The Best Gifts for 9-Year-Olds
We found great stuff for your third grader.
When looking for the best toys for 9 year olds, you want stuff that doesn’t look like that dreaded three-letter word, but that gets them off their devices and screens (good luck with that) while also pushing them to explore and develop their interests in music, art, and science. Standout 9-year-old gifts for both boys and girls encourage collaborative play, because by the time they enter third grade, they’ve formed strong and complex friendships.
If you have a 9-year-old, or know one, this isn’t news: Kids this age are capable of exhibiting shocking maturity, while also still having jaw-dropping meltdowns over travesties like splinters or lost Lego pieces. He or she is outspoken. Opinionated. Independent. And the best toys for 9-year-olds tap into all those strengths. Kids this age are dealing with greater academic challenges at school, becoming more self-reliant, and, have a stronger attention span, so more intricate board games or logic puzzles will hit the spot, as well as toys that let them get creative and express themselves. And don’t forget that gross things never lose their luster, so slime is a winner. Always. (Hey, books are great, too!)
The Best Arts Gifts
Give your budding artist the ultimate 3D drawing experience with this pen. It's a great way for kids to work on their creative, design, planning, building, and spatial understanding skills. In other words, make tons of cool art. It's easy to use: Plug it in, insert the plastic, wait for it to heat up, and you're ready to go.
Speaking of paper, first kids learn to make their own paper by recycling used paper. And then, they use said paper to make glow planet mobiles, glow dinosaur fossils, or a table- top volcano. It even comes with glow paint. Ecology, plus art, equals a winning combo.
Your kid is into photos, but isn't old enough for a phone? This HD camera is the answer. It's unbreakable, for starters. It has a built-in microphone and special effects, plus 20 animated backgrounds. Best of all, photos and movies can be edited on the camera itself, and need parental permission to be uploaded to an actual computer via USB. The tripod is included.
The Best STEM Gifts
Kids learn all about electric circuits and how the lights turn on, how circuit breakers work, and what happens when the power goes out. How? By using the color- and number-coded building blocks with snaps to build and understand overhead lights, dependent and independent lights, and an infrared controlled lighting system. The set comes with 70 parts including a base grid, IC modules, solar cell, microphone, fiber optic tree, slide and press switches, vertical, snap and jumper wires, battery holder, resistors, capacitor, LEDs, lamp, sound module, transistors, and a meter.
There are ho-hum marble runs. And then there are marble runs worthy of the name. Builders get 153 pieces to put together tile towers, balconies, walls and high-speed tracks to make the absolutely unique and insanely fast marble runs. The set is fully modular and levels up with your kids. As they become more experienced, they create ever more challenging runs and stunts. A wonderful screen-free STEM adventure.
Lego's Creator sets let kids build three sets in one. So yes, they're pretty great. This one in particular has them putting together a medieval castle, castle tower and medieval marketplace. And talk about intricate: The castle has an opening gate, smithy, water mill, king’s room and a prison, and the tower features a working catapult.
Somewhat more challenging is this funky robot. First, using the 387 snap-together parts, kids build the bot, either following instructions or freestyling it. Then, they use Blockly to program it to navigate obstacles and pick-up objects; plus they control its light and sound effects and make it perform all manner of tricks.
If you want to bring science and biology to life, get your kid this wonderful microscope. It has two sets of optical glass lenses providing 20x and 50x magnification, and it lets kids view specimens on slides, or look at 3D objects in detail. The set comes with 10 blank slides and 35 prepared slides (including algae, muscle cells, and plant cells). Plus, they get a petri dish, an eye dropper, a mini geode, brine shrimp eggs and a hatchery station. In other words, all the tools kids need to make their own slides so they can see what a drop of lotion or a fingernail looks like in intricate detail.
Here's a guaranteed way to make STEM learning fun: Do it via these 20 science experiments. Kids learn to bend metal with water, create a vanishing test tube, and make a coin float. And of course, it comes with a requisite magic wand and white gloves.
The folks who gave us the Roomba are now tackling STEM toys. This coding robot responds to touch, avoids obstacles, and be programmed to drive, turn, draw, erase, light-up, play music, and vertically climb whiteboards. It works with the corresponding app and levels up, as your kid becomes more comfortable with coding.
Not only is this set stunning. Which it is. It's also 3D and modular. Kids use components that click and connect to create the cities of their dreams. They can build skyscrapers or schools, stores or cityscapes. The colored floor tiles represent grass, roads, water, or sidewalks. The creations can be modified endlessly.
The Best Tech Gifts
If you're ready to give your kid more freedom but aren't ready to spring for a phone, this watch is the happy middle ground. You can text and call your child and get real-time location updates to know where the kiddo is at all times. It's a smart watch with all the features you need, and nothing extraneous. And yes, your child will send you poop emoji.
Look, you know your kid wants a tablet. So get him or her a tablet that takes a beating, and is loaded with kids' programming as well as stellar parental controls. The new Fire HD 8 Kids Pro tablet gives kids access to content from National Geographic, Rabbids Coding, and LEGO, among many others. Best of all, kids get access to the digital store but with parental controls, so they can request apps, while parents approve purchases and downloads. This time, the browser comes with built-in controls as well. It has 12 hours of battery life.
The Rubik's cube remains ever-popular, but it's something that you used to only be able to play on your own. Not anymore. With this app-enabled Rubik’s cube, kids solve it, solve it some more, level up, keep solving it, and connect with an entire community of fellow gamers. It has 60 hours of play time on a single charge.
This little robot responds to your kid's voice, and he'll actually talk back. Kids learn to program him to do stuff, like tell them a joke or spin or dance. Plus, he'll record a 10 second message and play it back. And naturally, because farting never loses its humor value, this robot goes into gross mode and you can figure out the rest.
Young creators build a robot that walks on a tightrope, using a motorized gyroscope unit. In doing so, they learn about orientation and angular velocity, and the science behind gyroscopic forces. It sounds complex. But this set makes it accessible. And fun.
These walkie talkies don't look like toys. Which is a win-win for this age group. The walkies have 22 channels, and up to 23 hours of battery life. There's a built-in flashlight and the sound clarity is fantastic. Kids can use them when they're hiking, biking, or during sleepovers. Roger that.
One of the standouts at this year's Toy Fair, this toy is fun. And honestly, sometimes that's good enough. It's an all-surface vehicle that flips, rips, and roam all over your home, using any surface available. it's battery-operated, comes with 22 tread pieces, and its track can be extended using boxes or whatever else you have handy.
This expandable charging controller fits most phones. It charges them while your kid plays Minecraft or Roblox or Animal Crossing. And because it charges any Qi wireless enabled phone, you won’t have to worry about cable and connections. Because let's face it: Just about every kid this age would rather be gaming.
The Best Sports Gifts
Once your kid outgrows the scooter, this is a great next step. It's a cruiser-style skateboard, so it's easier to balance on it, and the 62mm x 51mm poured urethane wheels and ABEC 5-speed bearings provide a smooth ride. The weight limit is 110 pounds, so it should last your kid a few years, if not longer.
The Best Games Gifts
This logic game, designed by a Danish architect, teaches kids to think strategically and solve problems under pressure. Four players all go simultaneously, with the goals of stacking the spheres however each card dictates. Each player gets 15 spheres, pulls a card, and plays against the timer to complete the task. The person who gets it right, and thus gets the most points, wins.
Players have a singular challenge here: To match the abstract tiles to images they see on 1 of 60 cards. The shapes are similar to Tangram pieces and help kids with spatial relationships and critical thinking. The game gets increasingly harder, so it levels up with the players.
So your kid is sick of unwanted siblings sneaking into his or her room? This is the answer. This felt letter board, which is available in more than 30 different bright or neutral colors, comes with more than 300 letters, numbers and special characters like hashtags. To spell out anything, like KEEP OUT.
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