The Best Gifts for 8-Year-Olds, According to Child Development Experts

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.

The Best Toys for 8-Year-Old Boys and Girls 

So your kid is into space travel? Of course she is. This 240-piece building kit lets your budding astronaut build a four-level Mars rocket, complete with a flight deck and engine room. The finished product is a whopping 2.5 feet tall.

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.

Brilliantly simple and simply brilliant: Kids make their own paper by recycling used paper. And then, they use said paper to make glow planet mobiles, glow dinosaur fossils, or a table- top volcano. It even comes with glow paint because of course it does.

If you'd rather go the more traditional route, this microscope is a winner. It has two sets of optical glass lenses providing 20x and 50x magnification, and it lets kids view specimens on slides, or look at 3D objects in detail. The set comes with 10 blank slides and 35 prepared slides (including algae, muscle cells, and plant cells). Plus, they get a petri dish, an eye dropper, a mini geode, brine shrimp eggs and a hatchery station.

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.

Ahhhh, a fantastic mash-up of squishies and human organs. With this set, kids cast organs in different colors and arrange them in a transparent plastic torso. This means they mix up slime, pour said slime into the molds, and wind up with a heart, lungs, kidneys, stomach, large intestine, small intestine, and liver. Next thing you know, you'll have a med student on your hands.

Speaking of art, kids use this kit to create their very own comic books or graphic novels. Marvel, shmarvel. This kit includes a DIY blank comic book, markers, stencil templates, rubber stamps, ink pads, bottles of ink, and a storage box. The only thing missing is the superhero cape.

Kids use play dough to learn the basics of electrical circuits in a hands-on way. This great set teaches electrical circuits with conductive and insulating dough, letting kids squish, mold, and sculpt the dough while learning about engineering and tech.

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.

Friendship bracelets are everything. And this kit, with its spinning loom, makes creating them super-easy. But not too easy. Using the included 18 skeins of thread, designers can change the thickness, looping style, thread quantity, and color combinations of each bracelet.

Get kids out of the house with this science kit, which lets them learn about botany, geology, entomology, chemistry, physics, and hydrology by making the concepts relatable and fun. The set includes a UV night scope, a bug catcher, a nature scope viewer with magnifying lens, 10 pH test strips, and a guide to how everything works and how to use it.

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.

Foosball, but make it air hockey. This set includes 3D players clad in Maple Leaf and Red Wing uniforms; the control rods are easy to move, and there are puck ejectors in each goal and the goalies toggle from side to side.

Kids this age love to express themselves in all manner of creative ways. And this USB-operated thought cloud message board lights up and illuminates what's written on it, whether it's a quote, a brilliant idea, or just whatever comes to mind.

Kids this age really get into geography. This globe, when used as is, is a highly detailed representation of where oceans and countries and rivers are located. When it goes into night mode, it shows the stars and constellations that light up the sky. Magic.

Want to get kids interested in greens? Here's how. Kids can watch plant growth from root to leaves with this self-supporting, transparent planter, which is hardy and easy to use. It's science in action, as plants develop roots and leaves. The set includes bean and pea seed packets, plus enriched soil, and the planter can sit on a windowsill or table.

An immersive experience for kids who love music: Build the set, download the app, and see their character come to life within their music video complete with unique dance moves and special effects.

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.

Unleash your 8 year old's creative side with this insanely cool jewelry kit, which includes eight thread skeins, 40 felt strips, 692 assortments of beads, 120 jump rings, two needles, and carrying case with handle. It all adds up to friendship bracelets and necklaces galore.

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.

As with Legos, kids can create endless robotic objects with this one single kit. They build robots with 10 challenge cards, wood, electric motors, and hardware.

Kids use a hammer to break open rocks to reveal credible, stunning crystals inside. And yes, these are real, actual geodes. The set includes 10 different geodes, plus safety goggles. The hammer is all you.

Because red and yellow are just too boring. This kit lets kids make 16 of their own markers, choosing the specific shades they want and mixing them together. It's STEM coupled with creativity.

The great thing about Lego's Dots line is that kids have an actual product they can use when they're done building it. In this case, a box for jewelry, pencils, crafts, or anything else; it's next-level crafting.

Everything you need to learn and perform 100 magic tricks is contained within this kit. That means separating salt and pepper and turning oranges into apples.

Yes, this is a real camera and no, your kid won't be able to break it unless he or she really, really, really tries their best. This thing is hardy, and it has a 2. 4 inch color LCD screen. Kids can shoot photos and videos using either the front or rear camera, which is perfect for selfies.

Kids this age love self-expression, and this board comes with four styluses so they can scribble to their heart's content. Each stylus has a different tip shape, for creating different textures. And when your kid is done drawing or writing, you hit the reset button to start again.

Inventors build a robot that walks on a tightrope, using a motorized gyroscope unit. In doing so, they learn about orientation and angular velocity, and the science behind gyroscopic forces.

Armed with 270 cut-out props, and plasticine modeling clay that never dries out, kids may very well create the next Wallace and Gromit.

Fun fact: Billie Lourd spent her quarantine building Lego architecture sets and now displays them around her house. That's because they're challenging enough to keep people engaged, and the finished products are works of art. This one pays tribute to London, with the National Gallery, Nelson’s Column, the London Eye, Big Ben, and Tower Bridge.

A brilliant kit that lets budding architects design and build structures with lights, sound, and motion; the modular building system lets kids add and stack floors in all sorts of configurations, and decorate with tiny furniture and plants.

Because trying to get a bean bag through a wood hole never, ever gets old. The more players, the merrier.

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.

Use this microphone's Bluetooth functionality to stream audio from any music or karaoke app, and then kids can belt their hearts out; the battery lasts six hours and is rechargeable.

Part vision board, part Pinterest come to life, this 3D wall art kit puts your kid's individual style on display. The kit includes enough materials to make a collage measuring 5.5' wide x 3.5' high, and comes with 251 pieces, including cardstock prints, sticker sheets, foam spacers, and wall-safe tape. Plus, there's plenty of room to add individual accents, like photos and personalized stickers.

Not only is this set beautiful. Which it is. It's also 3D and modular. Kids use components that click and connect to create entire cities or neighborhood or planets or or or. They can build skyscrapers or schools, huts or playgrounds. The colored floor tiles represent grass, roads, water, or sidewalks. The creations can be modified endlessly.

Think of this as seriously upgraded Play-Doh: It's handmade in New York, from food-grade ingredients, and this set includes nine colors. It stays fresh for 4-6 months, and the colors stay vibrant if they're refrigerated. It's free play and creativity at its best.

So no, we're not going to any soccer or football games these days. Which makes it all the more enriching for kids to design their own stadiums. This modular set lets them create basketball or tennis or boxing or soccer arenas. These sets, designed by architect Damien Murtagh, are wonderful architectural modeling systems.

In this card game version of a food fight, players compete to create the weirdest, craziest meal.

By eight, your kid will be heavy into team sports, so get him or her this portable hockey set.Games for 8-year-olds ideally encourage them to burn off energy. This set is stupid-easy to set up, and includes everything kids need to play street hockey and knee hockey. That means two adjustable plastic street hockey sticks, two ABS knee hockey sticks, one street hockey ball, and two foam knee hockey balls.

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.

It's the ultimate coding robot that's actually a tank-style all-terrain vehicle.This programmable tank on wheels is drivable right out of the box, packed with sensors, and built for customization. Kids use the app to make the vehicle do whatever they want. It has enough torque to go fast, make that very fast, and it dodges obstacles with finesse.

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.

The Toilet Paper Blaster is an exciting toy for 8 year olds. The concept is simple. A blaster that shoots toilet paper. Boom.This magical, or magically evil, blaster transforms regular toilet paper into high-powered spitballs that shoot up to 50 feet.

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.

You'll never strike out with this tabletop bowling game, which brings the alley to your house (minus the nasty shoes).Personalized bowling shirts are optional with this tabletop game, which is compact and includes one bowling alley board, one launch ramp, two mini bowling balls, ten pins and a dry-erase scoreboard. The premium wood surface is a bonus. See, gifts for 8-year-olds don't always have to be electronic.

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.

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