Our Favorite Gifts for 6- to 10-Year-Olds - Updated September 2019

Finding a memorable gift for an elementary schooler can be challenging. Toy fads are hard to keep up with, often inscrutable (what even is Beyblade?), and all too quickly relegated to the donation or junk pile. Our favorite gifts for this age group have long shelf lives; invite kids to build and play with siblings, friends, and the adults in their lives; or offer a gateway to the wonders of the wider world. If you have any go-to presents for this age, please share them in the comments.

If you’re looking for a gift for a younger kid, check out Our Favorite Gifts for 1- to 3-Year-Olds and Our Favorite Gifts for 3- to 6-Year-Olds.

$20 and under

Legos that go the distance

My kids, ages 6 and 8, get a lot of mileage out of these Lego sets. While less mobile sets are fun to build and satisfying to look at on the shelf once completed—like the Saturn V we did as a family project—these vehicles can be combined, raced, and sent over jumps (unlike most Lego vehicles they have a pullback mechanism that lets them go on their own). My kids have been designing obstacle courses for the cars out of the recycling and getting more use out of these than they have out of any other Lego set in the past.

For beginner planeswalkers

Magic: The Gathering is a collectible card game where two or more players battle against each other with their own customized decks. I’ve been playing Magic for 24 years, and now my kids are old enough to enjoy the game as well. They play each other all the time, battle with their friends from school, and we compete in tournaments as a family. It’s a great game, as it’s portable, no two games are the same, and everyone can customize their deck to fit their own personality and play-style. Though it isn’t too hard to learn, there’s enough depth to the game that you can have 20-plus years of playing under your belt and still find ways to improve. It also helped encourage both of my kids to improve their reading and math when they started playing at age 6. This set is a good way to get started for a new player.

Between $20 and $50

Tie-dye DIY

Last update on 2019-09-19 PST - Details

This tie-dye kit is meant to supply enough materials for a group to dye together, but I like that one or two kids can get a lot of mileage and experimentation out of it on their own (with some parental supervision). The little plastic bin comes packed with squeeze bottles in 14 vibrant colors, along with gloves, rubber bands, and some step-by-step directions for achieving different effects. Garments are not included.

Keep the game going after dark

Even if you live where the winter nights are temperate enough to be outdoors, it’s tough for kids to play their favorite sports once the afternoon grows short—even in a lit backyard or driveway it can be tough to see a ball well enough to avoid the occasional face shot. GlowCity’s regulation-size soccer ball and basketball solve this problem by lighting the ball from the inside, letting kids play as late as they want to (or at least as late as you let them). The company also makes a football, but we haven’t tried it.

Instant dance party

Last update on 2019-09-20 PST - Details

What kid doesn’t love a disco ball? These small, inexpensive lamps can sit on a table or mount on a wall, giving you all of the multicolor-light goodness of a classic disco ball without the huge, hanging ball and spotlights. And unlike with a real disco ball, you can use the included remote to change light colors, patterns, and speed—it even has sound-activated modes to pulse along with the beat of your kid’s favorite songs.

Over $50

Get them moving

Last update on 2019-09-20 PST - Details

Children need regular exercise, but most don’t get anywhere near enough. Though I don’t want my kids obsessing over fitness and weight, the swimming-safe Vívofit Jr. is a fun way to keep them motivated by tracking daily steps and activity, and syncing that activity to a kid-friendly app. They love that they can compare their progress—in person and in the app—with friends and family, and the activity-based adventures have resulted in more than a few “I want to walk to school today” declarations. We can also set up and track daily chores in the app, and by completing those tasks and exercise, our kids can earn virtual coins they can redeem with us. It’s also a capable watch, alarm, and task timer, and it’s available in a variety of fun designs.

Instant ambience

Last update on 2019-09-20 PST - Details

Philips’s smart bulbs fit in any standard light socket but let you choose from 16 million colors and shades, turning a basic bedroom lamp into an ambient-light experience. You can control the bulbs remotely using any smartphone or Philips’s excellent programmable switch, or automate them using smartphone apps and voice assistants—our kids love the third-party app that puts on a light show using their favorite songs. (Philips also makes a nifty table lamp that makes a great night-light and reading light.)

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