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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.

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 toys that are out there — and they definitely know what’s out there. In short, unearthing the best toys 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.

The Best 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.

Screen-free play at its finest: Kids get everything they need to build and decorate three spacecrafts. This fantastic kit includes three spaceships, as well as paint and paint brushes

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.

Want to get kids off their screens? Get this unholy but incredibly fun mashup of foosball and air hockey. It comes fully assembled, and can be played on any flat surface.

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.

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.

Unleash their creativity with this tricked-out jewelry kit, which includes eight thread skeins, 40 felt strips, 692 assortments of beads, 120 jump rings, two needles, and carrying case with handle. They can spend hours creating the bracelets and necklaces of their dreams.

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 learn all about electricity by using the snap circuits kit. They can create a close circuit, make Sparky the robot light up, and learn about Morse code through 19 experiments. The kit includes Sparky, four snap wires, one battery holder, one base grid, two lamps, one color LED, a motor, and a glow-in-the-dark fan blade, plus other stuff they need to make things light up.

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.

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.

Make science accessible with this wonderful microscope. It comes with 10 prepared slides with a range of biological specimens, plus blank slides so kids can create their own. The scope has two sets of optical glass lenses providing 20x and 50x magnification. Kids can see what's in a drop of water, or what a cat hair looks like close up.

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.

Another great coding toy, this one has 200+ reactions, based on what kids program using the drag and drop coding interface based on Blockly by Google. Kids connect the pieces to build whatever robot shape they can dream, and it can dance, race around, and drive. It has a built-in microphone and camera, plus a touch sensor and a distance sensor. Because the starter kit comes with 12 modules, it's fun without being intimidating.

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

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).

A great quote can uplift, inspire, entertain. Kids get 36 quotes that speak to them, to arrange in an artistic collage. Bonus: It's a nice reading lesson.

Lego's Dots line is cool because the payoff is having actual, usable items that kids made themselves. In this case, a multicolored box with two compartments, a photo holder and an opening drawer. Think of this is an upgraded crafting project.

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.

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.

This cool as hell 3-string guitar has an accompanying app, so kids learn to play, for real. Loog's 3-string guitars reduce chords to the basic triad, making the learning process faster and easier.

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.

A building kit and jam session in one: Kids put together three instruments (a pan flute, an ocean drum, and a box guitar) and then learn to play them.

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.

A two-sided game that's perfect for cold winter afternoons, this one has shuffleboard on one side and flick-the-disc on the reverse side. It's made from sustainable wood, and is great for group and family play.

Foosball that isn't an eyesore: This is the design-forward table-top version of the classic game. The rules remain the same: Kids twist or move the bars to kick the ball to the opposing goal. It's made of rubberwood.

Chic and retro, Melody Ellison rocks a 1964 look. She's in a houndstooth A-line dress, patent leather shoes, and of course, sunglasses. She has a soft cotton body, and her movable head and limbs are made of vinyl. She's just all-around cool.

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.

Budding filmmakers shoot and edit videos using this HD video camera with a built-in microphone and special effects like time-lapse video and green screen. It comes with on-camera editing software and a tabletop tripod/selfie stick. The memory is expandable using a microSD card.

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.

If like so many kids, yours is into gaming, this one is a winner. Kids build a community from scratch on a deserted island, customize their characters, and bond with other residents.

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.

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.

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