do all that and more.

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One of the coolest Lego sets we've ever seen: Kids can build both Kevin and Stuart, and then rebuild Kevin into Bob. And each Minion has a very detailed intricate playroom on the inside.

Think of this as an updated Etch A Sketch: Kids get an electronic notepad and drawing pad with a see-through screen for tracing. Once they draw something, the image can be erased when they press a button. And it can be used over and over and over again.

The updated version of Botley still lets kids engage in screen-free coding. And he's still just as cute. But he now has night vision and does sweet 45 degree turns.

This creativity-boosting kit lets kids design their own charm bracelets and necklaces. It includes 12 charms, plus plenty of trinkets they can decorate.

Space cowboy archeologists dig through 26 different levels to dissect the alien and find the gem hidden inside. Best of all, it comes with its own dissection tray to keep keep the mess nicely contained.

Kids get 17 pieces to build the robot of their dreams and use an app to control their invention. But the thing is fully modular, because it's also compatible with Lego bricks. Meaning the building possibilities are pretty much endless.

The goal here: Build tricked-out motorized vehicles and machines, which can be controlled via an infrared remote control. Kids get 182 pieces and three motors that can be combined to make complicated creations in up to 10 different configurations.

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.

Part chemistry set, part magic kit, this kit shows kids the science behind the magic. Magicians make powders change color, create a test tube crystal ball, and even come up with glow in the dark bubbling concoctions.

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.

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.

Zoobs are cool because they're made up of gears, axels and joints that snap, click, and pop together, allowing kids to build all manner of creatures, cars, and creations. This set includes 250 pieces.

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.

Budding space cowboys get everything they need to build, and launch, a pair of model orbiter spaceships. They also paint model planets, and create a solar system.

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.

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.

Five games fold into one convenient base and carrying case. Kids can kick a soccer ball that will never go missing as it's attached by string to the base, set up the net for a game of volleyball, try their hand at swingball or tailball, or throw the disc back and forth.

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.

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.

Think of it as airborne surfing. With a weight limit of 500 pounds, this ultra-comfortable swing lets kids soar through the air (or just quietly hang out) and thanks to its durable foam-covered metal frame, can support multiple kids at once.

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.

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

This is not your grandma's marble maze. With over 124 cubes, kids can redesign this maze over and over again.

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