If you think buying a gift for a 10 year old is tough, try being a 10 year old. They’re so not a little kid anymore, but really not a pre-teen. They are imaginative and curious but also stubborn and independent. Buying a birthday gift for a 10 year old boy and girl can be tricky, but they’ll probably like it more than they let on. Do they love to read? Think mystery books. Do they secretly enjoy puzzles? Go for 3D puzzles. There are even board games perfect for a 10 year old boy or girl. Buying a 10 year old birthday present, or coming up with gift ideas for a 10 year old boy or girl who has everything, can sound daunting, but remember— all kids love getting gifts!
“At the age of 10 years, children are really beginning the transition into adolescence but are young children in heart and mind still,” Dr. Syeda Amna Husain, M.D., FAAP, of Pure Direct Pediatrics told Scary Mommy of the unique developmental dichotomy experienced by children at this age.
Of course, we were all 10 at some point, but as we grow up, it can be difficult to remember what it really felt like. You know, 20, maybe even 30 years ago.
“Open communication is very important between parents and the child at this time as the social pressures to fit in begin, along with increasing schoolwork and piling extracurricular activities,” Dr. Husain explains.
TL;DR: It’s tricky being 10. And, as such, your 10 year old might be a tough nut to crack when it comes to picking out the perfect present.
With this in mind, we picked the brains of Dr. Husain and several other experts to find the toys, games, and kids more best-suited for 10 year olds — gifts that both adults and kids will love since they are geared specifically toward this age of development.
Science Kits for Big Kids
“At this age, children can think more abstractly and form more organized thoughts. Their attention span is longer, and they’re able to work for long periods of time on activities they enjoy,” explained Dr. Husain. “For this reason, I think toys like science kits for your science buff can be a great addition.”
With over 1,000 rave Amazon reviews, this 52-piece AmScope Kids’ Beginner Microscope STEM kit features all the things a little scientist could need to experiment their heart out. The sleek carrying box is lightweight and portable and houses the starter microscope so clean-up is easy. The microscope itself features a rotating turret that provides six different levels of magnification so he can see the ins and outs of insects, bacteria, fabric, leaves, cells, and even brine shrimp. It’s also got a monocular viewing head with LED and mirror illumination and a built-in color filter wheel. We don’t know what that does, but hey, your little experimenter will figure it out eventually, right? This kit features 52 accessories all in all, making it the perfect gift for budding scientists who are ready to explore the world of science on their own – not just in the classroom.
This science kit was designed with gals in mind and it’s a perfect gift for your favorite curious 10-year-old! It includes a 32-page lab notebook that teaches the basics about chemical reactions, molecular motion, and temperature. It also comes with three beakers, a pair of safety goggles, a thermometer, a digital timer, and plenty of chemical reagents to bubble up. She can play around with up to 19 different science experiments, ranging from ones that are colorful to surprising. The book also includes fun facts, quizzes, and blank pages for little Einsteins-in-training to doodle, design, and even dream about their own experiments. As if you needed any more of a reason to buy this STEM gift for the little lady in your life, the Foundation Chemistry Kit is actually award-winning. That’s right – it’s won a Parents’ Choice Gold Award, a Dr. Toy Best Educational Toys Award, and was even a Finalist for Toy of the Year.
Arts & Crafts for Big Kids
“It’s important to help your child develop creative outlets to cope with the emotional feelings that are intensified,” Dr. Chaye Lamm Warburg, DPS, OTR, and founder of Pediatric Occupational Therapy Services, LLC told Scary Mommy. So, Dr. Warburg recommends gifting your 10-year-old with arts and crafts projects such as origami, woodworking, tie-dying, jigsaw puzzles or, really, anything that gives them an outlet for their emotional energy.
Tie-dye is totally in right now and with the help of this creative kit, your little fashionista can make her very own designs. What parents will love most about the Cool Maker kit is that it’s mess-free. The color for the dye is already in the string, so hands stay 100 percent clean as kids make t-shirts, headbands, tote bags, and whatever else they want featuring unique color patterns. The kit comes with 65 feet of Tidy Dye String so kids’ imaginations can run wild without running out of string. At least for a while! The kit includes one Cool Maker Tidy Dye station, five Tidy Dye Color Pod Strings (in pink, orange, yellow, purple, and blue), two Tidy Dye bands, one headband project, one tote bag project, a pair of plastic gloves, aplastic sheet, and a playbook. Cool Maker makes tie-dying easy, mess-free, and most importantly, fun!
The 10-year-old in your life may have everything – a bike, a Wii, and an iPhone, but you know what they probably don’t have? The knowledge of origami. The Colorful Origami Paper Kit is a fun and easy way to inadvertently give the gift of a new skill. Featuring high-quality, square origami sheets that come with 10 practice papers and 108 double-sided vivid origami folding papers (in 54 different patterns!), kids can self-teach themselves the art of origami via the instruction book (aided of course by YouTube lessons). Origami is also a great skill to learn together as a family, so if you’re game, Mom, you can learn alongside your child using the instructional booklet. Besides the family bonding time it’ll give you, here’s what you’re also going to love about origami, Mom: it’s mess-free, not bad for the environment, and makes for great – and we mean great – cards come Mother’s Day.
Board Games for Big Kids
“Children at this age also do well with goal-oriented activities, so board games are good toys that the whole family can enjoy. I’m always a fan of bringing back family game nights!” said Dr. Husain.
One of the silliest games on the market for kids right now (so duh, one of our faves) is Spontuneous. Like tune, get it? Anyway, the whole point of the board game is to belt out tunes from start to finish. But not just any song. No, Spontuneous will never ask you to finish the lyrics to Katy Perry’s “Firework.” Instead, Spontuneous’ M/O is to encourage and inspire to start singing songs that don’t yet exist. Here’s what we mean: Once you hear a word, you “spontuneously” burst into song to your best ability. Sing the first thing that comes to mind. And yeah, you basically just keep doing that to make your way along the treble clef-shaped board. The more creative you are the better. Can you sing about microwaves? Rap about dog paws? Then maybe – just maybe – you have what it takes to become the next winner of American Idol — uh, we mean, the next winner of Spontuneous.
If the name of this game sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because Kids Against Maturity is totally a PG-rated play on Cards Against Humanity. You know, the dirty adult version that can get weird like, really freaking quickly (especially if wine is involved). Anyway, Kids Against Maturity is a much kid-friendlier version of the game, featuring age-appropriate toilet humor and funny “innuendos” that will happily go right over the kiddos’ heads for us grown-ups to enjoy. This game set features 500 question-and-answer cards that come in a box that’s portable so kids can take it anywhere: on a plane, to camp, family gatherings, sleepovers, game nights – wherever! Like the original game that started it all, Kids Against Maturity uses the fill-in-the-blank game play we’ve come to know and love to keep kids (and adults) giggling for hours. Each player gets 10 white answer cards and then takes turns asking the blue question cards, all with the goal of putting down the funniest answer that ultimately gets picked. The more question cards you collect as the winner with the funniest answers, the closer you are to winning!
Coding Kits & Toys for Big Kids
“The key at this age, developmentally, is the right level of written instructions — and the incentive to follow them to complete a high-interest project is just as key,” explained board-certified child educator and teacher Nancy Poznansky. Foster this with a gift that teaches coding, so that your kid gets to see how cool the results can be when you follow directions (i.e. watching a robot retrieve cubes).
And if you want to really impress the kiddo you’re gifting, consider an Amazon STEM Club toy subscription and select the 8-13 age option. This subscription features gifts handpicked by toy experts, designed to inspire future engineers and scientists. Each mailer will include toys that highlight principals of physics, chemistry, and engineering! It costs $19.99 per box and you can cancel at any time.
This cool gift from ThinkFun combines the logic of coding and gameplay and actually teaches programming basics in a way kids can understand and retain. Code Master contains 10 maps with over 60 levels to solve – both beginner and expert levels – 12 guide scrolls, 20 tokens, and an instruction book that also contains the solutions. What we love most about this game is that the instructions are super easy, so you won’t be hearing, “Mom! I need help!” every five minutes. With over 50 million Code Masters sold, this programming logic game ignites the minds of kids while developing their problem-solving, planning, and reasoning skills. In this game, the avatar travels through worlds in search of crystals, but through each level, only a specific coding sequence can help move you along. And if a player makes it all the way to the portal? Well, Bill Gates, basically.
Kids in the double-digits love to build, so why not start with a robot? This solar robot creation kit includes 190 pieces that, when assembled, power up via the sun. A creative 10-year-old can build different types of robots, from Puppy Bot to Row Bot! With an assortment of different moving and connecting parts – like gears, plates, tires, and shafts – the included blueprints act as detailed instructions for building 12 different robots. Why should a kid build a robot, you ask? Well, Moms, tinkering with robots isn’t just fun, it also happens to be pretty damn educational. The problem-solving process of building can help empower young minds to create a bot, disassemble it, and then do it all over again. The included solar panel piece – which powers the negative and positive cables of the robot – also helps rev up the bot, so your young mastermind can enjoy the fruits of their robot labor.
Gifts for Big Kids That Encourage Empathy & Understanding
“At 10, children become much more aware of the wider world and social responsibilities. They are less cynical than teenagers but will be clear-sighted and see through something that is phony or unrealistic,” shared Presidential Award-winning child educator Nino Trentinella from Rainy Day Sunny Play.
Give a gift your favorite 10-year-old book worm will remember and treasure forever. Kids love Auggie Pullman, the unforgettable protagonist at the center of R.J. Palacio’s book (which was recently made into a movie) Wonder. Auggie was born with a facial difference that makes him stand out in his regular school. But after starting up at a brand-new school, he’s stunned to find out his new fellow students are just so interested in his extraordinary face! Auggie’s story has the ability to open up the mind of any 10-year-old to the idea that differences aren’t bad; they are what makes us us. And if you’re up for it, Mom, read along with your kid, and you might just find that Auggie’s story gives even you – an adult – all the feels, too.
Sometimes as kids get older, it can feel harder for them to talk to us. And honestly, vice versa. But even if you’re not like a regular mom, you’re a cool mom, it can still be ~*sUpEr WeIrD*~ for kids to come forward and talk about meaningful things. That’s why it’s important to set the foundation for those hard-to-have conversations early on. Holstee Reflection Cards helps you do that, Mom. This deck comes with 100+ cards featuring questions specifically designed to spark meaningful conversations, deepen connections, and develop feelings of gratitude, compassion, kinship, and self-reflection. The cards are color-coded so you can guide your conversation with your kid the way you want it to go, based on theme. Think your child could benefit from a little compassion? Choose specific cards that really hone that skill. With this game, you can rest assured knowing that you’re doing what you can to teach your kids about connecting with other people and embracing vulnerability. Maybe of more of us played empathic card games when we were younger, it wouldn’t be so freakin’ hard to talk about our feelings now as adults!
Outdoor Toys and/or Sports Gear for Big Kids
“Tweens tend to be sedentary as academics become more serious and time-consuming, so intentionally integrate physical activity and nature into their weekly routines, either alone or with friends,” Dr. Warburg told us. “Try to incorporate aerobic activity, muscle strengthening, and bone-strengthening activities. Activities in nature have mental health as well as physical benefits.”
Get ready for the screams of “Oh my God – no way!” and “Dope!” when your 10-year-old unwraps this crowd-pleasing gift. The EzyRoller enables any lucky 10-year-old to kick back and pedal forward, at full speed ahead! It’s better than a scooter, cooler than a bike, and snakes around like a worm with right-left leg movements. Why we love this modern take on the go-kart (beside it reminding us of that day in gym class when we got to ride the butt scooters): the EzyRoller is extendable, so it grows with your child as they get older. While the kids drift around the driveway, parents will feel thrilled that they’re burning up so much energy. Kids can keep their hands free on these wheels, too, which means outdoor ball sports will never be the same again. Available in lime green, black, pink, purple, orange, red, and blue colors, the wheels on this sweet ride are non-marking, so technically, it can be driven indoors or outdoors.
Remember capture the flag? Ah, the memories. This outdoor game is the perfect gift for a 10-year-old to open at the start of the party. Up to 20 players can glow and go all through the night with a classic game of capture the flag – you know, with a glow-in-the-dark twist. Pick your teams, mark your territory, hide the orb (AKA flag), play, and WIN! Anywhere from four to 20 people can play at once and we’re pretty confident that it won’t be just the kids volunteering for teams. This glow-in-the-dark version of the game might just even inspire the teens and the grown-ups to get involved, too. You know, for nostalgia’s sake. This game develops teamwork, social skills, strategy, and perhaps most importantly, keeps kids off their screens and running around in the yard. The goal is the more you play the faster you run, the better you get at hiding, and the more energy you burn off before bed.
Once the 10-year-old in your life is all set on gifts, check out more toys for all ages!