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If you’re having trouble picking out the right birthday gifts and toys for the 9-year-old in your life, you’re probably in good company. Nine can be a strange age to navigate — for both the child and the adult trying to come up with gift ideas for a 9-year-old boy or girl. They’re more like big kids now and want big kid gifts that are cool, fun, and not for the littles. Forget the water tables and mini-kitchens, it’s time for remote control spiders, flying toys, tie dye kits, and mystery books. Even Claire S. Green, President of Parents’ Choice Foundation, the nation’s oldest nonprofit dedicated to finding quality media and toys, agrees.
“Nine-year-olds are more independent than they’ve ever been,” explains Green. “Take advantage of the time you have until they’re captured by aliens and whisked off to Planet Adolescence.”
Nine is the age when kids begin to customize their things and themselves. Green explains that, although they’re often ready to belong to a social group or school club, they’ll come running home to loving arms if things go awry.
“They may focus on a specific interest longer and with more intensity, but their loyalty to those interests may give you whiplash,” Green says.
In addition to teasing their brains with puzzles, 9-year-olds are also learning that not everything is black and white and, as a result, they develop more social awareness at that age.
“Nurture their blossoming empathy,” Green urges. She also says this may be the right time to have them start taking care of a pet — but start with a goldfish just to be safe!
With all these recommendations in mind, Scary Mommy has curated the best gifts and toys for the 9-year-old boy or girl in your life.
(Please note that Green has not endorsed any of the specific products listed in this guide; they are entirely the selections of the Scary Mommy team and have not been reviewed or approved by Green.)
Science & STEM Toys for Kids
Green says nine-year-olds are “100 percent” ready for science toys. “And please, don’t tell girls they can only experiment with bath soaps and perfume,” she adds.
For a gift that keeps on giving, check out KiwiCo’s subscription boxes. While the company offers several different themed boxes (from art to cooking to geography and beyond), the Tinker Crate is perfect for a 9-year-old science enthusiast or any curious kiddo between the ages of 9 and 14. Crates are shipped monthly and include everything you need to complete a STEM-themed project (think: building bottle rockets, water irrigation systems, coin-eating robots), kid-friendly instructions, and a Tinker Zine that has more content and activities. Every box aims to not only be accessible for kids of all learning types but also fun. These boxes are designed to stimulate your child’s curiosity, problem-solving, and critical thinking without bogging them down with technical terms.
Got any young engineers in the house? This incredible Snap Circuit kit includes 60+ parts. For you non-science-y parents, that’s enough materials to make more than 300 experiments. (Add the 3, carry the 1 and – looks like your 9 year old is going to be busy for…a while.) The best part is that there is no soldering or tools required. Everything simply snaps right into place! Your mini builder can create projects like an AM radio, a two-finger touch lamp, and even a lie detector. But be careful, Mom – once they get drunk with power of their engineering abilities, there is absolutely no stopping them from administering the lie detector on you or the rest of the family. (Although, we admit: It may come in handy should, say, all the cookies in the house mysteriously disappear. #WhoStoleTheCookiesFromTheCookieJar.) Kids can also make working models of a photo sensor, a flashing light, and even an adjustable-volume siren… But again, be careful of that one, Mom. You don’t want to be waking up to a siren blasting from your engineer-in-training’s room!
Collectibles for Kids
“Be they Vacation Rocks, L.O.L Surprise! or Funko Pop!, these kids will start collecting,” Green says of nine-year-olds.
Did you even know that Tamagotchi was back? YES! Just like the Tamagotchi you remember, this virtual pet will have your kids screaming “I want one!”. Following the launch of Tamagotchi On Fairy & Magic, Bandai America has followed with this newest version— Wonder Garden. With millions of different characters, the Wonder Garden is equipped with new special features like a new room change, new games, a special land and cross-platform connectivity. Tamagotchi On is great for a few minutes of play time between classes as well as for on-the-go entertainment. It fits easily in your kids’ pockets and doesn’t require internet access, allowing kids to tend to their My Tama on the go! Plus, this “pet” doesn’t have any clean up, so next time they start whining for a pet, think how much easier this kind will be.
We don’t dare to try to understand what it is about Squishys that makes them so addicting, but we promise these collectible Squishys will go over well – like, super well – with your 9-year-old kiddos. One package includes 12 pieces of mochi Squishys toys and four pieces of mini foamy slow-rising panda keychains. All Squishys are super soft to the touch, making them both soothing and calming. In fact, they kind of have a similar effect to 2018’s fidget spinner. Sure, Squishys are a lot like squeezable stress balls, but they’re so much more satisfying if that’s even possible. The panda key chains have a slow-rising feature, which means the material pops back slower than the other squeeze toys, giving it an even more satisfying effect. (It’s fun to watch it slowly pop back – kinda like memory foam.) Each of the Squishys are made from non-toxic soft TP-rubber and PU and come in different animal and nature shapes – sleeping kitty cats, koala, hedgehog, the sun, and more – for the ultimate Squishys collection. Give this set of Squishys to your kid, but don’t make the mistake of touching these yourself, because you absolutely will not be able to stop squishing them. #CannotStopSquishing.
Funko! Pops are some of the hottest items to collect right now. If you’re new to Funko! Pop, we’re #SorryNotSorry but you’ve totally been living under a rock. Good news is though, the 9-year-old in your life will not only for sure know what a Funko! Pop toy is, but they would absolutely love to get gifted one. These POP vinyl figurines come in just about every character nowadays – from this SSGSS Goku from the animated series Dragon Ball Super and The Golden Girls cast to classic Disney characters and Dwight from The Office. So, if your 9-year-old isn’t a Goku fan, that’s okay – there is literally a Funko! Pop character for everyone. Or if your 9-year-old is *super* into Goku (and Dragonball Super, by extension) then help them collect Goku’s buds: Vegeta and Piccolo. And as usual, this Goku Funko! Pop comes with the traditional chalice sticker which collectors-in-training will also appreciate.
Who the hell knows why 9-year-olds enjoy playing with little versions of real sh*t that we as parents actually have to buy, but it’s true – kids go gaga for this stuff. If you’ve got a little collector in your life, challenge them to go Pokémon style and collect ‘em all. The Lil’ Shopper pack comes with a collector’s case that can store and display up to 52 Real Littles. (It also comes with an exclusive strawberry Pop-Tart Real Littles to kick off her collection!) Now, what children actually decide to do with these mini versions of real-life brands, we’re not sure; but what we do know is that they love-love-love unboxing them and will never stop thanking you for adding to their Shopkins Real Littles collection.
Arts & Crafts for Kids
“From paint and colorful marker kits to cameras and movie-making apps, this age group is developing style,” says Green.
The most traditional approach you can take to tie dye is the iconic rainbow sherbet look – AKA throw in every damn color of rainbow! This rainbow one-step kit from Tulip is perfect for group dyeing activities that involve the whole fam. After all, it’s one-step and provides enough dye (and materials) to design up to 30 do-it-yourself tie dye projects! Inside the kit you’ll find 5 rainbow dyes – yellow, magenta, blue, green, and violet – plus 5 refill packets, 8 pairs of protective gloves (to keep you and the kids mess-free!), 40 rubber bands, and instructions for 14 different tie dye techniques. From the classic festival tee (think the tie dye t-shirt your grandpa probably wore to Woodstock) to a blended watercolor technique for items like knapsacks and sneakers, tie dye with this rainbow Tulip kit and you’ll go from white to wow in just a few hours.
This DIY rainbow and unicorn-themed kit from Laevo has literally everything you need (including the stuff you didn’t know you needed) to have the slime of your life. Actually, maybe not the slime of your life, but definitely the slime of your kid’s life. This DIY slime kit is the ultimate when it comes to supplies. Featuring 53 slime supplies in total, your 9-year-old will find everything from slime activator and soft clay to colorful add-ins glue, and snow powder inside. As the parent you may not totally be into slime (ugh, it’s so time-consuming and messy!), but trust us – kids love it (for whatever reason!). And with this kit, you don’t have to worry about throwing out yucky excess slime that doesn’t turn out right the first time. This kit includes everything your kid needs to perfect their slime consistency every time, without fail. It also includes everything your kid could want when changing consistencies; it’s got everything to make cloud slime, fluffy slime, butter slime, glowing slime, crunchy slime, and more. Not to mention, they have every color of the rainbow to choose from.
Need a break from all the slime-making? Mom, we don’t freaking blame you. If the 9-year-old in your life is still jonesing for a do-it-yourself activity, we happen to think that this Make Your Own Soap kit from Klutz is a parent-approved alternative. The 2017 National Parenting Center Award Winner, this make your own soap kit contains materials to make as many as 10 soaps in different shapes, colors, and scents. It also comes with a 36-page book with fun and brightly colored illustrations and interesting new soap-making recipes on each page. Plus, sidebars inside the book contain fun facts about the chemistry of how soap cleans – not to mention, easy and safe to-do at home science experiments that teach children about sanitization and germs. Unlike some other soap-making kits, this one from Klutz doesn’t just make your standard circle soap. This kit features molds in the shape of a cupcake, a star, a kitty-cat face, and even comes with cosmic-grade glitter and a plastic fish for sticking inside the soap for a fun surprise! Making soap at home – it’s more relevant than ever now, right?
Sports Toys for Kids
“Yes, there will be competition, but keep it friendly,” Green suggests. “Not every backyard badminton game should be treated like an Olympic trial.”
According to Green, competition is good. In fact, some might even call it healthy. Use this rubber horseshoe set to teach your kid the real meaning of the saying, “Close only counts in horseshoes.” It’s designed for both indoor and outdoor play, thanks to super lightweight playing mats with center pegs and horseshoes, which are made out of rubber. If your kids opt to play outdoors, tell them to ditch the playing mats and instead use the plastic dowels. Anchor them into the ground for perfect outdoor play. Kids will love figuring out how to achieve the perfect throw – height, length, and strength – while parents will love how quickly this game assembles and disassembles. Since it’s made from rubber, you don’t have to worry about rogue horseshoes scratching up your walls or floors, but what’s also great about the rubber set is that it comes apart in a matter of seconds. Kids can put it together on their own, but they can also put it away on their own. What’s not to love?
Growing up, your mom might have often yelled, “No ball-playing in the house!” but the hovering WisToyz ball is about to change the game. If you think “indoor soccer” is an oxymoron, think again. The hover soccer ball has a super soft foam bumper, making it totally suitable for indoor play. Hardwood floors, tile, basement, low-pile carpet – you name it! The soccer ball also features multi-color LED lights that keep kids engaged and (if they’re quiet) even playing when the lights go out. The ball also comes with a rechargeable lithium ion battery and an extra inflatable ball. The foam bumper protects your kids, sure, but let’s be honest, it also protects your furniture and walls from bumps, bangs, scratches, and crashes. After all, an indoor soccer mom is the best kind. Think about it: You can cheer on your little kickers right from the comfort of your own home, set on the couch drinking a Pinot grigio, with the Real Housewives of New York on in the background. Go team!
Electronic Toys for Kids
“This is a tough one [because] many of these ‘toys’ are really devices,” Green explains. “Yet, there are some excellent ‘toys’ that teach coding and game design.”
The Hexbug Spider is a remote control toy that your bug and tech obsessed 9-year-old will love. It has a head that rotates 360 degrees, crawls in any direction, and comes in five different colors. One mama said, “Great for the price and it being a smaller toy! My son loves being able to move things around with a remote.”
When you’re nine, you love robots. They’re just… cool! If you have a robot lover at home, don’t just gift them a robot. That’s wayyyyy to easy! With the Boost Creative Toolbox from LEGO, this gift is part-present and part-challenge. After all, inquisitive minds have to work at getting to their robot, building, learning, and programming their very own bot. This kit includes 847 LEGO pieces that your kiddos can build and then rebuild later on into five different (but all equally cool) multifunctional models. Kids will love tinkering with the pieces, learning about the latest tech like color, distance, and tilt sensors. LEGO has named him Vernie, but your 9-year-old, of course, can rename their bot before programming him to dance, rock out on guitar, and even foster a cat (also pre-named, Frankie). The best part is, each one of these robot coding activities keeps your child’s mind active, so they’re not just playing, but they’re learning, too. Vernie the Robot also connects to the LEGO BOOST app on a tablet or mobile phone and can be combined with other LEGO kits such as the LEGO City 60194 Arctic Scout Truck or LEGO NINJACO 70652
Now that your 9-year-old is all set, check out our other awesome toys for all ages!
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