Your child is six years old! Which means he or she is most likely starting the first grade. This is an exciting age when it comes to blending learning with play but it can be hard to figure out the best birthday gifts or anytime gifts for 6 year old boys and girls. They are fun now, and getting smart (ie sassy), so fun puzzles, science kits or flying toys will keep it educational and imaginative.
At this age, according to Marilyn Chapman, Professor Emerita, and former Director of the Institute for Early Childhood Education and Research at the University of British Columbia, both boys and girls benefit from a repertoire of different kinds of play that foster different aspects of their development. “They especially benefit from physical development and well-being, intellectual (cognitive) development, and social-emotional development,” she says. When it comes to selecting the best toys for your kiddo, Chapman recommends to “think ‘both-and’ instead of ‘either-or'” when considering those aspects. For example, maybe you choose an outdoor toy that not only gets your young one moving their body but which also includes a mental stimulation component too.
Adds Dr. Rachelle Smith, an associate professor at Husson University who specializes in psychology and childhood development: “The typical six-year-old is mastering perspective-taking (e.g., that others may have different opinions or beliefs) and starting to make gains in understanding logic.” Smith says prior to age six, most children struggle to understand the perspectives of others, which makes them struggle with losing a game, for example, since they are not thinking about how the other person feels, and have a hard time following logic since they are more driven by intuition. While Smith says there do not tend to be gender differences in these skills at this age “there are definitely individual differences. Since different kids find different things interesting, one would need to know the child to make a good toy selection.” However, says Smith, “with their increases in cognitive development and understanding (and memory abilities) six-year-olds tend to like information about the world and learning about topics that interest them. They can soak up information about the things they like very quickly and become little experts.”
If you’re curious about gender differences when selecting toys, Chapman recommends to parents they read the book “Pink Brain, Blue Brain” by Lise Eliot. “Her research shows that small differences in the brains of boys (as a group) and girls (as a group) turn into bigger differences because we treat them differently, including encouraging different kinds of play.” This is why the toys selected below, along with input from Chapman and Smith, are best suited for both boys and girls.
With all these recommendations in mind, Scary Mommy has curated the best gifts and toys for the 6-year-old in your life.
Outdoor Toys for 6 Year Olds Kids
“Gross motor skills development (which includes the large muscles, such as arms and legs) are essential for physical development and well-being,” says Chapman. “So toys and activities that encourage hopping, skipping, throwing and catching, climbing, running, jumping, and playing with balls, bats, hockey sticks, hoops, and ropes are all worthwhile for girls and boys.”
UM. Are you trying to be the cool Aunt?! Stomp Rocket Dueling Rockets is an absolutely unique and insanely entertaining toy that will make any kid (and their parents) give you a serious nod of thank-you respect. All you have to do is run, jump, stomp. Kids stomp (or jump) onto the 100% kid-powered cannon-like tool to catapult cool rockets into the air. The rockets can soar as high as 200ft in the air, that’s 20 stories high! No wonder this is an award-winning toy. Do you know what makes this toy even better? This toy was invented by aeronautical engineers, so that’s another feather in your cap. The kit includes 4 Ultra Stomp Rockets and a special Dueling Base featuring 2 Stomp LaunchPads. No batteries are required and the setup is super fast and easy. Although this is a low-tech toy, you can still consider it for the STEM category.
Heads up! The WisToyz Hover Soccer Ball Set is just what kids want — an opportunity to kick something and not get in trouble. This upgraded indoor and outdoor soccer game is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery so you won’t need to replace the batteries for a while. The set also comes with an inflatable soccer ball and pump for when you take it to the grass. The two soft-padded bumpers protect your furniture and walls from bumps and bangs but you’ll have to find your own goalie. The extra cool thing about the indoor hover soccer ball is that it features multi-color LED lights, which can turn your fun day activity into a night game party. When the toy is in action, it glides as if it’s a puck on an air hockey table. It’s a super fun way for kids to stay active and build up their pro-player skills.
Got a baller on your hands? Little Tikes Play Like A Pro Basketball Set is a nice upgrade for kids who have played basketball and are ready to level-up to a larger hoop. It’s never too early to teach your child how to drive the lane in basketball. Shooting hoops is a fun activity for children and adults. It’s a great form of exercise and an activity that your child can do alone or with friends. This basketball set includes a breakaway rim and a junior-sized basketball. Add sand to the bottom of the hoop to give it some stability. The height on the hoop can be adjusted from height 4ft to 6ft so your tiny pro can dunk on you. You never know, you could have the next Steph Curry or Diana Taurasi in your house. Then, you can flip the tables and have them take care of you for a change.
STEM and Educational Toys for 6 Year Olds
“Exploration and inquiry-based play builds on children’s innate curiosity and sense of wonder,” says Chapman. “Through inquiry, children actively pose questions, investigate, solve problems, and draw conclusions about the world around them. Any materials or toys that encourage exploration, inquiry, and discovery are worthwhile investments.”
Adds Smith: “Six-year-olds can start to understand why and how an experiment works and start to devise their own experiments or start collecting and sorting specimens in ways that five-year-olds typically can not. These toys are highly supportive of brain development and lay the foundation for future critical thinking skills. These are a great way to introduce cause/effect, learn about testing predictions, and are usually engaging for children (and adults).”
Meet Osmo, an award-winning system that brings learning to life. The Osmo product line blends fun with interactive learning through creative STEM activities. This creative kit is ideal for six-year-olds and older, so one kit can last your child a few years. Children can interact with handheld pieces and their iPad, with no wifi required. Kids will learn drawing, listening, speed of drawing, visual thinking, problem-solving, physics, creative problem solving, and fine motor skills. The games come in three levels from beginner to expert. In the box you’ll find an Osmo base and reflector for iPad, new creative board, 4 dry erase markers, microfiber eraser pouch, stackable storage for each game, and 3 game apps: Monster, Newton, and Masterpiece. Your little Einstein could draw an image of a monster, and then animate it via Osmo. There’s a game included that features 60 levels of creative engineering. It’s an excellent STEM toy to gift.
This Playz Coding and Computer Science Kit offers an exciting way to learn. With this kit, children can create binary necklaces, ancient encryption devices, sorting races, mystery mazes, pixelated pictures, and so much more without the use of a computer. With over 30 parts included, the computer science-themed creation and learning feel endless. One reviewer said, “My son is having a great time with each of the projects in the kit and learning at the same time! It’s perfect for my hands-on learner. He’s using fine motor skills combined with following directions. He was excited to show off his binary code initial necklace and to follow the directions to work his way through a maze. It was great to see him not only figure out how to encrypt a message but to hypothesize that it would be meaningless when wrapped around a larger cylinder. We’re having fun together and learning at the same time. The booklet does a nice job of tying each task back to how a computer codes.”
Get your six-year-old ready to use the force with The Kano: Star Wars The Force Coding Kit which lets your child build their own wireless motion sensor through a creative coding experience. They can code, create, play, and share Star Wars adventures with the wave of their hand. After your child opens the box, all they have to do is follow the step-by-step storybook, learning about the board, button, and bits that make up the motion sensor. Choose between the Rebel Alliance or Galactic Empire. Create coded red or blue lightsabers, levitate stormtroopers, or rebels and discover costumes and droids for your avatar. After your creation is complete, share it online with a safe and secure kid’s coding community. There, you can explore other kids’ code and remix your own. All you need is a compatible tablet and you’re good to go! We know you’re a big Star Wars fan but try not to hog this cool toy.
This interactive globe allows your child to explore cultures and places throughout the world. Your little globetrotter will have access to more than 400 highlights and more than 1000 world facts across 6 categories: culture, monuments, inventions, animals, maps, and weather for countries all over the world. The box comes with a 10” globe, passport, stamps, country flag stickers and a detailed help guide to get you started. Compatible with iOS and Android systems, the Shifu Orboot Globe offers a fun and interactive way to learn geography, history, and environmental science. One reviewer said, “My daughter LOVES it. For someone that is anti-tech Orboot has proven me wrong. The app is jam-packed with information and really helps children (and me) learn more about the world – landmarks, animals, flags etc. It is something we can enjoy and use for many years. Highly recommend!” I wonder where your little one will travel to first?
Imaginative Toys for 6 Year Olds
“Social, make-believe play contributes to the development of cooperation, empathy, impulse control, reduced aggression, and better overall emotional and social health,” Chapman says. “It also facilitates pro-social, cooperative behavior, and fosters friendships.” She adds that an activity such as ‘playing house,’ which requires dressing up in play clothes and shoes with different types of fasteners and using play cooking utensils and cutlery, is also a good activity to help develop fine motor skills.
Says Smith: “The ability to create and explore perspective is engaging at this age. Children can create alternate realities, write plays, take on roles, work through stressors, and real-life experiences through role-playing and pretend play. Many children can spend hours working on scripts and rehearsals and just need an attentive audience at the end.”
Do you know a child poised to be the next beauty influencer? Do you catch them watching beauty tutorials when they should be watching the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse? Are they always getting caught redhanded (or red lipstick-faced) in Mom’s makeup collection? This mess-free fake makeup kit is perfect for your future makeup artist. From nail polish to brushes, compacts, eye shadows, lipstick, and more, it’s totally okay for a kid to play with this pretend cosmetic set. The makeup does not apply to the skin, there’s no liquid or chemical substances. It’s all made from foam and rubber so your child can technically “apply” as much as they want. The set even comes with a makeup back which makes it a great on-the-go toy for vacation. One reviewer said, “It looks AND feels so real. Like, even down to the top of the lipstick, nothing feels like hard plastic like the other sets I’ve seen. Mom win.”
Order up! Give your six-year-old their own business by letting them open up their very own diner. This super unique and beautifully detailed diner kit by Melissa & Doug will keep your favorite mini entrepreneur busy and entertained for hours on end, whether they’re playing solo or serving up diner classics to a full restaurant. No need to hire wait staff, the younger siblings can join in the fun as this set is great for children 3-years-old and up. Complete with a menu, apron, cash tips, shakes, cooking essentials, a coffee pot, and more, this 41-piece set will give a savvy six-year-old the full imaginative experience of running a diner from the back of the house to front of the house… from cracking the egg to cashing out! One reviewer said, “This is adorable. We have lots of play food and kitchen stuff but thought the diner idea was very cute. I see lots of hours of restaurant play In my future. I particularly love the reversible pieces that give us the option of serving “coffee” or “hot chocolate,” etc.”
Ready to expand your restaurant? Take the dining experience to the next level by gifting your kid with this Melissa & Doug Star Diner Restaurant. Complete with black-and-white tiles, roomy booth seating, and even a jukebox, this diner toy set actually looks like the real thing. There’s an oven, stovetop and grill, two-shelf fridge, drink dispenser, and milkshake mixer. Don’t forget to make a reservation, this diner is always busy. One reviewer said, “Very cute. Kids love it. Very durable. Kids will also use it as an extra place to sit and color or snack. Large enough for older kids as well. My kids are tall for their age and we struggled to find a play kitchen suitable. My 2,7 and 8-year-old love it.” This imagination playset will bring hours of screen-free fun to your household. Maybe the owner will let you audition and perform at the diner’s next karaoke night.
Dolls, Action Figures, and Puppets for 6 Year Old Kids
“Dramatic play, with its system of roles and rules — who does what and what is allowed helps children learn and practice their developing self-regulation. Children are highly motivated to stick to the roles and rules that are part of the play,” says Chapman. This could include playing with dolls, action figures, puppets, or plush toys. As for dolls, Chapman says to “choose ones that encourage dramatic play (e.g., baby dolls, figures that can ‘live’ in dollhouses). If possible, find dolls that represent the diversity of humanity.”
The Creatable World doll kit allows children the ability to customize their doll completely. From choosing the perfect hair length and style to the best outfit from an endless mix-and-match wardrobe that can create over 100 looks, this kit flips the script on traditional dolls by letting each child create a doll unique to the way they feel. It’s completely gender-neutral, so in some cases you might even want to highlight that to the recipient to make for an extra special gift. One reviewer said, “This doll is very quick, my daughter really loved that you can change the hair and I think that’s a cute feature. It’s easy to use. It comes with a good variation of clothes and accessories. The size of the doll is good as well. The doll is made well and it holds my daughter’s interest because she likes to change [the] dolls clothing and fix their hair.”
Kids feel so fabulous with this L.O.L. Surprise! fashion kit which includes an (actually stylish) fashion doll and plenty of accessories to boot. In addition to an attention-grabbing outfit, designer details, and unique luxury accessories like a sleek shoe box and hatbox, the surprise set even includes a walk-in closet and changing room, complete with a Hollywood-style light-studded mirror. Your little fashionista gets to unwrap 20 surprises, so this gift just keeps on giving. One reviewer said, “Okay, this is one cute doll. Busy B.B. seems to state all things are possible with hard work, and the right attitude. She looks a little bit country with her braided ponytails and denim overalls, but when her accessories are added she seems more sassy. MGA nailed this one perfectly!!! She comes with a stand so she can be displayed for those of us who are doll collectors. She is the older sister of the LOL Surprise Series 3 Confetti Pop “Can-Do” Babe, which was our absolute favorite doll in that series. Absolutely love!!!!”
Step right up for the greatest show on earth! This unique gift will be the center of so many incredible memories. Whether a kid crafts their own puppets, stocks up on ones they find at the toy store or borrow some beloved characters from the library, this deluxe puppet theater will inspire an adoration of entertaining. This kid’s puppet theater will allow your six-year-old to tap into their imaginations to put on a show using creative expression and storytelling skills. Your showrunner can be their own entertainment at family gatherings, birthday parties and more. In no time, you might even be charged admission! One reviewer said, “The puppet theater, together with the puppets, provided lots of fun to my grandchildren. It triggered their imagination immensely to the point where WE were having as much fun as them. Sturdy, and colorful construction!” Record the performances to share with long-distance family, too.
Funny Toys and Pranks for 6 Year Old Kids
“At around age 6, children are starting to understand pragmatics. Thus, they are just starting to understand implications, puns, dual meanings, sarcasm, etc.,” says Smith. “With these emerging abilities, they become enamored by knock-knock jokes, pranks, and silliness because they are just able to understand why it is funny and how to genuinely trick others.” She adds: “I have no idea why kids like gross things. It’s a phase.”
If you’re not already laughing at this quirky little hamster you will be. This hamster has a talkback function that allows the hamster to repeat everything you say no matter what. If you laugh, it laughs. If you sing, it sings. The best part is that it repeats whatever you say in a high-pitched, squeaky hamster voice, perfect for adding a few giggles to a dull day. One reviewer said, “Bought three of these for my granddaughter, great-niece, and nephew for Christmas. All three loved this toy. Would definitely buy again. While it may drive the adults a little crazy, it is really a lot of fun to have the hamster repeat what you say, even using the same voice tone.” We apologize in advance for the hours your child will spend playing with this hamster. We have no system in place on how to prevent this. Our advice, after hours of play, when you’re about to claw your ears off, hide the hamster until the next day. Just tell the kids it went for a walk.
No one wants to give their money away but with this cute little piggy bank, it’s a must. Sure it’s perfect for a six-year-old, but can’t we get one for ourselves, too?! These penny-pinching pandas will pop out of the box when a coin is placed on the white circle of the box. The panda will say, “Hello!” swipe the coin and disappear, muttering “Thank you!”. It’s a great way to encourage kids to save their coins. It’ll help adults save their coins, too. Who can resist that cute little panda? One reviewer said, “This has been so much fun. The grandchildren are hunting all over the house for change and asking every adult for some too. You place the coin on the bamboo button and push. Then sit back and wait. It takes a minute the lid of the box lifts up just a little and then stops while the panda peeks around to be sure it is safe. It does take a few seconds. Then all of a sudden this little paw reaches out and quickly slides the coin into the box. The entire family has had fun with this.”
How do you make a hotdog stand? Take away its chair. What do you call a liar on the phone? A telephony. Funny stuff right? Give the gift of laughter with this super fun Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids book by Rob Elliot. Containing over 120 pages of jokes that are appropriate for kids of all ages, these jokes will have your kids bursting with giggles. The author swears he wrote it around the dinner table with his wife and five kids! It’s a gift that will provide plenty of entertainment at home, in waiting rooms, and while traveling. It’s already sold over three million copies. One reviewer said, “The book looks small and thin in the ad but it’s actually 7″x4.5″ and 1/4″ thick. 126 pages of super cute appropriate jokes for kids of all ages. Definitely a good buy for the price and the jokester in your family.”
Building Toys for 6 Year Old Kids
“Fine motor skills (small muscle development, especially in hands and fingers) develop as children engage in manipulating small objects and toys, such as building, stacking, and arranging blocks,” Chapman says. According to Chapman, hands-on materials, including loose parts — anything that can be moved around, carried, rolled, piled, or combined, such as wood, containers, shapes, and so on — fosters creativity and encourages children to use their imagination.
LEGO sets are amazing to give when one of the only things you know about a kid is their age. LEGO always includes the recommended age at the top left of the kit, and if you choose a newer release chances are the recipient won’t already have it. If the kid loves dinosaurs, and chances are they do, they’ll be obsessed with this LEGO Jurassic World Dilophosaurus on The Loose Building Kit. This kit includes 168 pieces which should yield hours of build and playtime. Get ready for an adventure. Build a drone and launch a rescue mission to save kid, Hudson Harper, from an escaped dinosaur. The set includes 3 mini action figures: Owen Grady, Hudson Harper, and a park worker as well as a dilophosaurus dinosaur. Your dinosaur wrangler will be able to recreate thrilling action scenes from the LEGO Jurassic World animated series. Any child would be excited about this prehistoric fun.
This illuminated blocks set by Light Stax is a unique gift that any little builder will appreciate. Every single block (all 102 of them) lights up! They snap together and come apart easily. The blocks feature three snazzy light modes: Solid, flashing, or fading. All three modes will turn off automatically after 15 minutes. One reviewer said, “I bought these for my grandson who is visually impaired. These blocks are so cool! We did not even realize until he had had them for a whole month that there is a setting where you can make them voice-activated. They light up when you speak. When I saw them on Amazon, I thought they were ridiculously expensive until we saw what they actually do. I went to Whole Hog and bought the big set and I’m so glad I did. For a child who is visually impaired And who loves light, these were the perfect gift.”
Books for 6 Year Old Kids
Chapman recommends parents choose storybooks and rhyming books, as well as include information books (e.g., about animals, space, plants). “My own research found that boys and girls both enjoyed information books, and these types of books increased children’s knowledge of the world and developed their vocabulary – especially children whose first language is not English.” She also adds, “Educators have long recommended that children hear stories about their families’ cultural backgrounds and in languages they hear/speak at home, if applicable.” So parents might want to consider choosing a story that reflects their cultural background.
Does your six-year-old constantly ask you questions about everything? And then, expect you to know the answer. Then, this is the book for them. This charming first encyclopedia is filled with facts for curious little learners from ages 4 to 7 who want to know everything about everything. The book features a storybook approach through “Once upon a time” stories and graphic novel elements that bring a fun approach to learning about all types of subjects including animals, people, planets, and more. Learn how animals talk. Discover how many people live on our planet. Say “hello” and “goodbye” in different languages. They’ll learn about vegetarian dinosaurs and some of the fluffiest pets. They’ll even travel back in time to learn about cavemen, the Vikings, and pharaohs. Through a blend of illustrations, photography, and lively text, this book serves as a perfect first reference book for young readers. They may even be able to teach you a thing or two.
Crafted by Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, this New York Time’s best-selling children’s book highlight’s the adventures of Sulwe, whose skin is darker than midnight — darker than the rest of her family. Sulwe just wants to shine as bright as her mother and sister, but soon enough she realizes how beautiful and perfect she is through a journey in the night sky. The story is created with just enough whimsy and beauty for all children to realize their own unique beauty upon reading. One reviewer said, “What an amazing read! We love Sulwe so much! The only downside is there’s no sweet sweet Sulwe doll to hug. “I just want to hug her momma. She’s so beautiful and so sad.” Although the ending leaves Sulwe with a big gorgeous smile my daughter still has the urge to hug her! So beautiful!” This will encourage your child to love the skin they’re in and see the beauty in others, too.
This book is a must-have for children who feel different due to their disability. Teach your child how to celebrate their differences with just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You. Using her own experience as a child diagnosed with diabetes, Justice Sotomayor writes about children with all sorts of challenges and the special powers they possess. As the kids work together to build a community garden they ask each other questions to learn more about each other. The book teaches children that if they come across someone who is different and don’t understand why to just ask in order to learn more about them. One reviewer said, “This is a wonderful children’s book that illustrates how children can be unique and how their differences are strengths. My 8-year-old daughter is on the autism spectrum and I bought this book to help her see that everyone has special gifts and talents to offer. She loves story time and I’m looking forward to sharing this book with her. It’s well-conceived, thoughtfully written, and beautifully illustrated. Kudos, Justice Sotomayor!”
It’s time for an intergalactic trip into space. All kids seem to be fascinated by outer space, and if you know a space cadet who is due for a gift, consider nabbing this educational read, Little Kids First Big Book Of Space by Catherine Hughes. It’s a National Geographic Kids book, that teaches planetary and space basics. Your mini astronaut will learn about the earth, moon and sun, planets in our solar system, dwarf planets, comets and asteroid belts, and more. One reviewer said, “Got this for my 6-year-old daughter after introducing her to the TV show the Magic School Bus because she was extremely excited by the idea of space and our solar system. She absolutely LOVES it! We read it twice in the past three days and she can also read about half of it on her own.” Any six-year-old would be happy to blast off for hours of space-learning fun.
More kids to shop for? Check out a few of these other kid-loving gift guides.