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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 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.

The Best Gifts for 7-Year-Olds 

Because tie dye never gets old. This handy and easy DIY kit comes with six dyes, pipettes, clothespins, and gloves.

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.

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.

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.

The very definition of open-ended play is this 600 piece kit. With this specific line, every brick connects to the next brick, so builders either make mosaics, or can work in 3D to being their builds to the next level.

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.

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.

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.

A wonderful intro microscope for beginner scientists, this one has glass objective lenses that let kids zoom in with three magnification levels: 40x, 100x, and 400x. It also has dimmable led lighting for easier visual identification. Best of all, the knobs are sturdy and easy to turn, so kids can adjust the focus as needed.

A pretty great mash-up of crafting, art, and STEM: This kit has kids following prompts on cards to create their very own robot, musical instrument, and game. It comes equipped with everything they need, from paper to foam to twine to rubber bands.

Kids assemble 3D puzzles, and then paint them however they want. A nice way to flex those creative muscles, coupled with problem-solving skills.

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.

How does a sunny day suddenly go belly up, and ruin your planned beach outing? Kids track weather patterns, collect rainfall data, measure windspeed and direction, and learn how clouds form by using this handy, easy-to-follow science kit.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A DIY storage box: The book-shaped box has a working lock and includes a storage tray. The 273 piece encourages creativity while also helping second graders learn to problem solve as they figure out what brick goes where.

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.

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.

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.

Star Wars fans can recreate the Battle of Hoth from the epic classic 'The Empire Strikes Back' with this set, which even includes the Millennium Falcon Microfighter.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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