It’s a safe bet that if your 6-year-old’s birthday is fast approaching then you already have a good idea of what they want. (Funny how kids aren’t shy about asking for stuff.) But as you’re also well aware, there’s a big difference in life between wanting and getting ⏤ especially when what you’re wanting is cheap crap you saw in a TV commercial. Teach your kids that lesson by ignoring their daily reminders and giving them one of these much cooler gifts instead.
Octopus Watch By Joy
Because few things are more frustrating as a parent than a toddler who consistently shows up late to family meetings (did we say 8 or 8:30?), Octopus by Joy is a colorful, icon-based watch for kids who can’t tell time, but still need to get stuff done. It comes pre-loaded with 600 icons that represent daily activities — from “Wake Up” to “Brush Your Teeth,” to “Feed the (Jelly) Fish” — and parents can program their kid’s schedule via the iOS/Android app. Time to “Eat Breakfast”? The cereal-bowl icon lights up. Time to get dad a beer? You still have to do that analog.
These 3-string beginner guitars make playing music easy without dumbing down the sound. Every one includes a printed guide and link to the Loog Academy app for more lessons, and comes unassembled because damned if every toy isn’t a building toy. Truthfully, they do that to strengthen the bond between player and instrument, or the bond between father and child learning how it felt to assemble their IKEA bedroom set.
GoldieBlox Invention Mansion
How is she ever going to learn critical architectural skills and get into to MIT by age 16 if you build the damn dollhouse for her? Invention Mansion is a construction kit that teaches girls 6+ uber-essential STEM skills as they construct the dollhouse of their young dreams. It comes with 2 mini-figurines, 350 pieces, and a million (or, at least, a lot) of potential configurations, all of which can be tricked out with everything from bridges and balconies, to trap doors, ziplines, and climbing walls.
KinderGuides are essentially Cliff Notes to classic literature for 6-year-olds. Specifically, they’re illustrated learning guides designed to teach your kids about iconic novels (Old Man And The Sea, Breakfast At Tiffany’s, On The Road, etc.) you “read” in high school. Each book is illustrated by a different artist and contains kid-friendly sections about the author, plot, and main characters. Whether or not they discuss the significance of animal motifs related to Holly’s untamed freedom, however, remains unclear.
Like music players of yore, this app-controlled “magical music player” doesn’t have a touchscreen. Rather, it lets kids choose which Kidz Bop song they want to hear simply by placing one of the included action figure/figurines on top of the speaker. Great! Until they lose all the figurines and are stuck listening to “24K Magic” on repeat. (Just kidding — you can buy more!)
A LEGO bike is cool, but a LEGO bike you can ride is even cooler. That’s the power Infento enables your kid to lord over their friends as they pedal out-of-the-box big wheels like suckers. While their parents dump and buy a new plastic ride every 6 months, you and your kid simply rebuild Infento, from wagon to trike to scooter to go-kart — with optional add-ons for snow. Ride around singing, “Mr. Plow, that’s my name, that name again is Mr. Plow.”
Dato DUO 2-Person Synth
Since children never sleep anyway, you may as well just ship them off to Ibiza to make that crazy DJ money. The Dato DUO is a cleverly designed synthesizer from the Netherlands designed to keep 2 kids entertained at once by making literal house music. One side of the board is a “flashy” sequencer with keyboard-like buttons for playing/looping a melody. The other side is a “gritty-sounding” synthesizer with 2 large sliders and dual touchpads – one to add percussion, the other to achieve an “aggressive bit crusher” effect. Only this one doesn’t need a bag of frozen peas and a few days off of work.
LightUp Edison Kit
Kids snap together magnetic components like batteries, LED lights, and buttons to build any kind of gizmo, then photograph it with the LightUp tutor app, which shows via overlay the flow of electricity or things they need to fix. Once complete, devices are programmable via any browser. Your kid will be equally equipped to become a programmer or an electrician. Or help you get those damn Christmas lights to stop blinking.
LilGadgets Connect+ Headphones
Music is one of the few things that kids actually like to share, and LilGadgets lets them daisy chain headphones together to form one giant kindie conga line. The foldable ‘phones come in 5 colors and have a max volume of 93 dB (still safe, but designed to overcome car and air travel noise). There is one curious feature: An inline mic that let’s your kid make important hands-free calls to — grandma?
Radio Flyer’s Tesla Model S For Kids
For only $71,000 less than the grown-up model, your future Elon Musk can zip around the neighborhood in a miniature, battery powered replica of the Tesla Model S. The base model’s equipped with all the bells-and-whistles that kids have come to demand in their luxury vehicles: Forward and reverse, a trunk, a working horn and headlights for night riding, and a sound system/audio jack. But what you’re really looking for in a cul-de-sac cruiser is a fast-charging, lithium-ion battery that lasts way longer than the Barbie Corvette.