What are the best gifts for 9 year olds to 12 year olds? This list is filled with 30+ thoughtfully curated gift ideas for tweens. With suggestions ranging from toys to craft kits to gadgets that promote skill building, this gift guide for 9-12 year olds has something for everyone.
What are the best gifts for 9 year olds (and older)?
The best gifts for 9-12 year olds are thoughtful gifts that support the child’s growth, independence, and current interests.
By the tween age, a child’s personality is unlocked and their hobbies, likes, and dislikes are fully on display. You know who they are as a person and what interests them.
But very often, toy lists for tweens focus on gimmicks, fads, trends, and technology gadgets that serve a limited or one-dimensional purpose.
You know the kinds of one-off toys I’m talking about.
You’ve seen them on toy shelves and flashing on the pages of catalogues.
Gifting to 9-12 years doesn’t have to be like that. It doesn’t have to be a parade of branded trends. Even with tweens, we can still gift long-lasting, hands-on, and meaningful gifts that will make an impact in their play life, education, and growth as a person.
This gifts for 9 year olds to 12 years olds list is all about that.
Is this list divided by gender?
This list is not gendered because toys for kids don’t have genders. It’s about finding toys and gifts that interest the child and mean something to their development.
Many kids enjoy archery.
Many kids gravitate to the arts.
All kids need to learn to cook.
All kids should have access to STEM products.
As you read through this list, think about the child you are buying for. Consider who they are, what they like, and what they’ve shown you about their personality. That’s the information you need when buying a gift.
How was this gift guide curated?
This gift guide was created from watching the play and interest habits of my own children (almost 9 and 10 years old) as well as their neighborhood friends (a group of five additional kids in the 9-12 year old age range).
Observing their play over the years has given me valuable information on what toys and gifts work well in this unique age group. This is a group growing before our eyes while still clinging on to the last stages of childhood.
Don’t dismiss toys with this group: everything on this list has been thoroughly tested, loved, and played with by a variety of big kids – even the toys.
All products on this list are owned by my kids or their friends. Nothing on this list is a guess or based on online reviews. These are tried and true toys and gifts.
Revealed – the best gifts for 9 year olds to 12 year olds
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Oh Tamagotchi. Did you have one? They’re back and the EXACT same as you remember. We’ve all loved having “Tomi” this year.
Bow and Arrow Set
Got this for my 10 year old’s birthday and it’s been the talk of the neighborhood. It’s so easy to use, shoots unbelievably far, and doesn’t hurt if you get nailed (I can say from experience).
What a great craft kit. This is doable and makes a great final bracelet – emphasis on doable. I’ve listed it in the 9+ group, but my 8 year old loves this and my first grader is able to do it with some adult help. My 14 year old neighbor also joins in on the fun.
Super Skills Game
This game is a 10/10 for big kids and adults. My then 9-year-old was gifted this from his favorite fun uncle and it was a hit all year. The game is filled with “Minute to Win It” type games. It’s perfect for when big kids have friends over and can’t figure out what to do.
Oh wow – have we had fun with this! It was a 9th birthday gift for a neighbor friend and all the kids gather around. Note: this does NOT come with pre-loaded music. We search YouTube on an iPad or phone for karaoke songs (Taylor Swift 4 Ever on this street) and it works great because the kids aren’t limited to a certain catalogue.
Yep, it’s a metal detector and it’s awesome. If you have a budding treasure hunter, this is exactly right for them. This is a fun gift to give and all the kids have loved it.
This is a very “big kid” present: a flower press. It takes time, a delicate hand, and patience to dry flowers. It’s a beautiful gift to give (my daughter has loved hers).
Next level yo-yo. This is a complicated and intriguing toy for big kids – it takes major skill and practice. It feels very circus performer.
Cookbook for Young Chefs
This is the absolute best cookbook for kids 9+. Where many “kid cookbooks” are very basic, this is a real cookbook with really good recipes that kids can cook. My son (now 10) started with baked cod and roasted potatoes. All made by himself with this cookbook. It also has lots of great cooking information so it’s a knowledge builder too.
Kid’s Chef Knife
If you have a budding chef, this is the next step up in helping them navigate knives in the kitchen. Adult size knives aren’t made for kid hands. This is. It’s exciting for big kids and unlocks more kitchen independence.
Mini Electric Griddle
Continuing the steps into independence in the kitchen, this mini griddle has been great for my big kids. It’s perfect for pancakes, eggs, and single serve cookies – my kids have mastered eggs over easy (which means making their own breakfast). It’s an awesome little find for kids even thought it’s marketed for adults.
Electric Circuit Kit
A fabulous STEM set for kids interested in electricity. Kids need hands-on learning with science and this makes it playful, engaging, and wonderful allows them to make electrical circuits with play dough.
My First Sewing Kit
This sewing kit is so perfect for big kids who are interested in learning a new skill. The kit has plenty of fabric, options, and easy to read directions for kids to sew on their own.
Magnetic Dart Board
A dart board that won’t put holes in your wall! While it’s definitely a big kid toy, it’s also a favorite of many little kids in my neighborhood.
This is a subscription box. I generally don’t love subscription boxes (they’re expensive and one size fits all) but I’ve made a rare except with Crunch Labs. Mark Rober created this unbelievably unique program of DIY toys to help kids “think like an engineer.”
What’s different from other kits is you have access to Mark’s video lesson where he walks kids through the engineering and physics principle the toy addresses. Then he spirals, loops back, and connects the lesson to past learning from previous builds. It is totally different than other toy-building kits and very much geared at kids 9-12 years old (although my 7 year old is hooked, too).
I am not an affiliate for Crunch Labs and receive no kickback for this review.
For kids 9+, I recommend this real and very well-made microscope for their science exploration. It’s meant for older kids (this isn’t a toy). Giving the gift of curiosity is always a good choice.
A kids Kindle and the gift of reading. This is not a tablet and it doesn’t let kids play games. It’s no different than an adult Kindle (except cheaper). This has been so great for my older kids and being able to take books easily on the go.
To access books, look at gifting a subscription to Amazon’s library. You can also check and see if your local library can connect to the this e-reader.
Whittling was a huge part of our 2023 and this kit was great. My daughter developed an interest in it first and set our whole friend group on a whittling journey. While we did have 5-7 year olds whittling with these knives, I’m dropping the link in this 9+ list for liability reasons (wink). You decide what age is best for your kids.
We all know beading is HOT right now (thanks Taylor Swift). This is my daughter’s favorite beading kit. The finished bracelets are really cute.
Marble runs are fantastic for kids to build with and Gravitrax takes it to a big kid level. This is complex engineering and needs some serious planning, trial and error, and critical thinking. It’s a great toy for 9-12 year olds that my oldest has loved.
Rubik’s Cube Maze
If you have a kid who loves a Rubik’s cube, level it up by adding a maze component. You need to solve the Rubik’s cube as you solve the ball maze. Mind-blowing.
My friend has this swing for her 10 year old and it’s a tween wonderland. It has fabulous privacy, sensory, and relaxation elements. All our kids argue over it at her house.
Friendship Bracelet Kit
This is such a fun set (and it comes with the string to start right away). It also comes with instructions to teach kids how to make string friendship bracelets, which was my favorite hobby in 5th grade.
Mythical Creature Drawing Game
Have an artist? This “game” has kids pick cards that dictate what they will draw, like a wolf/rabbit combination in a mythical forest. It’s giving Liger from Napoleon Dynamite vibes, and the 9-12 year old in our neighborhood have loved it. They gather around, pull cards, draw, and giggle at their creatures.
Check out this robot if you have a kid into coding. This runs off of MIT’s Scratch program and it’s a fantastic “next step” in robots and coding. This is a big robot toy for kids who are ready (my 10 year old and 40 year old have loved it).
This game is so much fun and came to us as a recommendation from 9- and 10-year-old neighbors. We got it and loved it. A perfect twist on Clue for this age group with lots of fun tools for kids to use in their detective work.
Laser Tag Game Set
This is THE SET. I know this is more expensive than other sets, but it’s the only laser tag set I recommend because it works so well. All ages, all genders love this game in my neighborhood.
Think marble run meets logic puzzle. This single player game has kids building small marble runs to complete each logic puzzle. It’s a very cool concept that my kids love, but it’s very much geared at older ages (aka I find this very challenging).
Shoot the Moon
Do you remember this toy? It was a hit in the 1960s (no joke), I had one in the 1990s, and now my kids are loving it today. Proof that basic toys have longevity.
This was a suggestion from an 11 year old friend, and my almost 9 year old loves hers. In fact, all her friends (ranging from 8 to 12 years old) have been gifted their own set too. It’s a really perfect gift for kids.
I gifted this outdoor games set to a 9 year old this summer and it was one of a surprise hit for our whole neighborhood. Kids set up carnival games all summer long with this. It comes with supplies for sack races, a spoon relay, and a three legged race.
Frequently Asked Questions
That’s very personal to your family and should be a decision you make separate of what other families are doing or trends you see on social media.
Yes! Their play has evolved and looks different than it did when they were toddlers and preschoolers, but tweens still love toys, play, and being a kid.