BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
Gift Ideas for School-aged Kids
Berkeley Parents Network >
School-aged Kids >
Gift Ideas for School-aged Kids
Birthday Present for 5 year old
Seeking inspiration for my little girl's 5th year birthday
present. Something that will delight and captivate her.
She's into everything! I would love to hear your ideas.
Butterfly Garden? Some boutique toy stores (and online) sell the net and
kits to house caterpillars until they form their cocoon and turn into painted
lady butterflies. It was a very fun and unique gift that my child got for her
When I turned five, my parents gave me a little butterfly net and a simple field
guide to butterflies. Endless fun charging around trying to catch butterflies and
look them up. (Pretty easy to catch and release without harming the butterflies).
Suddenly I was noticing these creatures all around that I'd never noticed before. I
can still really imagine the feeling.
My niece loved a butterfly kit I got her on Amazon - it
comes with a net cage and cocoons, which hatch into butterflies.
Preschoolers are so interesting. They really do have special interests, and even
''hobbies'' at this young age. Some of
the interests can be fleeting, and others are very much a part of their
personalities or are talents that are begging to be
nurtured. So obviously, what would ''captivate'' my child will not necessarily have
the same effect on yours, and vice versa.
I have at least once or twice bought toys I thought would be favorites, and which
completely missed the mark (Thomas
the Train for example).
Some popular themes in my child's 5-year-old preschool class (these are kids who
are entering kindergarten in 2 more
weeks), among both girls and boys have included studying bugs (a bug
house/magnifying glass kit is great for this),
constructing elaborate creations out of legos, tinkertoys, k'nex, etc, and having
pretend pets, especially very tiny ones
such as iwako erasers, calico critters, or littlest pet shop.
This past 12 months or so at our house we've been crazy about Playmobil toys
(hoping the interest will last at least
another couple of years because they're expensive!). What I like about the
Playmobil play sets: They are well made, there
is a great variety of themes (try to choose a base theme to start with) and the
details they put into the tiny accessories.
My child plays very well alone with these toys, but because I think it's such a
cool toy, I enjoy the time I spend sitting on
the floor playing with my child when this toy is out, and I'm more engaged than
with other play themes. So it works nicely
for both of us. Locally, good sources to buy Playmobil are Sweet Dreams on
College, Mr. Mopps, or secondhand at Toy-
Go-Round on Solano. You can also see the current catalog and buy online at
playmobil.com. An advantage of buying
from Toy-Go-Round is that they are pre-assembled. You do need to possess patience
for assembling the sets and a
great tolerance for lots of tiny parts that can easily be eaten by the vacuum
cleaner. Because of the small parts, it's not
great if there are baby/toddler siblings around.
Oh, and another great idea - a one-year membership to someplace like Children's
Fairyland, Lawrence Hall of Science,
Exploratorium, Oakland Zoo, etc, followed up with many outings there. Not only is
it fun, but many of these places are
nonprofits that are struggling in the current economy, and I suspect the
memberships really help them.
I spent over a decade babysitting and nannying for LOTS of
families before having my own, and I always had much success
with ''The New Way Things Work'' by David Macaulay as a
present for the 8 and under set (it's a beloved book FAR
beyond that age, though). You can look it up on amazon :
As the title suggests, it explains how EVERYTHING in our
modern world works (a fridge, a helicopter, a computer, a
watch, etc). It has wonderful illustrations, and I always
found that it provides a more interactive experience of
learning for the kids, compared to just sitting on their
parents' laps while they google it and sift through hits.
Many children I gave this to very quickly figured out how to
use the index and look things up on their own, which is
awesome! It's just a fun, informative book that will boost a
kid's knowledge and probably her imagination, too
I am participating in the Adopt-A-Family Holiday Program and
need to purchase gifts for two 6-year-old boys. The family
requested clothing and ''educational toys''. Where can I maximize
my dollar on quality clothing for this age? Also, where/what to
buy in the way of toys? I don't know any 6-year-olds! Thanks
in advance for your recommendations.
For clothes I suggest Target (get a top, not pants. Buying
pants by size only may not work so well at that age anymore).
At the age of 6, learning about the environment takes focus. I
would try to find a science kit - something about magnetism, or
how to make your own volcano or grow a plant. A book on these
subjects or on sharks (always popular) is also educational.
Your generosity great! A pair of good sturdy plain jeans that
hold up is a great gift-- Target is good value for $ for boys
clothes. I have heard Sears is the best for boys pants. Some 6
year old boys still prefer jeans with an elastic in the back
(mine does). Socks that hold-up is something kids are short of
too- I get Peds at Target- they have some stretch and are easier
to get on because of that.
''Educational toys'' is hard to quantify. A subscription to a
magazine maybe the thing that hooks them into reading, and a
gift that keeps on giving: childrens Sport's Illustrated, Ranger
Rick, Wildlife Fed's Your Backyard are all popular with boys. If
you want a ''wow under the tree gift'', try a leap pad or one of
their small mini thingies that looks like a mini gameboy. The 6
year olds I know love Bionicles, lego knights, bikes, how-to-
draw books and tracing. Sometimes a simple gift like a reading
light to screw in above their bed or a reading flashlight is a
a mom with a 6 yr old
Lakeshore Learning. They have a store in Walnut Creek, an outlet store in San
Leandro and a website.
Lakeshore learning in San Leandro has a discount warehouse in the
back part with loads of learning toys at up to 70% off.
Lakeshore Learning Store
1144 Montague Ave
San Leandro, CA 94577
That said, I have not found a lot of good learning toys for my
6-year-old--ones that would have lasting interest. They are
getting into the books and games age. There are lots of really
good learning software for kids this age (Zoombinis, Dinosaur
Adventure 3D Reader Rabbit Math Ages 6-9). But toys are tricky.
Yahtzee is good for practicing math skills. Cadoo and Taboo Jr
are terrific games that get kids thinking. Chapter books like
The Magic Treehouse are good. They give historical information
in a fun format. Ranger Rick subscription is a good idea, as is
a Boomerang subscription. Boomerang is an audio magazine. A new
subscription costs about $54. It is narrated by kids and some
have said it is like Prairie Home Companion meets All Things
Considered for kids. There are poems, jokes, historical plays,
science and news segments. The Beethoven's Wig CDs are a fun way
to introduce kids to classical music. The songs are very funny
and usually supply some background on the composer. Tangrams are
good educational fun. Perhaps legos or other construction toys
would be a good idea.
A great source of educational toys and books is the Discovery
Corner Store at the Lawrence Hall of Science. The staff
members will have excellent suggestions too.
They are open 7 days a week, and I believe you can go into the
store by itself without actually paying to see the hall
Their number is 510-642-1929.
I'm seeking recommendations for great gifts for our 6-year-old daughter for
Chanukah, which is not that far away at this point. In particular, I would be
interested in hearing of terrific books, movies (VHS/DVD), CDs, board games, and
arts & crafts type things (she loves to draw, for example).
We've had good luck funding Chanukah books at Afikomen on
College (and, less reliably, at Cody's on Fourth Street). Our
current favorites are ''Zigazack'' and ''Herschel and the Chanukah
Goblins.'' ''The Borrowed Latkes'' is also pretty good. Outside
of Chanukah books, six little girls all pretty much seem to love
the My Little Pony Toys, Strawberry Shortcake and Calico
Gift for 7 year old about to become a brother
I am 4 months pregnant and we are planning on telling our
7 years old son next week that he is going to be a big
I had this idea we could give him something to celebrate
but i can't come up with anything. I don't want it to be
legos or a toy. I also don't want a book. I would like
something we cou!ld buy 2 of and tell him there is one for
him and one for his baby brother...aside from a stuffed
animal what else would work?
How about matching T shirts, one says 'The ___ family, I'm
the Baby' or something, the other, 'The ___ Family, I'm
the Big Brother'. Good for family photos early on. You
could get shirts, too,('The ___ Family, Mom', or 'Mom of
Two', 'Dad of Two') if that's not too cheesy for you.
Everyone's role is changing, life will never be the same.
Change can feel like loss, but it's also growth. And it's
not about stuff, it's about more love. Hopefully the older
son has stuff going outside the house, friends and
activities, so he won't be feeling your total involvment
with someone else as such a loss. Time for him and dad to
bond. Good luck.
Good presents for nerdy 7-year old
Our 7-year old asked for, and got, a calculator and an
electronics set for Christmas. He is very happy and
excited and plays with them both all the time. I was
hoping someone else in the family would get him some
actual toys that he can play with with friends, but no one
did. Luckily, his birthday is fast-approaching! What are
good presents for nerdy kid that can accomodate play with
I think your son would love Snap Circuits: http://tinyurl.com/7c8borv (or is that
what you mean by ''an electronics set''?). He could also try Lego Mindstorms
(programmable Legos) if an adult is willing to help him. (You can find used sets
for half the price of new ones.)
Parent of a slightly older nerdy kid
7 is a good age to introduce your son to European board games. Carcassonne is
an excellent beginning. Settlers of Catan is also great fun. Each game introduces
different strategies and is a good way to get to know other children socially and
What a great question! Things my 6-8yo nerdlings enjoy
doing with others include chess, Legos, projects from books
of science experiments/engineering (Howtoons, Dangerous Book
for Boys, the Mad Scientist's Notebook, etc.) and strategy
games like My Dwarves Can Fly (they'd probably be into
Dungeons & Dragons kind of games but we haven't tried that
yet). Of course, they also like just running around,
building forts and inventing their own games, but those
things are hard to wrap up as birthday presents. I'm
curious to see what others come up with.
How about building sets? The ever-popular Legos, perhaps,
As a kid, I and my nerdy family always loved to play Set
together. It's a card game in which you use logic skills to
make ''sets'' of different shapes, colors, and numbers. I
know that doesn't make it sound exciting but it's a great
game and is really a lot of fun for adults too.
mom of Lego boys
We have a nerdy 10 year old. He and his other friends have always loved to
play with his legos and his playmobiles. In the past the wooden train set was
always a good group activity. On occasion if it is only 2 kids they will build
something from his electronic set together or one of his other science kits.
Board games such as Clue, Battleship, Life, and twister have been popular. We
haven't been able to afford it, but he and all his friends love Kapla blocks.
We'll take a few at a time to LHS where they have a room dedicated to it. We
have to drag them all out of there when it is time to go home.
It is harder to get them outside, but our tree house has worked, pepsi and
mentos, stomp rockets, rc cars, and temporary giant cardboard box
clubhouses usually do the trick.
Not strictly a toy really either, but art supplies. At 7 especially, anything to do
with mixing colors was extremely popular. Our son was not so interested in
making pictures, but loved to mix paint. So we had a number of playdates
involving painting where each kid got a palatte (if we didn't have enough we'd
use paper plates.) We used tempera paint, which is cheap enough I never
worried about the wasted paint. Besides pictures, we painted ''murals'' outside
on butchers paper, the giant cardboard playhouses of course, bakers clay
sculptures (extremely popular) and also those little wooden things that you
can get at craft stores. I think at 7 we would still mix a huge batch of
playdough and give everyone a chunk and some scuplting tools, they loved
Enjoy your boy!
I have a nerdy 7 year old too. (He got a giant calculator
when he was 4.) But he also likes more typical board games
too. He loves connect four, sorry/sliders, othello,
battleship, mastermind, blockus, and now scrabble. He's
also spent long hours building various kinds of marble runs
(he started with the basic plastic and wood kinds, but his
latest was a motorized one that was for teenagers.) Kapla
blocks (like at Lawrence Hall of Science) have been good too
as have race tracks (like slot cars) that he can
reconfigure. He enjoyed a magic set a friend gave him (talk
about nerdy!) and he just got a chemistry set from the same
friend that is too advanced for him (ie requires too much of
my time...) Hope that helps!
My geeky son & his friends love
*Lego star wars - any kit (delightfully nerdy or normal
depending on your definition, and very creative as the
kids rebuild and mix the sets according to their
*Snap Circuits - a little harder for 2 kids to play with
these than 1 kid, however
*Tinker toys and blocks - sometimes helpful to bring them
out with the lego star wars to juice things up
*Send them outside with some wood, tape, glue, string,
*Craft kits work too - fusion beads, other beads, paper
airplane book from klutz, pipe cleaner art from klutz
legos....they have all kinds of cool circuit board building kits, build and rebuild
robots etc but legos are successful for the nerdlets in my house...
loves my nerds
For my nerdy soon-to-be 8yo:
snap circuits are easy enough to build like legos but
satisfies his interest in how things work. there is even a
''green'' energy set:
a catapult kit
the angry birds board game by mattel
rubiks cube (tho not for group play)
the board game ''PIECE OF CAKE.'' Fun to play for all levels
but great strategy game
One more gift that is great for the brain and getting kids
to be active is Hyperdash.
It's great because they can play it solo or in a group. You
can play sitting down by setting the targets close on a
table or in front of you OR you can take it outside and
place the targets faraway. Kids and adults love this game.
My 8 year old daughter has been asking for 2 items for
Christmas - a pocket knife and a Gameboy. I have been resistant
to both, but now wonder if she is old enough for a pocket knife -
with clear rules, as she is fairly mature and sees both her dad
and I handle them on a regular basis. Has anyone out there given
a child this age (she'll be 9 in March) a pocket knife, and to
what results? Her dad suggested a small multi-tool with only one
knife blade to reduce the chance of her using the blade
incorrectly (she would have the correct tool, like a saw, to use
I am pretty determined about the Gameboy (NOT to get one), but
would like perspectives from other parents. Currently, my
daughter has very little ''screen'' time - computer or tv, and I
would rather keep things that way. However, I am interested in
opinions either way. Anyone out there have any strong pro or con
arguments about introducing a gameboy into the house?
Re: proposed GameBoy gift. This is one of those popular, harmless-
seeming gifts that you should really think hard about. Please note I am
not a rabid anti-media parent; my two boys have watched their share of
TV, play computer games, etc. But they (now 13 and 8) have never had
a GameBoy and I am very glad we resisted. Kids' lives are full of
moments when they're not doing anything particular, and the urge to fill
those ''empty'' times with electronic entertainment will often be
irresistable. Thus, rather than develop the ability to think private
thoughts, stare out the window, doodle, or strike up a conversation with
the person next to them, kids can now disappear into the electronic
game world. The more they do this, the less able they are to do
otherwise, as they do not have the inner resources to endure ordinary
non-stimulating existence. I see kids in restaurants who can't wait for
their food without handheld devices to get them through, and I was
dismayed by a picture of a boy at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade
in Manhattan, oblivious to what was surely a sufficiently exciting event
by most standards, face pointed down at his GameBoy. And as a busy
parent the temptation, once it's available, for YOU to turn it on will be
great. Better not to have the option, and deal with a little boredom and
I would highly recommend not giving your child a pocket knife.
She will be very tempted to take it to school and show friends
and if found, she can be suspended or even expelled due to the
zero tolerance policy most school have around knives. A friend
of my son's found a small penknife in a vacant lot on his
street and took it to school without his parents even knowing
he had found it. He thought it was some great archeological
find and was proudly showing it off. He was nearly expelled
from 3rd grade and it took much work on his parent's and the
principal's part (this kind of infraction automatically goes
above the principal to the district) to have him remain in
school and at that school. (they finally had agreed to
only ''expell'' him from that school and transfer him, he
eventually was allowed to stay where he was).
The game boy is your own call. I haven't bought any game
systems for our kids, but my daughter saved up and bought her
own when she ws 10. She rarely uses it, mostly because games
are so expensive and again, we won't buy any, and then she
usually only uses it when she is at places with alot of waiting
(airport, doctor, waiting in the car when we do sibling pick
ups, etc.) If her use had become a concern it would have easily
I'm totally with you on the Gameboy but I have compromised on
that and have some experience to share with you about the pocket
knife as well. I have an 8 yr. old son who, like all children,
wanted a gameboy. Well, my 21 yr. old daughter never had one (and
she's graduating from college this spring!) so I thought he could
do without one. However, we had a lot of 6 hr. trips to make last
year and so I bought him an OLD (B&W) gameboy on ebay with the
understanding that it was only for long car rides. Well, he began
to love to go anywhere in the car (I think the mom with the 5 yr.
old who doesn't want to drop off his sibling at daycare may think
about this) and even if it was old, it was new to him. He's over
it now, he takes his bionicles in the car or listens to books on
tape (Lemony Snicket, Harry Potter, etc)
We also closely monitor computer, tv use. Absolutely NO video
games. He's a great reader and plays creatively. We've all read
the info on electronic games so it's kind of a no-brainer anyway.
I did find when we had a playdate with another child who had no
restrictions on Gameboy use it was pretty disturbing to me to see
her attached to her toy-oblivious to the sunny day, pets, toys,
not to mention, playmate... so, I say stand your ground on that.
As far as the pocket knife goes..... I'm sure you know that you
must supervise your child with knives at all times... so you're
going to take on a lot of responsibility with the knife. My son
was whittling wood this summer ... and gashed his thumb!! We had
to call the paramedics, he was thisclose to getting stitches, not
to mention I really panicked. And this was while I was working
nearby and after many warning to cut away from yourself, etc....
Kids and knives don't go that well together, unless you're there,
really there, at all times. So for what it's worth, it sounds
like a great oppy to provide your child with something that will
involve you a lot (get it? :+ )
I just don't think a 9 year old should be given a knife.
My now 13 year old son has asked for a pocket knife for years.
It just doesn't sound like a good idea to me.
Why does your daughter want a knife? Does it make her feel cool?
Does that mean she's taking it out of her pocket to show her
friends? What about at school?
Is she going to use it for something creative or artistic? Then
she can leave it with those supplies.
Would it be just for camping? Then you are there to supervise.
Maybe I'm being overly protective or concerned but it just
doesnt' seem like a good idea to me.
As far as game boy goes....I wish I'd NEVER gotten my kids game
boys. That said....if they didn't have them they would feel like
it's not fair that most of their friends have one and they
don't...peer competition. There are times that I allow them to
play for my convenience to quiet them down or distract them and
keep them busy for short times. My younger son would use it
24/7 if we allowed it. My older son can limit himself.
Even so, when they are playing game boy they are in another
world and are not responsive to anything happening around them,
especially Mom talking to them.
Seems to me girls don't get quite as hooked in as boys, but that
may just be my perspective. Is any of this helpful? These are
hard decisions. Whatever happened to kids wanting fire trucks,
marbles and Patty Play Pals?
I gave my 9 year old nephew a pocket knife for Xmas 2 years ago,
at my brother's request. the people at REI thought I was insane,
but I think parents are the best judge of how responsible their
kids are. If you think she can do it, do it.
As for the gameboy, ask yourself -- are you prepared to enforce
limits around its use forever and ever, dealing with the whining
and the pleading,etc.? More to the point, why get your daughter a
gift you don't want her to play with? My usual criteria for
presents is that I'll only get it if I think my kids are going to
play with it A LOT -- otherwise it's just more useless junk
clogging up the house. A gift that I want him to play with as
little as possible seems like a waste.
no gameboy in my house
I got a Brownie knife when I was probably 8 or 9. I loved it, and
carved a small wooden boat with it that I still have. Also, we
gave my daughter a gameboy when she was around 8 or 9. It was
great for car trips. I think it was fine, and I'm no huge fan of
computer games. For her, it was something she played with
More advice about Gameboys
Anybody have any great (Chanukah) gift ideas for a 9-year-old girl? Usually
our daughter has an extensive wish list, but she has nothing on her wish list
this year! I guess that means she has everything already. ;-)
She loves to read, play board games, likes musicals (e.g., movie musicals
like Oklahoma! and the like) and other movies. She likes doing art (she seems
to like drawing/painting best).
Any ideas would be most appreciated - especially with Chanukah being so early
this year (Dec. 4th!)!
Since she likes musicals, and she has enough stuff, how about an IOU for tickets to a
musical in SF this year, or tickets for one that is in town now? There is nothing
like seeing a musical live. We can't do it often cuz it is pricey, but I remember
well the few times we have gone. What a treat!
Anon Musical Lover
You could give a donation in her name to heifer.org, the organization that donates
small and large livestock to people to help them feed themselves and start businesses.
Or you could give a donation in her name to a microcredit organization and she could
track how the business is going and visit it someday. I know that a 9 year old may
not appreciate these gifts as much as a tangible toy in the hand, but if it's
connected with an ongoing relationship, with the grantee or the business owner, maybe
it will click for your daughter.
If going to a show is beyond our budget, how about a CD or DVD of a
What do 6 and 9 year old girls like and want these days? My
nieces live on the East Coast, so I don't see them often enough
to know what's hip in their age groups. They are not
particularly forthcoming about their desires and likes. I am
fast becoming the faraway aunt who gives the too-big, wrong-
color sweaters. I'd prefer to avoid the super commercial stuff,
but I'm not above it. Thanks!
I have a ten year old niece and nephew and buying gifts can be
daunting...especially because they have EVERYTHING. I tried to
go the non commercial route, but ultimately, my expensive non
commercial toys would get pushed aside for mega plastic walmart
toys that cost a fraction. However, I have a few things that
have really shone lately with my niece and I'm quite proud of
Funky watches (I found acool inexpensive watch from SFMOMA and
she just flipped out. Not one of her friends would have one but
it was hip enough to not be too weird).
Those squishy pillows from Brookstone: I started a craze
(according to my niece and sister-in-law) when I got her this
wonderful squishy pillow. Now, all her little friends are
buying them (they also sell them at Bed Bath and Beyond). It's
wild how they love them. My sis in law also got a couple of
them for two kids in their circle who are autistic. They love
BRATZ dolls. Hate to say it, but it's quite popular. My niece,
however, now has every Bratz product known so this pipeline has
I also recommend doing a search on google. I will put in gifts
for six-year-old girl and sometimes interesting stuff pops up.
Also, on amazon.com you can search for gifts that are age
Six Year Old Girl: Polly Pockets, Glass Figurines, Small Backpack, New Lunch Box,
Groovy Girls, Calico Critters;
Nine Year Old Girl: American Girl Books, Anything from Klutz Kids (kit books, such
as nailpolish, hair braiding, knitting, and so on), Stationary (personalized. Can
order online from a number of places), Jewelry.
How about gift certificates to national book stores so they can
choose their own favorite books and CD? How about copies of some
''classic'' books that you loved and that you can give them to help
build their own library? Girls this age often love lots of
little things, like purses, hair accessories, diaries, beads,
etc. I just bought my 8 yr old (and put away for Christmas!) the
new Ello set ''Shopopolis.'' I like the Ello line (available at
Target, among other places), as they are very cute, and also
provide for lots of creative play (and they are small and don't
take too much storage space!). Have fun!
We love books as gifts!!! Around the age of nine or ten my
daughter really enjoyed the books by Gail Carson Levine (The
Wish, The Princess Tales, The Two Princesses of Bamarre, Ella
Enchanted, and others). There are quite a number to choose
from. A little bit later on she started reading A Series of
Unfortunate Events books by Lemony Snicket. There are at least
13 books in the series, and she was always thrilled to get the
next book from one of our relatives. Your six-year-old niece
might enjoy the Junie B Jones books by Barbara Park, our
daughter loved them. I hope this helps.
Fun Educational gift idea for a 9-12 year olds
I'm looking for a christmas gift idea for a 9-12 year old boy.
I want something educational and fun. If you have any ideas
please let me know. thank you
If he's mechanically minded, how about one of those kits from Green Science where you can make a tin can robot, a potato clock, etc. They have them at Sweet Dreams Toys on College. Or, a few doors down on College is the robot store, with all kinds of things you can build. If you're looking for something bigger ticket or less cluttering, how about a gift certificate for a class, like Sarah's Science (www.sarahscience.com), or Kids' Carpentry (www.kidscarpentry.net). Or if he's musical, a gift certificate for BandWorks or Bird School of Music (or whatever music school is local to him).
Mom of Boys
this page was last updated: Nov 18, 2013
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network