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The Best Gifts for 7-Year-Olds, According to Child Development Experts

From sports to crafts, here's stuff they'll love.

Parents know how hard it can be to meet the demands of the children’s birthday party circuit at any age. But finding the right gift for a 7-year-old can put even the most seasoned gift-giver to the test: 7-year-old girls and boys have particularly strong opinions about the kinds of gifts and toys that are out there — and they definitely know what’s out there. In short, finding the best gifts for 7-year-olds takes work. But there are a few developmental markers that can narrow down your search.

By second grade, kids tend to develop 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 Toys for 7-Year-Olds

File this under ‘cool gifts for kids’ of any age and, OK, adults as well. Kids (or adults) can quick-draw this blaster and fire off six darts in a row, up to 90 feet. That's a lot of feet, folks.

Sometimes the best toys do the least. This soccer ball gets kids off their screens, and has them playing outdoors with their peers. Score.

Sports are key at this age, so we're betting this door pong kit (it's ping-pong, sans table) will make for hours of fun. The clamp attaches to any doorway, which makes it ideal for inside play.

The Q-Ba-Maze big box includes 120 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. Thirty marbles included

Crafting is a great activity for kids this age. Sculpey clay stays soft and malleable until the epic art creation is finished, at which point you just bake it in your oven. Yes, you'll wind up with misshapen coffee mugs. And yes, your kid's imagination will run fairly wild.

Crafting toys are a major hit with this age group. And this one from Alex lets kids make unique personalized cards for any occasion. Kids can stamp their own patterns, and the set includes printed cards, envelopes, stickers, paper shapes, gems, adhesive foam, wooden stamps, stamp pad, washi tape, twine, and a glue stick. Creativity, not included.

This brainpower-boosting toy is sort of like a linear Rubik's Cube. The interconnected 'cogs' rotate 255 degrees, so they can bend and twist into different shapes and patterns. Coggy comes with a book of challenge patterns — from easy to brain-bustingly difficult — which kids try to replicate. Also like a Rubik's Cube, this is a toy they can take with them wherever they go.

Got a kid who is constantly collecting acorns, flowers and leaves? They need this gorgeous set. A flower press, magnifying glass, scissors and a notebook are included to help your explorer preserve and study his or her treasures. Moulin Roty is a French company known for their exquisite craftsmanship and playful products such as tiny mice, wooden pushcarts and gorgeous nursery linens.

Construction toys are key gifts for 7-year-olds, and let them engage in hours upon hours of open-ended play while building stuff they dream up. This construction set has 679 parts which can be combined into a working crane that actually lifts things. It will encourage the development of fine motor skills, manual dexterity, and spatial awareness.

Dominos might be old school, but their potential for teaching kids about gravity and kinetic energy goes back to before STEM was the buzzword of the day. This deluxe domino set, with slides, spirals and stairs, encourages exploration, open-ended play and the refinement of motor skills.

Take volcano making to a whole new level. This surprise-inside set features several layers of mystery. Kids won't know whether their volcano contains fire or ice until they erupt it, and they'll have to do some digging to uncover what action figures are hidden inside. Once they carve away at the silky, gel-like volcano, they just might find genuine gold-dipped treasure.

The ingenious Gravitrax interactive track system lets kids design and build their own race tracks and experiment with gravity, magnetism, and kinetics.

Your aspiring FBI agent learns how to detect and collect fingerprints with this kit, which contains 10 fingerprint cards, dusting powder, stamp pad, brush, and stickers.

It's like a batting cage, but for soccer balls. You blow up the string-attached soccer ball, fill the base with sand or water, adjust the cord length and start kicking.This soccer set works on any surface, and is an outstanding way for kids to build endurance and muscle, improve balance and coordination, and home gross motor skills and reflexes. Plus, it's just fun.

Draw out your kid's coloring time a little longer with this creative kit. Kids can practice their drawing and storytelling skills with this kit, which includes blank comic strips, stencils, stamps and ink.

Dressing up is a major part of pretend play, and this costume cape is one of the coolest we've ever seen.

This kit is small but mighty, with directions for over 50 experiments. Kids can create slime, erupt a volcano, grow glow worms, create a tornado in a bottle, and do 12 other experiments just with the supplies included, not to mention the directions for 34 additional experiments involving pantry staples.

Kids love to draw, but keeping all that gear in one place is a challenge. This killer set includes everything budding artists need to unleash their creativity. You get more than 60 pieces from colored pencils to markers, all packed in a great reusable carrying case.

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.

Play dough but make it STEM. Dough figures come to life with lights and sounds with this beginner electric circuit kit. Insulating and conductive dough let kids learn about electric circuits with hands-on play.

Make science fun again. This science kit is branded for girls, but boys will also get a kick out of using a technique called paper chromatography to separate colors through 12 different experiments. The beakers and safety goggles included lend it authenticity, too.

Kids can design, build and operate six different robotic arms, introducing 7-year-olds to the basic concepts of mechanical engineering.

With the rare ’90s toy that aged well, users can turn rocks into gemstones or kill a few hours trying. The kit comes with nine starter rocks, but kids will be encouraged to get outside and collect their own.

This art set includes 24 colored eco-pencils, eight watercolor pencils, two grip graphite pencils, 18 oil pastels, 12 washable markers, a paint brush, and artist paper, all from one of the most storied brands in the biz.

This supercool 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.

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.

Soon enough, your kid will be old enough to read all about the boy wizard. For now, he can wave his wand around and cast magic spells.

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