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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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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.

Offbits are specifically-designed nuts, bolts, springs, and wheels that let kids create all manner of vehicles or creatures. This set in particular lets them build a motorcycle, which they can rebuild into a roadster or a robot. All the Offbits pieces are compatible and modular.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!).

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 interactive elephant will react to your touch. Juno can play peek-a-boo, do tricks with her peanut, and make over 150 sounds. Playing with her will bring something new every time.

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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