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By age 10, children have reached the double-digit milestone, and their teenage years are almost upon us. Children this age are growing on their own and developing their own interests, so gifting a 10-year-old is an opportunity to nurture those passions and encourage exploration.
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Friendship means more to 10-year-olds, too, so look for gifts they can enjoy with their peers, like collaborative art projects. Now that they’ve learned abstract thinking and reasoning skills, they’re ready for board games that are more complex not only in tone and theme, but also in play style (which involves strategic decisions and longer gaming sessions). Many 10-year-olds can handle complex projects on their own and can focus, understand, and correct their own mistakes.
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Remember, as kids get older, imagination is something that gets neglected, said Lisa Regala, director of site and digital experiences at the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, California. “We think it’s for babies, but it’s not. It’s your brain’s natural way to retreat, process and re-engage. Toys, games and sets that encourage daydreaming, creativity, role-play and imagination allow imaginations to flourish.
We drew on the collective experience of parents and other educators on our staff, as well as advice from Regala and other experts, to identify gifts that would challenge, engage and spark the imagination of 10-year-olds. Can’t see what you’re looking for? We’ve got guides to the best gifts for 9-year-olds, tweens and tweens and the best stocking stuffers for kids. If you’re looking for ideas for little ones, check out our guides to the best gifts for 1-year-olds, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, and 5-year-olds. 6 years, 7 years, 8 years. (Since children’s personalities, interests, and development vary greatly, we encourage you to consider these age recommendations.) Share your best ideas in the comments below.
When my daughter and her friend tried threading the needle for the first time, they complained that they accidentally got stuck a few times. Popular in Japan, this craft involves needle-picking small pieces of wool (or even cat or dog fur) into soft, furry items. The children were proud of the results of their efforts – a soft, cuddly owl – and a little proud of their fingers. The Woolbuddy Needle Felting Animal Kit has materials, needles, and instructions for creating a variety of cute animals (you can choose from giraffes, owls, and cows). Now that my daughter knows what needle feels like and has a needle kit she can buy extra wool and use her imagination to make whatever she wants. (I’m sure some of the family members are getting animals as holiday gifts this year.) “It’s a nice step to do something outdoors,” said Lisa Regala of the Bay Area Discovery Museum, who recommends the kit for kids. Age Category
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Thames and Space Out: The Game – House of Puzzles is part of a series of practical, escape room-style games you can play at home. It’s a fun way for older kids to work together to solve mysteries, said Brian Mayer, Play, Learning and Library Specialist in New York City. Players are “trapped” in an abandoned house and must figure out a series of puzzles and puzzles to “escape.” The Exit series won the 2017 Kennerspiel des Jahres Award for games aimed at more experienced players. There are several games in the series with themes like Sunken Treasure and Secret Lab, but Meyer recommends Tricky House as a good introductory choice for most 10-year-olds. Because the games in this series require players to draw and cut game pieces, they can only be played once. Taking an hour or two to complete, these games can provide a fun bedtime activity or a whirlwind afternoon.
There is something fascinating and comforting about watching glowing balls of wax move in a lava lamp. Sometimes my kids and I look at our kids and try to guess the shapes of the spots, like a tree or a cat or … a fish. It takes a while for the lamp to warm up and the wax to move, but once it’s up and running, the lamp adds a mood to any room. Choose one of your 10-year-old’s favorite colors to match their taste (Lava Original lamps come in a variety of colors and styles). These lamps get hot, so they are not a good choice for very young children. Allow them to turn off and cool overnight before using to preserve the wax thread.
A colorful twist on magnetic poetry, DePaul University College of Education professor Hilary Conklin says paint chip poetry is fun for kids and adults alike. The set contains 400 coloring chip cards with words or phrases such as “from sight”, “first kiss” and “golden hour”. Given one of 40 prompts, such as “When I was little” and “Worth the wait,” players combine paint chips to write a poem. There’s no way to win – this game gives kids the chance to be creative, express themselves, and mix words and colors. If kids have writer’s block, a game can spark their creative juices and create their next masterpiece.
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Donating to a worthy organization is a gift to your child that teaches them compassion and generosity and shows them how fulfilling it is to help others. You can look for ways to make a local impact through a nearby food bank or animal shelter; DonorsChoose also lets you search by zip code for teachers and schools in need of help. If you’re not sure which nonprofit to choose, services like GuideStar, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, and Charity Navigator can help you choose one wisely. Some even offer a physical thank-you gift in return: When a friend donated to the World Wildlife Fund for my kids, we received super-soft, plush stuffed animals in the mail.
If you grew up playing with a spirograph (like me), this fun figurine set will be as nostalgic as it is creatively relaxing for your child to use. Inspired by the original Spirograph that debuted in 1965, this version adds new shapes to the mix (diamond, heart, ellipse, etc.) and can be used with other Spirograph kits. (If your child wants to really practice their technique, this video is a good place to start.) Tip: Try pairing the Spirograph with Pilot Frixion ColorStix Erasable Gel Ink Stick Pens, a pick from our guide to the best pens.
I can only draw basic stick figures and scenery, but that’s part of the fun of Telestrations, a board game that combines phone and pictures from childhood. Each player starts with a dry erase marker, a small sketchbook, and a card with a list of objects. Draw one of the objects (such as a shipwreck, rhinoceros, or typewriter) and pass the sketchbook to the next player, who must guess the object and draw an interpretation of it. By the end of a tour, what starts out as a “basketball hoop” turns into a “submarine” like a tour with my family. Telestration is a fun, laugh-out-loud game, especially if you have a large group — and it’s great for many kids ages 10 and up, said Brian Meyer, a New York-based play, learning and library specialist.
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A portable, packable hammock is always a winner on camping trips or vacations, but it can also create a cozy private space for a child to read or daydream in the backyard. After testing 10 low profile hammocks, our favorite was the ENO SingleNest Hammock. It folds compactly and weighs only one pound, but when strung between two trees (or other support), it becomes a comfortable and sturdy sling for lounging and relaxing. The ENO holds up to 400 pounds, so it can comfortably accommodate two kids at once and provide a fun hangout spot. (Note that hanging straps must be purchased separately.) For indoor coverage, we also like this Hurkla Sensory Swing, featured in our guide to toys for children with disabilities. .
Pilot Frixion ColorSticks Erasable Gel Ink Stick Pens ($12 set of 10 when posted)
A collection of ideas for drawing and writing tools is a great gift idea. My daughter loves the rainbow colored gel pens she got