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Buying for 8-year-olds can be tough. They aren’t quite tween, they aren’t quite little kids and they have a strong sense of what they like and what they don’t like. It’s easy to give them a toy that they’ll be excited about for a hot minute, but finding toys they’ll love long after the wrapping paper has been recycled is a little bit more challenging.
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We got insight from toy experts The Toy Guy’s Chris Byrne, ToyPortfolio co-founder Stephanie Oppenheim and Toy Insider’s senior editor, Maddie Michalik; all of them said the same thing, that 8-year-olds like gifts that can give them a sense of independence and that can help them dive a little bit deeper into their own unique interests.
We searched far and wide, and did a whole lot of testing, to bring you a list of the most award-winning and absolute best Christmas gifts for 8-year-old kids.
1. For the budding geologist: A mega crystal-growing lab
This impressive crystal-growing kit creates eight fast-growing and colorful crystals for a fascinating STEM activity. When the crystal-growing is complete, they can be arranged on a light-up display base that can double as a big-kid night light, as well as a proud exhibit of their work. The kit also comes with five real (and fairly sizable) crystal samples from around the world.
2. For the TikToker: Let’s Glow Studio
Give their TikTok videos a glow-up with this cool black-light video-making kit. This kit is loads of fun and gives kids everything they need to unleash their inner costume and prop designer. It comes with cool stencils and special black-light stickers, fabric strips and accessories to give kids everything they need to set the stage. After the crafting is complete, simply dim the lights, clip the accompanying 16-color LED glow light to your phone and they’re ready to go!
3. For the serious gamer: A Nintendo Switch
With a huge library of top games, including Minecraft, Super Mario, Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley, Pokémon and more, Nintendo has some of the most kid-friendly video games around, many of which are actually expert-recommended (so you don’t need to feel too guilty when your kids are stuck on screen time). The Nintendo Switch is the best way to play those games! The hybrid nature of this gamer must-have makes it an innovative home console as well as a portable gaming system. The great battery life and the incredible selection of games make this our top choice for any 8-year-old.
4. For the curious cartographer: A constellation globe
This isn’t any ordinary globe. If you have a kid who is curious about the world, they’ll love this. This award-winning globe not only features all that you’d expect (continents, oceans, major rivers and political borders), it also comes with a cool card game filled with fun facts that you can use to learn even more about the world and cultures around us. Then (and this is where it gets really cool) at night it turns into a constellation map and nightlight in one.
5. For a kid who’s a DIY-er: A cool jewelry dish that’s TikTok-approved
Polymer clay is a fun and creative craft medium that is gaining popularity on TikTok and beyond. A non-toxic, fast-drying clay, it’s a great crafting medium for kids that have grown out of Play-Doh and want to take their clay work up a notch. This DIY polymer clay dish is an awesome entry into this sort of clay crafting and teaches all sorts of cool skills like shaping, marbling and finishing. In the end, they have a super-useful nicknack tray to keep or to give away.
6. For the kid on the go: A 2-wheeled scooter
If they’re ready to level up in their scooter game, the Jetson Jupiter is the best 2-wheeled scooter of all that we tried. It’s a classic, metal-framed 2-wheeled scooter but, with over 100 LED lights on both the body and the wheels, it’s just the scooter to impress the neighborhood. It’s also lightweight and easy to fold, making it an immensely portable option for all of their wheeled adventures.
7. For the one who likes to tune you out: Puro Headphones
Age 8 is right about when they want to start tuning you out, so it’s a good time to find some high-quality, volume-limiting headphones. The Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Kids’ Headphones have taken top marks in our testing. Our family loves them for their high sound quality, stylish look, durability and for their great price. I’ve been known to steal our son’s pair, so we can personally vouch that this top-notch pair will take them well into their tween years and beyond.
8. For the one who wants to drone: An affordable drone that’s kid-friendly
If you’re like us, your child has been begging for a drone. This option is not only well-priced, it gets enthusiastic reviews for being durable and easy to master. We like that it comes with two power stations and that it lights up with LED lights, for an experience that can keep going well past sunset.
9. For the kid who dreams of game design: Pixicade
Do your kids dream of making their own video game? Do you wish they would do something more creative? Everyone’s dream will come true with one of the coolest toys we’ve seen this year: Pixicade. Pixicade takes your own drawings and transforms them into a video game you can play. This is based on popular 8-bit games from the ’80s and allows kids to transform their art into an interactive, play-based medium that they can share with their friends.
10. For the kid who wants to level up their marble run: GraviTrax
Marble runs just got a whole lot cooler! GraviTrax is a rail-based, next-generation marble run. It uses thin rails and a multi-height stacking system to turn each build into a cool, space-age-looking STEM lesson. The tower pieces in this big-kid building kit come in varying heights to be stacked in any order or configuration, to give loads of options and flexibility in each build. And, when they are done, GraviTrax expansion sets give you even more options to increase the complexity of the tracks.
11. For the competitive kid: A game of burrito throwing
Beware the flying Mexican food! From the makers of Exploding Kittens, if you’ve ever wondered what a card game would be like if it was combined with dodgeball, we have your answer with Throw Throw Burrito. All of the games by Exploding Kittens are laced with hilarity (please see Poetry for Neanderthals as an example); if we have to pick one game for the 8-year-old in your life, however, this is our favorite. It makes for a fun competitive game night with family or friends. If you have a competitive kid, it’s going to be tough to stay too serious when the goal of the game is to not get hit by a flying, squishy and smiling burrito.
12. For the kid who wants a throwback toy: Tamagotchi Pix
Tamagochi are back, and this time they are both more interactive and more social! Tamagotchi Pix is the next generation of your virtual pet—it still needs to be cared for and fed, just like the trendsetting toy from the 90s. This time around, however, you can find Tamagotchi friends and have characters go on playdates, to help keep your character happy and engaged.
13. For the kid who loves their screen time: An Amazon Fire HD 8
We’ve tested a lot of kids’ tablets here at Reviewed, and one that has come out on top for two years running is the Amazon Fire HD 8. It has the best parental controls in its class, setup is almost immediate and it comes loaded with enough pre-installed apps and videos that it’ll be quite some time before they’re begging for you to buy them more. What’s more, each Fire tablet comes with one year of Amazon Kids+, which provides access to more than 13,000 apps, games, videos, books and other content from PBS Kids, Disney and more.
14. For the circuit master: Snap Circuits
For some electrifying fun, Snap Circuits are always popular. These innovative electronic kits are all about problem-solving with creative solutions. In this kit, kids use circuit structures to create movement, lights and sound, with a focus on individual innovation. There are so many Snap Circuit sets to choose from, but for a bit of interactivity, this award-winning set has a light-up robot and even teaches Morse code.
15. For the Mario Maker: Lego Super Mario
Legos are always popular. Super Mario is always popular. These Super Mario-themed Lego sets are an incredible combo of two things kids love, and they are like the video game come to life. This innovative Lego line brings the two iconic toys together to make the most interactive Lego set around. Working with the Lego Super Mario app, which comes with games, challenges, building tips and ideas, these sets really level-up game playing—both on the screen and off. Important to note: All of the expansion sets require either the Super Mario or Luigi Lego starter sets to work.
16. For the armchair astronaut: A VR set
The interactive learning with this Virtual Reality set is truly awe-inspiring. This Toy of the Year winner takes you into the depths of space with the friendly, animated Professor Maxwell as your guide. Kids will explore and learn about the science behind our solar system, galaxy and universe as well as our place in space, when each page comes alive with the included augmented reality goggles.
17. For the one who wants to roll: An adjustable set of JoJo Siwa roller skates
These grow-with-you skates are adjustable to make room for unexpected growth spurts. A simple push of the button slides the toe forward, making them a set that can accommodate skaters well into their tween years. They also have a dual brake system, for easy stopping, and soft urethane wheels that make them a good pick for indoor or outdoor skating.
18. For the creative crafter: A crystal soap-making kit
Kids can craft and customize their own soap with this cool kit that’s sure to make a splash. We love KiwiCo and all of their STEAM-inspired kits, which are always so good at incorporating art with complex scientific concepts at a level kids can comprehend. This kit comes with everything they need to craft and customize colorful, crystal-inspired ombré geodes that are actually beautiful, usable soaps.
19. For the kid who needs some self-love: An empowerment flower
This self-love flower is all about expressing your child’s unique personality with customizable affirmations. Michalik highly recommends this gift as an introspective craft that can be hung and enjoyed, to remind your kiddo of all the wonderful things that make them unique.
20. For the one who loves to build: Snap Ships
For the space-loving kid: Snap Ships are building kits that really understand how kids play. These kits not only create impressively cool space crafts but, once built, the toys solidly lock into place to stand up to just about any intergalactic battle your kid can dream up.
21. For the kid who is extraordinary: A Wonderbly personalized book
Filled with confidence-boosting, self-esteem-building and worry-shrinking activities, this self-belief journal by Wonderbly can be personalized for the extraordinary child in your life. This colorful journal can be customized to feature all of the things you love about your kid, and everything they love about themselves, and it includes pages of growth mindset activities. All of the books by Wonderbly are made with the mission to nurture self-confidence and build resilience, but we like this one for the reflective and introspective screen-free activities.
22. For the one who wants to level up their drawing skills: Crayola Light Up Tracing Pad
Crayola never disappoints when it comes to innovative art supplies, and their Light Up Tracing Pad is proof positive. The pad is so much fun and it’s a great toy for kids that are looking to improve their drawing skills. It features a backlit screen to make tracing especially easy, and it comes with colored pencils and tracing sheets so that they can start using it right away.
23. For the budding reader (or the kid you wish would read more): A cool new comic
This zany and gripping new three-book series follows the Zoo Patrol Squad as they crack criminal cases. Colorful, smart and completely hilarious, these graphic novels were written expressly for young readers. These gorgeously illustrated books were both written and illustrated by Disney, Dreamworks and Marvel alum Brett Bean, and are filled with wacky animals, wild adventures and madcap mysteries. No matter how reluctant a reader you may have, this can’t-put-it down series is sure to grab their attention and their imagination.
If your kid has already burned through the Dogman series (or you’re tired of fart jokes) your kids will love this exciting, funny and smart book series (and you’ll be grateful for them).
24. For the kid who wants to code: Coding charms
Coding is such a cool concept for kids to learn and teaches kids problem-solving and critical thinking, but not every kid wants to learn Scratch code to get there. For some screen-free learning, this book takes kids through all the steps of coding, including algorithms, encryption, puzzling, sequencing, variables, puzzle and binary. This step-by-step illustrated guide takes kids through the functions and planning of coding to create fuse bead charms that they can later wear, show off, or give to friends.
25. For the kid who loves to doodle: Spirograph Animator
If you loved Spirograph as a kid, get ready to become a fan all over again with this fun upgrade. This cool new toy uses the same gears to make fractal-style drawings and designs, but with a modern twist. A spinning base and light-up strobes turn your drawings to life, making them appear to animate and nearly jump off the paper.
26. For the budding detective: A master detective toolkit
Gather evidence, solve crimes, decode messages and get the answers to burning questions of whodunnit in this incredibly detailed crime-fighting toolkit. This science kit takes STEM learning to the next level and is loads of fun while doing it. With this kit, kids will use chromatography to extract evidence from DNA analyses, test acids and alkalis to discover secret writing, examine fingerprint characteristics and more.
27. For the budding engineer: Little Passports science kits
Little Passports made its name for its world travel boxes but, for, they have really started to make their mark as a top STEM subscription kit. These kits are engineering- and physics-heavy; each comes with two complementary science projects for kids to learn complex concepts in science in math, all the while thinking they are playing. The real standout of Little Passports, however, is the accompanying comic book. They are colorful, fun and entertaining and they take kids through the concepts they will be learning in an exciting way.
28. For the one who is always on-trend: Claire’s Bitsy Box
Filled with plushies, fidget toys, jewelry and more, this monthly subscription box is filled with on-trend gifts and is the style infusion every tween wants.
29. For the future pastry chef: An EZ Bake Oven
Remember how much fun it was to watch your baking creations come together in your Easy-Bake Oven? Relive that joy again as your kids experience the messy, creative and gratifying fun of baking with their very own oven. No bulbs are needing in this modern, upgraded version. Even though this electric model has some modern improvements, is still as simple to use as the one you remember as a kid.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed: Toys and gifts for 8-year-olds 2021: Best gift ideas to shop right now