When shopping for a gift for an 11 or 12 year old, things start to get a bit tricky. Kids this age are saying goodbye to their childhood and hello to their teen years. For the most part they aren’t interested in ‘toys’ anymore, but there are some exceptions and we have found them for you.
Here are our top picks for all the best toy and gift ideas for 11 and 12 year old children.
If you have an eleven or twelve year old who claims to be too old for toys, have a look at some of the fun stuff that we found. It’s even hard for parents to keep their hands off some of these toys.
Ultra Stomp Rocket are a silly and fun outdoor activity that most kids will love. They are kind of pointless, but very fun to use.
Since almost every kid (that I know at least) loves Minecraft and LEGO, it’s pretty genius that someone thought to put them together to make LEGO Minecraft Sets. There are four sets in this series so far and you can’t go wrong with any one of them .There is a pretty good chance whoever gets this as a gift will be extremely happy.
Who doesn’t love remote control helicopter? It can be a bit hard getting one that is good quality and that doesn’t break down after a couple of uses. This one is pretty durable, just don’t get it caught in anyone’s long hair (trust me).
Five Crowns would make a great stocking stuffer for a child who is into card games. Five Crowns is really fun and easy to learn and to play so it’s a great family card game. It doesn’t take a lot of thought or expertise so it is perfect for when you are tired but still need something to do.
Nerf Rebelle Heartbreaker Bow is a cool gift for someone who is into the Hunger Games. I’ve had my eye on this bow for a year now and just can’t understand why no one has taken the hint and gotten it for me already. I think I’ll just have to buy it for myself under the pretence of getting it for the kids.
Artistic or Creative
For artistic kids an easy gift is a really good quality art set or a sketching set, these sets have everything a budding artist might need and they look very grown up and serious which is important for kids in this age range.
Another option is a good scrapbook kit that has lots fun projects that kids can do to help develop their creativity. Who doesn’t love to scrapbook?
Twelve is actually the perfect age to introduce a guitar to a child who is showing some interest in music. By age 12 kids are able to handle a full sized guitar either acoustic or electric and so you can pretty much get any type of guitar at any price range and aren’t limited to ‘Kid’ guitars anymore. If you aren’t sure where to start a guitar that is a great price by a reputable company is this Bullet Strat by Squier. It is a nice budget guitar that is perfect for kids.
If you want to spend a bit more and get a guitar that is a fantastic beginner electric guitar, have a look at the Squier by Fender Classic Vibe Telecaster. It will last for years, have great resale value and it is easy to play and maintain.
A lot of parents love to start their kids on an acoustic guitar because they don’t have to worry about getting an amp and a cable and it tends to be a little cheaper than electric. If you are looking to get a good quality starter guitar then check out the Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar. Its cheap, well made and great for beginners.
One thing that would make a good educational present for a child in this age range is a good quality microscope. My First Lab Duo-Scope Microscope is an authentic, scientist-grade, biological microscope that is solid entry level microscope (not a toy). It has real optical glass lenses that have 40x, 100x, and 400x magnification, to view slides or solid objects through a 10x eyepiece, which also functions as a magnifying glass when removed from the eyepiece tube and turned over.
LEGO Mindstorms would be an amazing gift to receive. If you aren’t familiar with LEGO Mindstorms it is basically a set where you build programmable robots using the LEGO build system. The robots that your kids will build are able to be programmed to walk, talk, think, and do lots of other stuff. If you want to get your kids into robotics and programming this is a great way to do it. Mindstorms isn’t cheap (around $350) but it is a very cool product that will teach your kids a lot about robotics, engineering and programming without them every realizing it.
If you want to get your kids into robotics but don’t want to spend LEGO Mindstorm type money you could try OWI 14-in-1 Solar Robot. This is a very affordable solar powered robot that can be transformed into 14 different robot modes . The robot kit includes accessories and parts that make the robot move on land and water. Kids will also learn about solar energy and gears.
There are also lots of great science kits that would be good for an 11-12 year old (there are also lots of bad ones so read reviews before buying), you can get general science kits, chemistry kits, physics, kits, DNA testing kits one that we like is the Thames & Kosmos Crystal Growing Kit. This lets kids grow four chemically different crystals each with different properties, including potassium alum crystals that form regular octahedrons, rapidly growing sodium sulphate crystals, long needle-shaped sodium acetate crystals, and plaster which is made from gypsum crystals.
A really good choice for a gift for this age is a board game because kids at this age can get pretty competitive. It is also an age where children start becoming more independent and emotionally distant from parents, so a good board game is a nice family activity can be something that you do together. There are so many great board games available beyond the classic games of Monopoly and Scrabble. These are our favourite board games for ages 11 and 12:
- King of Tokyo is a fun, easy to learn, quick (usually around 30 minutes) dice and card game that is best described as Yahtzee with monsters. In the game you are basically one of 6 Monsters trying to take over Tokyo. There is a lot of luck (and some strategy) involved so anyone can win.
- Lords of Waterdeep: A Dungeons & Dragons Board Game is a Euro-style (less luck conflict and drama than American style games) that has a moderate length game play, (usually around an hour). Each player is a Lord of Waterdeep who is vying for control of the city by who hires adventurers to complete tasks on your behalf. The more quests your adventurers complete, the better you do.
- The Settlers of Catan by now I think almost everyone knows about Settlers, if you don’t you should. It is super fun and you will love playing it. The point of the game is that players collect resources and use them to build roads, settlements and cities on their way to victory. I know it sounds kind of boring but it’s so fun to play. The board changes in each game so it makes all the games a little different from the next.
- 7 Wonders has a pretty short play time of around 30 minutes and the point of the game is that you are the leader of one of the 7 great cities of the Ancient World and you are trying to gather resources, develop commercial routes and build military supremacy.
Any series by Rick Riordan (The Kane Chronicles, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Heroes of Olympus)
Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Artemis Fowl (series) by Eoin Colfer
Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
The Merchant of Death (Pendragon) by D. J. MacHale
Coralline by Neil Gaiman
The Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan
Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Almost anything from Basher Books
More great gift ideas for birthday and Christmas for kids ages: 2, 3 and 4, 5, 6 and 7,
Buying a gift for a child who falls into the 5 to 7 range is generally not too hard. Kids of this age have definite interests and opinions on what they like and don’t like. This is also the age that they are most interested in toys. The biggest problem when shopping for this age range is that there is SO much selection that it is difficult to choose just one thing.
Here are our top picks for all the best holiday toy and gift ideas for 5, 6 and 7 year old children:
Kids ages 5 to 7 are getting more control over their fine motor skills so the types of crafts they can do can get a bit more interesting.
For the last few years Minecraft has probably been the biggest thing for kids to come along in a while. This year the Minecraft merchandise has really gotten rolling and has started to catch up with the demand for anything Minecraft related. This Minecraft Papercraft Overworld Deluxe Set is sort of neat it you know a child who just can’t get enough Minecraft but maybe you don’t want them spending so much time in front of a screen. It is basically paper blocks made out of card stock- stay with me here, I know it doesn’t sound that great- but your kids will spend hours assembling it and playing with it. It is really fun for this age.
The DohVinci Style & Store Vanity Design Kit is made by the Play Doh people (Doh Vinci get it?). It a vanity that you child can personalize to suit their own style. It uses a 3-D styling compound that let kids make cool designs on it and if they mess up they can just wipe it off and start again because it doesn’t dry right away.
Kinetic Sand – Sandbox & Molds Activity Set the sand art kits are kind of a big thing with kids over the last few years. They can be a bit messy so don’t buy this for a child who has clean freak parents or they won’t be too happy with you. Otherwise kids really like this stuff, it 98% sand, 2% Polymers and those Polymers really make this stuff great and fun to play with.
A wonderful gift for a 5-7 year old child is a musical instrument. There are lots of beginner instruments available at toy stores that are made for kids that aren’t very good quality, they don’t sound or look that good and will break or fall apart easily. For a bit more money you can get some really well-made Junior Drum Sets ,Mini Guitars or Mini Keyboards that are basically small versions of the real thing. These are so much better than what you buy in a toy store and will last much longer and will hopeful spark a lifelong interest in music for the lucky kids who get them as presents.
WowWee Tipster Toy would make a great first robot for any kid. It has 5 play modes (stacking, balancing, building, free play, or tricks) and a remote and a guide for the interactive activities that your kids can do with Tipster. You can stack things on Tipster before the music stops or you can watch it do tricks. It is pretty impressive for the price.
Zoomer Dino is an interactive dinosaur that moves like a real dinosaur, and can tell when you’re interacting with him. He will react to being stroked and touched. It’s a pretty cool toy because it can get angry, spin around, chomp and roar at you. It also performs tricks and will follow you around.
LEGO is an easy choice as a gift for most kids, the hard part is trying to figure out what set to get. For Lego Friends I like the LEGO Friends Jungle Tree Sanctuary. If you want more of a holiday theme to your gift you can try out the LEGO Advent Calendars. These are pretty cool, the most popular one is the LEGO City Advent Calendar but you can also get a LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar or even a LEGO Friends calendar. The idea is that you countdown to Christmas by opening up the advent calendar each day of the month of December and you will find different LEGO mini figures, assorted accessories and mini builds.
Kids who love outdoor play will love the Stomp Rocket Jr. Glow Kit that lets kids stomp on a rocket launcher to shoot a rocket into the sky.
If the child you are buying for loves butterflies or insects there is a super cool butterfly kit called Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden that gives kids the opportunity to observe butterflies through every stage of their lifecycle. Children ages four and up can observe five real caterpillars eat and grow to form their chrysalis and then emerge as Painted Lady butterflies. Children will love feeding the butterflies in their included observation habitat and then releasing them into the wild.
If you are looking for an educational and fun to play game that will help with addition and subtraction you could try the board game Sum Swamp Addition and Subtraction Game. This game gives a great introduction to addition and subtraction in a fun way.
For kids who are starting to get into science you can’t go wrong with a science kit. A kit that we have tried and really like is the POOF-Slinky 0SA221 Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kit. This kit helps kids to explore and learn the basics of science from chemical reactions to the use of basic science tools.
Another educational toy that is pretty cool for this age is Roominate, which is a DIY wired dollhouse building kit for kids ages 6 and up. This kit lets kids wire up circuits to make parts of a room or a dollhouse move and light up. Roominate is part of the neat trend that includes Goldie Blox and littleBits that are products created by young female engineers who are trying to get girls interested in science, technology and engineering.
This is an age where you can start getting into board games that are a little more complex and that are fun for adults to play as well. Qwirkle is a super popular gift that anyone ages 6+ can play. It has one lots of awards and is great for helping kids develop strategy and critical thinking skills. Another classic game that is good to help kids develop problem solving and critical thinking skills is for this age is ThinkFun Rush Hour Jr.
If you are looking for something a little different try ThinkFun Zingo this game teaches image and vocabulary recognition, matching, memory, concentration, and social interaction.
Another game that is fun, quick and easy for kids this age to play is the strategy-building game Sequence for Kids.
Good Books for Kids Ages 5, 6, and 7
- Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg
- The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
- Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown and Macky Pamintuan
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
- The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
- The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
- Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
- Ivy and Bean Series Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall
More great gift ideas for birthday and Christmas for kids ages: 2, 3 and 4, 8, 9 and 10,
Preschoolers are so much fun to shop for. Since they aren’t super picky, you can’t really go wrong with almost anything that you choose. Here are our top picks for all the best toy and gift ideas for 2, 3 and 4 year old children.
At this age it is very easy to get a great gift for a creative child. Most kids are happy with some paper, crayons and their imagination, but if you are looking for something more to help inspire creativity you can get a good quality Art Easel that can grow with them for a few years. There is a huge range of easels that are great for kids, ones that have attachable trays to hold art supplies are especially handy. Another great idea for a creative child is an Art Desk. An art desk lets kids keep all their art supplies within easy reach and they have lots of storage for their art projects.
Play Visions Sands Alive! is indoor play sand that isn’t what you expect sand to be, it’s sort of hard to describe but what it reminds me of a is little bit like cookie dough. In the last year or so this stuff has gotten pretty big and it will keep your kids busy for a very long time. It’s hard to go near this stuff without wanting to touch it or play with it, it is kind of odd that way.
Since kids this age love to make noise, a couple of loud sturdy musical toys are a safe bet. Hohner Kids / Glockenspiel (Xylophone) with Songbook is a classic xylophone that doesn’t look too babyish so kids will be able to use it for years. They are fun to bang on even for adults. Another good choice would be a B. Parum Pum Pum Drum, this a cute set with a big drum, drumsticks, jingle bell, a maraca and clacker so there are lots of fun noise making items with that kids will really enjoy.
With the upcoming release of apple’s smart watch next year, you can expect lots of hype about smartwatches. Kids can get in on the hype with a smartwatch of their very own,Vtech has put out a really cool watch called the VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch. This watch does so much it’s crazy. It can take pictures and record video, and then add effects, frames and filters to the photos. It can also help teach kids how to tell the time with 50 clock face designs. This smartwatch has four learning games, and comes with a micro USB cable, which can be used to upload photos and videos as well as recharge the battery.
An easy and not very expensive gift for preschooler is a durable kids camera. Most children are fascinated with the process of taking pictures so it’s nice for them to have a camera that they can do what they want with. A good kid’s camera to have a look at is the VTech Kidizoom FFP Camera. This camera is a real 1.3 megapixel camera with 4x digital zoom that has a 1.8″ color screen and easy-to-use viewfinder. You can also record video and voice, and it lets kids edit and add effects to photos. This camera is pretty cheap, very durable and kids love them.
Fisher-Price Little People City Skyway – This play set is over 3 feet tall so your kids will be able to stand up and send cars zooming down the ramp. This set will keep your kids busy for long time. It does take a bit of assembly, but it is worth it because your kids will really enjoying playing with it. This is on a number of ‘Hot Toy Lists for Christmas 2014″.
Almost any of the Fisher Price Imaginext sets are a fantastic choice that are great for creative play. This year I really like the Imaginext 2-in-1 Supernova Battle Rover. If you are looking for a big WOW toy this is one to check out. It’s not cheap, but you are getting quite a lot of toy for the price. I wouldn’t get this for a 2 or 3 year old but it would be quite a gift for a 4 year old.
You could also try Magna-Tiles® Clear Colors 32 Piece Set , it is a building set with tiles that your kids can use to make cubes, pyramids and different geometric shapes that is great for preschoolers. They are a bit expensive but children will get years of use out of them.
Another toy I like for this age group is the Radio Flyer Ziggle. Kids make it move by twisting the handle bars while also applying pressure with their feet on the cross bar in the front, there are no peddles so your kids don’t need to know how to peddle a bike, very easy to use. It is super fun and your kids will love it
Children this age are beginning to learn their shapes and how to share, so a really good toy that can help with this is the LeapFrog Shapes And Sharing Picnic Basket. This is a very popular toy that helps kids learn shapes, colors, and manners.
Another good educational toy is the Learning Resources Teaching Cash Register. This toy is a talking cash register that teaches kids about coin identification, addition, subtraction and place value as they play 4 featured games that increase in difficulty as players advance. The cash register is also good for imaginative play and learning basic calculator skills.
If you are looking for something that is fun and also educational you could try Gears! Gears! Gears!® Beginner’s Building Set, kids love these and they are a fun way to help kids learn about simple mechanics.
Everyone knows about the board game Candyland for this age range but there are a lot of other great options available. Educational Insights The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game is a fun game that is also helpful for kids to develop their matching, sorting, strategic thinking, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and pre-handwriting skills.
If you are looking for a simple board game for a child who is into superheroes you could try Chutes and Ladders Super Hero Squad
Another great game for this age range is Richard Scarry Busy Town, this game is a good co-operative game for kids who might not be so great at losing. If you already have the basic Busy Town game there is a follow up game called Richard Scarry Airport Game.
Good Books for Kids Ages 2, 3, and 4
- The Wheels on the Bus by Paul O. Zelinsky is a great book for kids 2 years and younger.
- Press Here by Herve Tullet is a simple, fun, interactive book that kids love.
- If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond is a very popular and classic book for this age range.
- The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is another classic that is very sad but sweet.
- Ladybug Girl by David Soman and Jacky Davis is a nicely illustrated book that would be a good gift for kids who are into the Fancy Nancy series.
- Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld
- National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Why
- The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
- The Going-To-Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
- Steam Train, Dream Train Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld
More great gift ideas for birthday and Christmas for kids ages: 5-7, 8-10, 11 and 12.