The Best Gifts for 8-Year-Olds, According to Child Development Experts
Get your slime on.
The best toys for 8-year-olds are ones that encourage them to use their imaginations and engage in collaborative play. Plenty of activities let your kid just zone out, but toys that require kids to dream up a backstory do much more in the way of learning through play. Interactive toys are winning gifts for 8-year-old boys and girls, because they are more educational, not to mention versatile, which means they have a much longer shelf life and lower boredom factor.
There are some milestones to keep in mind while shopping for holiday toys for 8-year-olds. According to Stanford Children’s Health, 8-year-old boys and girls are still young enough to jump, skip, and chase each other around. They dress and groom themselves (sort of, but parents know better than to leave them totally unsupervised). Many 8-year-olds are able to use tools, can count backward, read to themselves and enjoy it, grasp the concept of space, draw and paint, and collect things. They tell detailed stories and can engage in team sports. Toys for 8-year-olds should reflect that.
By age 8, kids are learning how to relate to peers, adjust to social rules, and evolve from free play to more intricately structured interactions with their friends. Most 8-year-old kids are able to engage in elaborate fantasy role-playing games where they work towards a shared goal. They want to be increasingly independent, even if they can’t handle it, and they’re able to play for longer lengths of time, due to their heightened concentration skills. Great gifts for 8-year-olds, like simple board games, science kits, and sports equipment, will tap into their interests and encourage the use of these new skills.
Every product on Fatherly is independently selected by our editors, writers, and experts. If you click a link on our site and buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.
The Best Tech Gifts for 8-Year-Old Boys and Girls
If you're ready to give your kid more freedom but aren't ready to spring for a phone, this watch is the answer. You can text and call your child and get real-time location and geo-fencing to know where the kiddo is at all times. It's a smart watch with all the features you need, and nothing extraneous. And best of all, he can only contact the folks on his approved list.
If your kid has been begging for a tablet, get him or her one that takes a beating, and is loaded with kids' programming as well as best in class parental controls. The new Fire HD 8 Kids Pro tablet gives kids access to content from National Geographic, Rabbids Coding, and Lego, among many others. Best of all, kids get access to the digital store but with parental controls, so they can request apps, while parents approve purchases and downloads. This time, the browser comes with built-in controls as well. It has 12 hours of battery life.
Having trouble getting your elementary schooler to shower? Eliminate bath time 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, which is plenty for a 10-minute shower.
The Best STEM Gifts for 8-Year-Old Boys and Girls
Think of this as a marble run to end all marble runs. 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. The set is fully modular and levels up with your kids. As they become more experienced, they create ever more challenging runs and stunts. A wonderful screen-free STEM outing.
Sure, crystal growing kits are a dime a dozen. But this one ups the ante. Instead of mere crystals, kids grow crystal-covered trees. What's more: They choose the colors, and watch each one sprouts in just about sdix hours. And there are genuine geodes in each one.
Kids use this digital handheld microscope to capture magical close-ups of anything they spot outdoors, in 1080p resolution on the 4.3-inch, tilt-adjustable LCD screen with a built-in camera. They then save the images on a USB card, and upload them to a laptop, where they can zoom in and really see that leaf in glorious detail. The set includes 10 prepared biological slides, 10 blank slides, 10 slide covers and labels, a mini geode to examine, a 23-slide storage container, and a metal lab stand.
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.
The Best Creative Play Gifts for 8-Year-Old Boys and Girls
Kids never outgrow the magic of a fort. And this 69-piece set really takes fort-building to a whole different level. As they attach sticks and balls into different configurations, they also learn about problem-solving and working together to build the igloo of their dreams.
Sherlock Holmes. Miss Marple. And now, your kid. This standout kit teaches young detectives to gather evidence, and solve crimes, using 26 different experiments. It's a perfect blend of role play and STEM learning, and includes a magnifying glass, an invisible ink pen, fingerprint powder, crime scene tape, and even plaster powder for casting footprints.
A guitar is cool. A guitar that looks like something an actual musician would use is even cooler. This is that guitar. It has ideal intonation, low string action and classical nylon strings, so it's great for beginners. Kids download the app, follow along, and learn to shred.
Crafty kids will dig this set, which has them making some pretty whimsical or weird creatures. They mix the plaster, create their molds, wait for the plaster to set, and then paint the animals they dreamed up. The set includes molds of a dog, cat, horse, parrot, fish, and rabbit.
Lego's creator series is a standout because it's three sets in one. This particular one has kids building a mech toy, cargo carrier and space robot toy. As usual, it's all about the level of detail: The mech, for example, comes with a buzz saw, a jetpack and a face that can change expressions.
Just when you think screens are unavoidable, your kid will surprise you with his or her love of drawing.This art kit has everything your kid needs to draw superheroes, ninjas, animals, soccer players, or fantastical creatures. You'll be pleasantly shocked by how much time they'll devote to getting the details just right.
No, your furniture is not safe. Yes, slime is hella fun. And this set has everything your kids need to make a mountain of it. This jumbo slime-making kid includes all the laundry detergent, glue, mixin bowls and measuring cups you need to make slime, plus instructions, food coloring, beads, and glow in the dark powder, for something we can only dub slime-a-palooza.
This game capitalizes on what all of us know to be true: That the Disney villains are way more complicated and interesting than the heroes. Captain Hook, Maleficent, Jafar, Ursula, Queen of Hearts, and Prince John all star in this family-friendly board game. The object? Help your villain carry out his or her plotted scheme, but be careful not to get thwarted by cards in the fate deck.
Most Harry Potter Lego sets are complex enough to require a week's worth commitment. Not this one. And we particularly like it because it represents where everything started for the boy wizard: The Dursley family's home in Privet Drive. It's where Harry overcame bullying and discovered his magical powers. Something all kids can relate to. The 797-piece set includes Harry, Ron Weasley, Dudley Dursley, and Hedwig the owl, plus the iconic flying Ford Anglia and and Harry’s cupboard under the stairs.
The Best Active Gifts for 8-Year-Old Boys and Girls
Whether you're looking for ways to make your young cyclist more visible or just bring a bit of fun to nighttime riding, these LED lights are a ton of fun. They're waterproof, easy to install, available in a ton of fun colors, and have replaceable batteries for longterm use.
This article was originally published on