Like the bassist in Spinal Tap, your kid has turned it up to 11. Finding age-appropriate gifts for 11-year-olds or kids of any age is tricky — while toddlers are engaged by problem-solving of almost any kind, older kids have their own well-developed interests to consider. The best toys for 11-year-olds, who are caught in that sometimes-tricky spot between little kid and adolescent, should acknowledge that they’re morphing into independent people with their own pursuits and developing social lives.
That makes finding the right gift a challenge — in part because the best birthday and Christmas gift ideas will be dependent on the specific interests of the 11-year-old in question. Some cling to childhood and some blossom quite suddenly into full tweendom. Most, however, swing wildly back and forth between mature and immature behaviors — and remain more than happy to play with a good toy.
Related: Gift Ideas for 10-Year-Olds
Our favorite toys for 11-year-olds encourage the development of their critical thinking and social skills. Yes, devices are fine. It’s the way of the world. But sometimes (okay, as often as possible), it’s a good idea to leave the devices behind and get kids out in the world and doing something that involves real-world interactions with actual people. Here are the coolest, most developmentally appropriate toys and gifts that the 11-year-old in your life will love.
The Best Toys for 11-Year-Olds
A quippy phrase. An inspiring quote. Or just their name. This lightbox is USB-powered and lets tweens create their own personalized DIY signs.
Is it silly? Sure. Does it make it any less worthwhile? Nope. Baby Yoda makes adorable sounds, opens and closes his eyes, moves his head, and giggles and babbles. It's a great gift for any Star Wars fan. Or anyone enamored with this little dude.
Bubble tea is divine. And this kit lets kids make their own. There are two flavors of tea — classic black and rooibos chai — as well as tapioca pearls, and two reusable stainless steel straws. Just add milk.
A sleek metallic backpack never gets old. This one fits a 13 inch laptop, folders and books, and a lunchbox. Plus, it has a front pocket perfect for pens, pencils, wallet, keys, and personal items, and a side pocket for a water bottle. But all that aside, it just looks damn cool.
This ridiculously awesome 910-piece set of bricks turn into buildable, posable tyrannosaurus rex, triceratops and pteranodon skeleton models with displays stands. Fitting for any budding paleontologist.
Traditionally, this symbol wards off bad vibes. Something anyone can appreciate. These earrings are made from either external 14K gold or rhodium plated with internal sterling silver. Because each stud is sold individually, you can mix and match.
Perfectly roomy. Perfectly soft. Just all-around perfect. This fleece, made from 63 percent recycled wool, is the top she'll wear all winter. And spring.
Tweens love anything personalized. And this case delivers. Made from bio-degradable PU, it has an anti-sleep function and camera fold. Choose from a slew of fonts and colors to add nicknames, monograms, and words to make each case utterly unique. Like your kid.
Kids who have maybe possibly outgrown Legos will dig these intricate building blocks. They're from designer James Paulius and the challenge isn't just to create a livable space, but to do so without having everything come tumbling down.
One of the coolest guitars we've ever doth seen, this one is a real six-string and has a corresponding app that helps teach tweens to play, for real. The body is made of basswood and the strings are made of steel.
Get them what they really, really, really want: This best-in-class portable gaming console. This version has green and blue joy-con controllers and a white Nintendo Switch dock. And yes, those are Tom Nook and Nooklings Timmy and Tommy you see as part of the design.
These sock slippers are perfect for chilly winter days (and nights). They're cute enough to appeal to tweens, thanks to the playful pom on top of each one.
Because no one is ever too old for the most important lightsaber in existence. Particularly anyone who watches 'The Mandalorian.'
The relaxed fit looks good on everyone. And this sweater is so soft, it'll have pride of place in your tween's wardrobe rotation. It's made of certified Grade-A cashmere from Inner Mongolia, which means it gets more comfortable the more it's worn.
For kids into vlogging (and let's be honest: That's most kids), this is a complete kit that makes their videos look pretty dope. You get a 32 GB memory card, the new tripod grip HG-100TBR with a detachable Bluetooth remote, and the compact EOS M200 camera. The tripod can be used as a handheld grip to capture high and low shots. As for the camera, it has a self portrait mode that lets filmmakers play with image settings, smooth out surfaces, and blur backgrounds.
These metal letters light up, and they add a totally industrial-cool vibe to any room. Get one letter. Or get enough to spell out a name or a word. Each one is nearly 10 inches tall.
Gamers, rejoice: This exceptionally comfortable headset, with passive noise cancellation, has immersive sound, a detachable, noise-cancelling microphone, and is compatible with the PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and mobile devices.
If your kid needs regular earbuds, these come in cool colors and have 24 hours of battery life. They have built-in Tile tech, so they won't go missing, and they're IP55 sweat, water and dust resistant.
A great toy means kids never run out of ideas, or get bored. Like this toy, which lets kids build and rebuild endless robotic creations with a single kit. The Electric Motors Catalyst gives kids an introduction to electronics, but it's also ceaselessly generative: Kids can use their hands to build anything they can think up by using the motors, wires, and battery pack, without limit or instruction.
Either your kid already has a phone, or is constantly using yours to take pictures. Let them print them up fast and easy with this handy Fujifilm printer. Kids can easily edit and print photos from your (or their) smartphone.
Tweens are really starting to care about how they look and in particular, how they smell. So get them wonderful clay soaps they can use on the face and body. The pink clay soap is great for dryer skin, the blue clay soap is ideal for normal skin, and the bamboo charcoal soap is best for oilier skin. Clean beauty is a largely meaningless buzzword, but this brand makes all its products without synthetic ingredients, parabens, sodium laurel sulfate, phthalates, chemicals, fillers, animal testing, mineral oils, and petroleum.
From the classic Ravensburger line of GraviTrax toys, a starter set to get the uninitiated on the right track. Modular and interactive, without using a single electron of plug-in power, gravity does all the work here, once kids and parents have designed and built their own elaborate marble runs. Lets kids explore physics, kinetics, and magnetism while racing marbles and having fun trying to engineer faster and wilder tracks. More than 100 pieces and 18 different construction elements, so there's plenty to keep enterprising kids busy.
What 11-year-old doesn't want to command an army of insects to crawl all over and conquer their opponent's hive? A boardless board game that kids can take anywhere — fit together tough, octagonal tiles emblazoned with soldier ants, grasshoppers, spiders, and beetles to capture your opponent's queen bee. This is basically bug chess, a great strategy-building game for tweens that's also indestructible. Perfect for road trips and family vacations. Kids can build up their swarm with expansion sets.
STEM toys like this one teach your kids about robotics by way of vibrant mythical fire-breathing beasts. The UBTECH JIMU Robot comes with a corresponding app that allows kids to follow directions to create a buildable, codable robot or invent their own. They use the Blockly coding platform to code this epic creature. It's the STEM version of 'Game of Thrones.'
And now, an even cooler way to draw. This time, you click to extrude heated plastic that hardens fast, allowing kids to draw in 3D, freehand, or over stencils. It gives you an ultra-smooth and enhanced doodling experience. It's faster and more durable than its predecessors for art you can make however you want.
Aspiring engineers can learn all about structural integrity and problem-solving when they build their own bridges, learning along the way how bridges are designed to provide massive weight support over great distances. Kids get the tools needed to build nine working models of bridges, including a beam bridge, arch bridge, truss bridge, cable-stayed bridge, and suspension bridge.
The rules are simple. You squish the mini Playfoam into one of two flexible, non-stick, silicone molds, then press to pop and play, encouraging open-ended play and cooperation between friends and family members. One major goal of the foam is to create Playfoam accessories and have others guess what you made. That makes for good fun with a hands-on toy. Major plus: the PlayFoam won't ruin rugs or furniture.
Devices are great. Devices are fine. But an old-school high-quality art set? That's divine. Little else builds creativity like putting pens and pencils to paper. Kids can do that and much more with this set, which includes 24 colored pencils, 24 oil pastels, 24 watercolor cakes, 60 wax crayons, three mixing trays, two drawing pencils, two paintbrushes, sharpener, ruler, eraser, plus multiple drawing pads.
Kids are natural scientists, whose primary job is to try to understand the world around them — but only a microscope lets them dive into the teeming wilderness of an invisible realm they'll never tire of exploring. This dual-scope microscope, from the makers of real scientific tools, lets kids zoom in on either prepared slides or solid objects, such as insect wings or coins, and study them at 400X magnification. The microscope is lightweight and can be used both inside in the “lab” and outside mid-adventure.
This extremely popular electronics exploration kit comes with everything kids need to learn about electricity and circuits. In terms of play time for the price, this toy is an excellent value. It's also just a really clever toy, with components labeled as they would be in a physics textbook's circuit diagrams and the ability to add even more to the more than 30 included modules.
Our absolute favorite coding robot to date, Cozmo expresses hundreds of emotions, recognizes kids, and remembers names. Kids can play all kinds of games with Cozmo. But what's really cool is that kids can use him as a spy cam or switch him into explorer mode, guiding him remotely, seeing what he sees via a smartphone or tablet. He's like a Wall-E, but in real life. He'll even greet people on command. .
Turn a pretend spa day into a secret science project. This kit will please even a picky tween. Kids use the kit to create DIY bath and body treatments, from a refreshing facial mask to soothing mermaid shimmer gel and relaxing bubble bath bonbons. The recipes are simple and mostly call for ingredients you have around the house. A great lesson in making things from scratch and seeing how ingredients come together.
There's a lot to love about this combination logic game, marble run, and STEM toy. Marbles, STEM, and higher order thinking? What else could a toy have? The 60 challenges included in this package mean there are hours of fun and learning to be had, as kids begin with simple tasks that get progressively harder, all using simple components (towers, a target piece, a grid, and three marbles).
The Swurfer is part old-fashioned wooden swing, part treetop surfer. Made from sturdy water-resistant maple, its curved balance-board design make it extra comfortable and also adaptable — the Swurfer can sway up to 12 feet high and is designed for everything from mellow swinging to practicing snowboard tricks. Weight capacity is 150 pounds.
Your tween likes playing games on the phone? We get it. When they snap their (or your) phone into this controller, they start playing and take mobile gaming to the next level. It's compact, lets kids capture game clips, and offers pass-through charging and audio.
Kids can turn any sunny space into their own experimental darkroom by making sun prints of flowers, action figures... you name it. Sunlight exposes the specially treated paper, creating a perfect silhouette of any object laid on the paper. This kit comes with 15 8x12-inch sheets, which adds up to hours and hours of outdoor fun for restless kids this summer.
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