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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.

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The Best Toys for 7-Year-Olds

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.

Perhaps the most perfect crafting kit for kids stuck indoors: Artists make 12 color-wicking paper flowers, and then watch them change their hues as they adsorb ink-filled water.

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.

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.

Screen-free play at its finest: Kids get everything they need to build and decorate three wood robots. We're talking a ton of stickers, as well paints and brushes. Once they're done, they have actual toys with moving arms and legs.

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.

This Mario has a color sensor, plus LCD screens in his eyes, mouth and belly to display over 100 different instant reactions to movement; there's also a speaker that plays music from the game. The concept is great: Mario collects virtual coins as he runs and jumps from the Start Pipe to the Goal Pole.

The Barbie brand pays tribute to one of music's greatest talents: This Ella Fitzgerald doll comes with a microphone and stand, and is fully articulated.

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.

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.

The folks who gave us the Roomba have now created a pretty badass voice-activated coding toy. Kids code the robot, which is responsive to touch, obstacles, light, color, and sound. They can program it to drive, turn, draw, erase, light-up, play music, and vertically climb whiteboards. Which is especially handy when remote learning starts for real this fall.

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.

In this immersive strategy game, which is an homage to the film (and the comic book character, of course), players protect the island of Themyscira from three enemies: Ares, Circe, or The Cheetah.

In a perfect blend of STEM and creativity, this set includes 85 translucent, colorful 3D shapes, enabling kids to build cars and houses and dogs and horses and dragons.

Season two of 'The Mandalorian' is back in October. And this animatronic Baby Yoda giggles, babbles, sleeps, and does other things that are too cute to words. He has a head that moves up and down, ears that move back and forth, and eyes that open and close.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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

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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