Looking for the best toys for older kids?
Toys, the good toys, are the gateway to learning. So let’s get the best toys for older kids to inspire play.
After a long day of school, our children need to come home and play. Let’s remind our big kids that what they touch can quickly become more creative and involve movement.
We need our six-year-olds to continue the momentum from the type of play that we have worked so hard to maintain during the early years.
We need to remind our elementary children that they can learn through play and that home is safe to explore new ideas.
Let’s get these big kids some toys they can look forward to coming home to after school!
RELATED: Want to inspire more play at home? These BIG KID activity cards are great!
What toys do older kids like?
Once children hit kindergarten, their love for learning can soar, or they can feel deflated with the high expectations placed upon them.
Popular toys for big kids remind children that they are intelligent, kind, and funny.
We are looking for toys that remind children that being creative allows them to feel safe to learn more.
Let’s find toys without strict boundaries on what button to press to make it go.
Older kids must continue the momentum of open-ended play to develop the habits they need to thrive and enjoy being at home.
So, what is the best gift for older kids?
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Keep in mind that putting ages on toys can sometimes put us in a box.
You know your child best. If they are ready for it, go for it!.
Toys are important because they:
Allow children to create
Help children retell a story and express emotional needs
Expand a child’s vocabulary
Allow children to be mindful of the team around them
Encourage building, designing, and early engineering skills
Peel back layers of confusion after a conflict with a friend
Soothe anxiety and tension
Encourage cooperation and form friendships
Help children better understand how to move their bodies
Assist with self-control
Do you see? You cannot get that deep with a worksheet. We know this. To deepen our children’s understanding of life, we must allow them to use open-ended, hands-on toys.
We can do this with well-thought-out toys and time to play.
Board Game Toys for Older Kids
Good News! We also have a more extensive list of board games for kids. Be sure to check it out, along with our favorite board games for older kids listed here.
Have you played Monopoly with your kids? Super Mario Monopoly was our introduction to Monopoly, and I am so happy we started here. It simplified which parts and pieces are needed to advance players and purchase properties with only two coins to play. My boys also love the Mario Brothers, so this game was a winner as soon as the boys unwrapped it!
Who knew you could play Tetris without a screen?! This game checks pretty much every box – it’s creative, there are many problems to be solved, it can be played together or solo, and as a parent of a certain age, the nostalgia factor makes me smile. You can even combine these with additional sets or other blocks for a whole new experience.
Another winner was suggested to us by a friend! Roll the dice and plug in the wooden circles. The goal is to fill in the missing spaces using the different puzzle pieces. Players can play this game alone or challenge a friend to see who can complete the puzzle in time. The Genius Square is SUCH a fantastic board game for elementary-aged children and beyond.
A friend suggested this board game for my six and seven-year-old to play. It has inspired lots of strategic thinking! The goal is to complete train routes by gathering cards of coordinating colors. We like to play this game before bedtime and get everyone involved. If you are looking for a new board game for elementary-aged children, THIS IS IT!
Art and Creative Play Toys for Older Kids
SOLD OUT – I am watching the links and will have it updated when available. These paints make the list for several age groups because truly – the benefits of playing with colors and creating from scratch never end. This set is a perennial favorite because it’s easy to store, has just the right amount of color variety, and is a quality product at a friendly price point.
If you’re familiar with my blog, you know that all three of my boys love their Vtech point and shoot cameras. We don’t leave home without them. Now that my oldest is moving towards upper elementary school, he has graduated to this super fun, creative Creator Cam and can make actual short movies! The great thing is about this toy is he can start with an effortless creation but learn the elements of movie-making and use the more advanced features as he discovers them. Get ready for your close-up!
Looking to build a mathematical mind? You want to encourage creating patterns, counting, engineering, problem-solving – and you can find opportunities for all of it in a bead kit. Gift this early in the holiday season and give your big kid the tools to make their gifts for their friends and loved ones!
Okay, I admit – I am geeking out over this one because it would have been on my Christmas list when I was about nine years old, and I would have spent hours planning and carefully applying all of the details. There is something about miniatures that is just comforting and inviting. I plan to gift this with the intention of some one-on-one time working with my oldest, letting him lead the way, and interpreting the instructions together. I can’t wait to see what we learn together.
Like the bead kit, this material has endless possibilities for creating, problem-solving, and just plain fun. Small hands can easily manipulate it out of the container, but you could also add some simple design tools – even cast-off playdough tools would work fine. It takes about three days for creation to dry on your counter, and then kids can paint them. This is another excellent way for kids to make unique gifts for the holidays or even make their toys and decorations!
I used to BEG for Shrinky Dinks, and my mom would say, “but…what do you DO with them?” As a parent now, I get it. They are super fun to create but then…you have shrunken colored creations all over. Here is the solution! All the fun of Shrinky Dinks that you then make into jewelry, barrettes, or even keychains! It’s so fun for kids to make their wearable art and encourage them to express themselves and experiment with color and style.
So much potential for fun and discovery in this one kit! It’s an art project, an engineering project, and a science lesson in one – and when you are done, you can make your big kid feel like a rock star by hanging it somewhere you’ll enjoy it every day. You might want to pick up an extra and make one yourself!
I’m all in on this ukelele kit. The online lessons are short, fun, and user-friendly, even for older kids who have never played music before. I love seeing the pride and excitement my kids feel when they teach themselves something, and learning to play a song is a whole other level of calm.
STEM Toys for Older Kids
LEGOs are LIFE for so many of our kids, and I firmly believe they are the perfect STEAM toy all on their own – however, for that “big” holiday gift and a way to introduce coding and take building to a whole new level, this is an excellent add-on. You can build many robots and make them do amazing things – including build other small LEGO models. You do need a smartphone or tablet, but this is “screen-time” I feel good about.
The Toolbox above comes with about five ideas, so here are 95 more to keep your robot builder busy! I like that this book is very visual – it does a great job with the show and tell, which makes the projects more independent and sneakily sharpens reading skills.
Warning: if you are anything like me, your kid is about to know way more about how electricity works than you ever wanted to know. As easy to use as LEGOs, this is a new world of experiments that range from simple to complex and encourage critical thinking at every turn.
This Snap Circuits set is more specific to the electrical mechanisms we use in our homes. Big kids can learn everything from how light switches work to home security systems, starting some great conversations about how we care for our homes and how we use energy.
Like I said – we love Mario around here, and I am all for a cool toy that takes the fun off the screen in an engaging way. This is a LEGO set that lets you create an actual, working Super Mario level! It’s just challenging enough for an early to mid elementary schooler to enjoy on their own, but so much fun that I’m excited to play with them.
This hedgehog is a go-to gift for older kids. It’s kind of like a chia pet, but cuter, cooler, and faster. Kids make a simple mixture with water and the included solution, and a day later, crystals magically appear, and then your big kid has an adorable decor item for their room.
Harvest the energy of the unexplainable fun of launching things with this STEM toy. You can build at least 60 different machines with this kit, and chances are your kid will come up with more than what’s in the manual. This is great even for a teen who secretly (or not-so-secretly) still wishes for toys under the tree.
Outdoor Toys for Older Kids
What kid sees a bow and arrow and DOESN’T want to try it?! This Faux Bow reduces the injury potential and maximizes the fun, making it a budget-friendly way to give archery a try. It shoots pretty far once you get the hang of it, and we have had a lot of fun creating silly, safe targets out of leftover cardboard and craft supplies.
Big kids are often over the swing sets and playhouses we were so excited to get when they were preschoolers, but that doesn’t mean the backyard adventures have to end. Let them be ninjas! This line is completely customizable and expandable so that you can have a couple of elements or a whole backyard American Ninja Warrior episode.
We might be a digital society now, but walkie talkies will ALWAYS be awesome. Age up a game of hide and seek, take them camping or hiking, or come up with a whole secret language – there are so many ways to have fun with these. I like this brand because they can take a beating, which is a huge plus even for older kids.
Power a rocket by jumping up and down? Yes, please. One kid can spend hours practicing this independently and then challenge all of their siblings and friends. By trying different combinations of running and jumping, kids can problem-solve and exercise themselves to greatness right in their backyard.
Step 1: Buy kids a wheelbarrow. Step 2: Never unload groceries from the car again! These have many uses, and it’s fun to figure out what it can and can’t carry and how to maneuver it depending on the load. Get a couple and have real wheelbarrow races!
By the time my oldest was in elementary school, all he wanted to do on the swings was stand up, so I figured, why not just go with it. This swing is such good quality, is sturdy enough for a person up to 200 lbs to try, and engages pretty much every muscle in the body. I love that it extends the life of backyard swinging – and it’s okay for sitting on it as well as standing so that younger kids can get in on the fun, too.
This game is like the next generation of corn hole – plus, it’s waterproof and portable. It’s so much fun for everyday play and pool parties, the beach, the park; you name it. You can play it like a bean bag toss, or water polo, or even hacky-sack, and it’s just as fun for one person as for 10. This game is an excellent gift for a whole family!