The Best Gifts for 7-Year-Olds, According to Child Development Experts
From sports to crafts, here's stuff they'll love.
Finding the right toys for 7-year-olds can put even the most seasoned gift-giver to the test: 7-year-old girls and boys have particularly strong opinions about the toys that are out there — and they definitely know what’s out there. In short, unearthing the best gifts for 7-year-olds takes work. But there are a few developmental markers that can narrow down your search.
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By second grade, kids tend to form close friendships and have their own peer group. They might get into team sports or develop a long enough attention span to enjoy painting and drawing. They’re often vocal, opinionated, and very clear about what interests them (and what doesn’t). Most of all they have a developed imagination. The best toys for 7-year-olds might help them write stories, draw intricate pictures, or build and create things. That includes crafty items, sports equipment, and building materials such as Legos and magnetic tiles.
“The most important feature of a toy is that it be open-ended and provide opportunities for exploration,” says Keith Sawyer, a Morgan Distinguished Professor of Educational Innovations at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill school of education, who has spent his career studying creativity and learning.
“It should be something where there isn’t one linear path, where every child does the same thing and there’s the same solution in the end. Kids should be able to play with a toy in a way that the creator of the toy never intended. And they should be able to do so without their parents showing them how.” These gifts for 7-year-olds introduce new concepts and skills while encouraging creativity and imagination.
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The Best STEM Gifts for 7-Year-Olds
Kids can make snow appear, or create square bubbles, with this engrossing and detailed science-based magic kit. In all, there are 20 science experiments teaching magicians how to bend metal with water, create a vanishing test tube, or make a coin float. Prepare to be dazzled.
Get your kids outdoors, and keep them outdoors, with this innovative kit. It includes 15 experiments that get children engaged with the natural world. They launch a recycled rocket, learn about renewable energy sources, make their own solar oven and bake marshmallows, and create a sustainable plant culture. Among many other things.
This absolutely glorious kit includes 60 assorted beads, plus engineered wooden sheets, bands, green, red, yellow and blue walls, and a mirror strip. The rest is up to your child, in this brilliant mashup of STEM and art as your child builds his or her own kaleidoscope.
Botley is a pretty awesome screen-free STEM toy. Kids can program him to do a series of 150 steps, and code it to move in six directions, play music, and put on a light show. He comes with a remote programmer, detachable robot arms, 40 coding cards, six double-sided tiles, 27 obstacle building pieces, and a starter guide with coding challenges.
How great is this? A kit that blends crafting with STEM learning. Kids create their own storylines and add peel-and-stick circuits that light up and stick to paper, fabric, or plastic. A dog with a bone that lights up? A mermaid with a light-up tail? Of course. It's a whole new form of self-expression.
Kids get 55 color-coded, real circuit components that snap together to create anything from a strobe light, to an LED light that changes colors, to a propellor. And they can connect it to an iPhone or other device and play music as the lights change.
The Best Educational Gifts for 7-Year-Olds
At this age, you should be reading to your kids, and they should be reading to you. Take it one step further and let them make their own books with this brilliant kit. This is self-publishing at its best. You get a complete kit for writing, illustrating and publishing a hardcover book, about whatever topic your kid loves. There's even an 'about the author' page.
The Q-Ba-Maze big box includes 194 cubes consisting of different colors and designs to be used as scaffolding, ramps, and paths to help young builders learn basic physics. You can create marble maze sculptures in any form such as animals, robots, towers, and geometric shapes, which encourages kids to think outside the proverbial box.
STEM learning doesn't have to be a chore. Founded by a science museum director and her son, Thames & Kosmos makes educational toys that are super engaging and fun. Young chemists craft soap and bath bombs, testing how look, smell, and work, while exploring the science behind different chemical reactions.
Yes, slime is gross. But it's also pretty damn cool. This kit comes with pre-made magnetic putty, fluffy slime, glow in the dark putty, liquid slime, color-changing putty, snotty slime, bouncing putty, and one packet of slime powder so kids can make their own.
Encourage that green thumb with this gardening kit, which includes everything kids need to play, grow, and harvest veggies and herbs. Each customized kit comes with fully rooted starter plants, and the pots are perfectly fine for city dwellers because they're right at home on a balcony or patio.
The Best Creative Play Gifts for 7-Year-Olds
This HD camera is unbreakable, for starters. And 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.
There are ho-hum marble runs. And then there are marble runs. This is a seriously next level marble run. 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. A perfect blend of STEM, problem-solving, and open-ended creativity.
Playmobil makes some of the most intricate and detailed dinosaur building sets on the market, all of which are actually just challenging enough to put together, without being offputting. This one features a roaring dinosaur, plus a human clad in protective, removable armor and wielding functioning cannons.
Searching for hidden treasure (or money) never gets old, and it gets kids out of the house. Quite possibly for hours. This kid-sized metal detector has adjustable sensitivity to help avoid false positives and has a detecting depth of up to 6 inches. It flashes an LED light when it detects metal.
Talk about a great idea: Kids 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. The kit includes everything they need, and even comes with glow paint because of course it does.
It's next-level string art, as kids work with glow-in-the-dark string, glue, a 15 LED light string and battery box to create their very own star lantern, which they can hang in their room. It's something lovely and tangible that they craft all on their own.
If boredom is an issue, and it's always an issue, Lego's Creator sets are the answer. That's because it's three builds in one. In this case, they build a tree house toy with a balcony, or a biplane toy with a cockpit, or a catamaran with an adjustable sail.
A plane kids can control from your phone, but is guaranteed to get kids off their devices! It connects to your phone, and has a range of up to 230 feet. Plus, the heavy-duty carbon fiber body will survive serious turbulence, and the plane has a built-in launch assist and wind stabilizer. In short, it's awesome.
Having trouble getting your 7 year old schooler to shower? Eliminate sudsy battles with this Bluetooth speaker, which is waterproof (obviously) and can be immersed in water up to three feet. Plus, it delivers 10 hours' of battery life, so your kid can blast his or her music of choice for hours (sorry, not sorry).
Sure, you can buy erasers. But where's the fun in that? This kit comes with eight colors of eraser clay, one pencil, a clay shaping tool, and two sheets of paper craft displays. So kids can make sloth-bacon-football erasers. Or anything else they dream up.
If your kid is piano-curious, this is the way to go. It has built-in speakers and 61 keys with LED lights, so kids follow the lights and learn the basics of playing the instrument. The music progresses only when they play the correct piano key, so there's actual incentive to focus and learn. They also get access to instructional videos, games, and tons of sheet music.
Sometimes, a toy is just damn fun. This is that toy, which looks like something Jeff Koons dreamed up. Squeakee farts, begs, and pees. He reacts to voices, and will roll over for a belly rub. Plus, kids can pop him and then use the pump to inflate him back up.
Avengers, assemble! Each player is one of five baddies (Thor, Hela, Ultron, Taskmaster, or Killmonger) and has to face off against the mightiest superheroes on earth: Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Black Widow, Black Panther, and Captain America. Best of all, the game scales up as players become more adept at carving out their paths to victory.
Retro yet deeply cool, this set features the iconic, time-traveling DeLorean, which has working lights and the mandatory flux capacitor. The set includes Marty McFly, Dr. Emmett Brown, Einstein the dog, the skateboard, and plutonium to make that great lil' movie come to life. Again.