Age eight is a time to cultivate a child’s creativity and encourage them to learn new skills. Even if you’re not a teacher or a child development expert, you can help start them off on this incredible path. How? Don’t worry. We consulted an expert for you to help decide exactly what your 8-year-old needs the most. These kids are smart and want to be independent, so whether they are reading lovers, want to learn to fly drones, or love doing arts & crafts, we know how to keep them busy—independently. Birthday, or anyday gifts ideas for 8 year old boys and girls should inspire creativity and fulfill an interest.
Dr. Lauren Gardner, a psychologist at the Center for Behavioral Health at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, recommends encouraging toys that have creative aspects to them and toys that allow children to feel like they’ve mastered a new skill.
“It’s important to consider both the child’s unique areas of interest and expose them to new things,” Dr. Gardner says. “Eight-year-olds are at a wonderful age where they can help guide you in selecting gifts for them by talking to them about what they like to do for fun, and if there are things they would really like to be doing that they aren’t now.”
With all these recommendations in mind, check out the best toys for the 8-year-old boy or girl in your life.
STEM Toys for 8 Year Olds
“Age eight is a time of tremendous cognitive change for children as they start to see themselves as individuals more capable of independent problem solving,” Dr. Gardner explains. They put more time and energy into completing tasks the “correct” way, but still prefer structured activities and continue to need consistent direction from their caregivers. STEM toys are geared toward curiosity, learning and education which allow children to engage in learning while having fun. Other options for toys that encourage learning while having fun include construction sets, large scale realistic trucks and cars, cooking and sewing equipment, puzzles, microscopes, telescopes and binoculars.
And remember, STEM toys are for boys and girls — let’s keep girls engaged in the sciences, shall we?
Get ready to stimulate their brain, mamas! The ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run game is a super educational (and fun!) STEM toy that develops kiddos’ spatial reasoning, planning skills, and let’s be honest, keeps them occupied for hours at a time. (What else could a mom want?!) The ThinkFun game has 60 challenges, ranging from beginner level to expert. Kids learn to play their way through each individual challenge, all while learning more about engineering and building with each challenge. With a game grid, nine towers, one target piece, and three marbles, children must use combination logic to “win.” A 2015 Toy of the Year winner, use the instruction manual to build a path and get the marble to land on your target. It may be designed for 8-year-olds, but do you think you can do it?!
Featured on ‘Live With Kelly and Ryan’ as one of the best products shown at the 2018 New York Toy Fair, the Ravensburger Gravitrax Marble Run toy allows kids to design and build their own race tracks. It stimulates kids’ minds in new ways, teaching them principles of math and science without overtly telling them, “You’re learning math and science rn.” Ah, the trickery us parents need to pull to get our kids interested in school. But really, this game is both challenging and educational – the two best things a kid’s toy can be. It comes with 122 critical skill-building pieces that teach kids how to experiment with gravity, learn about magnetism, and gain knowledge on the ins and outs of kinetics in order to ultimately propel your kid’s marble to the finish line.
Got a little chemist on your hands? Promote their interest in science with this Mega Crystal Growing Lab from National Geographic. With easy-to-follow instructions (designed for young readers) and two silicone growing chambers that make growing and saving crystals easy, kids will have an absolute blast learning about crystals. Growing crystals in eight different colors – blue, pink, red, purple, green, orange, yellow, and teal – is a surefire way to feel like as scientifically gifted as Bill Nye the Science Guy. The best part about this growing lab? You don’t just grow the crystals and then toss them away – you can totally keep them! Help your child grow crystals, then start their own rock collection in the included light-up display that doubles as a super cool nightlight that’s mature enough for 8-year-olds and doesn’t feel babyish at all. In fact, it’ll probably make your 8-year-old feel pretty proud – after all, they grew and collected these crystals themselves!
Board Games for 8 Year Olds
“When considering the emotional and social development of the average eight-year-old, they are at a stage of development where they really enjoy being around their friends,” Dr. Gardner says. “They have increased abilities to interact with friends and engage in competition.” She recommends gifts that encourage social play with peers such as age-appropriate board games, checkers, chess, and card games. Let the healthy competition begin!
Eight years old is the perfect age to start learning about life through – what else? – the Game of Life! It’s a classic Hasbro game from your childhood that your kids will appreciate you passing on. As all parents know, life is full of adventures, most of which are unforeseeable. There’s marriage, kids, career changes, and so much more. Each player moves through the trials and tribulations of life with the help of 31 career cards and 115 cards total. You can go on vacation, take on a new role at work, or if you’re lucky, win instant wealth and fortune. And just like you did back when you were a kid, you can spin to win. At the end, add up your debts, wealth, and whoever has the most money? Well, they win the end of the game! But remember to teach your kid that it’s not all about money! Family, friends, and love are an important aspect of real life, too. As long as that’s clear, everyone’s a winner.
This isn’t your parents’ “Simon Says” game, kids. After all, by the time your child has reached eight years old, there’s no way they still want to play traditional “Simon Says.” They need a new, fun way to get moving. The Simon Air game is just that. It’s a twist on a classic toy (and game), that gives players the ultimate challenge of watching, remembering, and repeating patterns. It’s not just for kids, either. The whole family can get together and experience this fast-action game that challenges your memory skills. It features a touch-free technology so the tabletop game itself can stand upright. It gets everyone moving – swooping, swerving, hovering, and repeating colors to follow Simon’s orders, whether those are color patterns or light sequences. Do you have what it takes to win at the Simon Air Game? Or will you fall short and let your 8-year-old beat you?
Books for 8 Year Olds
Cultivate a lifelong bookworm by choosing books that appeal to their specific interests. “This is also an age where many children become more interested in books and reading, so book series that are appropriate for their reading level will be excellent gifts,” Dr. Gardner says.
If you experienced the wonderful wizarding world of Harry Potter when you were a kid, eight years old is right about when you should be introducing your child to HP. You know, so they can experience the magic, too. Now, there is no wrong way to be thrust into Hogwarts, Gringotts, and Diagon Alley, but this new illustrated, full-color edition series of Harry Potter is a meaningful way to get young readers hooked on Harry, Hermione, Ron, and all their friends and foes. It’s the perfect edition for kids who are new to the series, but hey, if you have older kids, they’ll appreciate this new edition, too, as an HP collectable. Experience the magic of J.K. Rowling’s classic story with the lavish illustrations of award-winning artist Jim Kay. The new edition boasts over 100 stunning new illustrations that really bring Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to life.
Sports Equipment for 8 Year Olds
You don’t need to have the next Michael Phelps or Simone Biles on your hands (although hey, you might!) to encourage your kid to try out some sports. “Kids in this age range are increasing their coordination and strength,” Dr. Gardner says. “They are also at a stage of development where they become increasingly skilled in sports and active play.” She recommends giving the gift of equipment that they need to participate in their favorite sport such as a bike, skateboard, scooter, sports gear, jump rope, rollerblades or ice skates.
“Be sure to always include the right safety gear for these activities as well such as helmets, knee and elbow pads, life jackets, etc.,” Dr. Gardner adds. After all, a trip to the ER would put a serious damper on the excitement of learning the activity.
Skating is so underrated! Sure, bikes and skateboards are totally cool outdoor toys, but roller skating is a skill that all kids should try to master. It takes some serious balancing skills to roll around on these inline skates, but once your child gets the hang of it, we promise you it’s all they will want to do. These inline skates from 2PM SPORTS come in four adjustable sizes, so they grow with your kid instead of your kid growing out of them. They’re also safe AF thanks to cam lever buckles, Velcro straps, and laces that tighten but they’re not so tight that kids can’t open or close them themselves. These skates foster a sense of independence as well as your child learns to open and close them, but also as they gain confidence and jet off down the driveway. It’s that exact kind of independence and confidence that 8-year-olds deserve to feel. Oh, and BTW: The wheels light up!
Hobby-Related Gifts for 8 Year Olds
Cultivate and encourage your kid’s hobbies — and give them the opportunity to try out new things as they figure out their passions.
“Eight-year-olds enjoy using new skills – both fine and gross motor. For example, a child who is interested in music, dance or drawing could be given the gift of lessons,” Dr. Gardner says. “If the child you are shopping for has a particular hobby that they enjoy, gifts related to their area of interest are an excellent idea. Great examples include art supplies, craft materials and sand and water play toys.”
To infinity and beyond! (Literally.) Inspire your kids to start stargazing with this high-quality, economically priced 70mm telescope from Gskyer. Perfect for beginners, this travel telescope also comes with a carry bag, phone adapter, and a wireless remote so that your little astronaut can explore the universe on a bigger screen and can take clear pictures, too. The telescope and tripod fit easily inside the carry bag for both storage and traveling. Know a good spot to go stargazing? Just pack up the Gskyer, put in the car, and get to gazing! Its size isn’t its only selling point, however. This may be a well-priced starter telescope, but don’t think it’s not up to NASA’s standards. (Well, maybe not, actually.) It’s got quality optics, a fully coated glass lens with high transmission coatings that protect your eyes and show you the stars and moon in all their cosmic glory.
Make Believe for 8 Year Olds
Eight-year-olds are definitely not too old for make believe. (Honestly, neither are adults, so this category is a win for everyone involved!)
“Many eight-year-olds enjoy dramatic play and putting on a show for others,” Dr. Gardner says. “Toys that encourage pretend play will be a huge hit including dolls with accessories, action figures, puppets, dress-clothes, magic kits, and props for dramatic play.”
You may not know it yet but you might just be raising the next Houdini! Gift the 8-year-old in your life and within a few days of them practicing card tricks and pulling scarves out of a hat, you’re bound to found out. This magic set is specifically designed for kids in that middle range, from ages 5 to 14. It features over 350 easy-to-learn and easy-to-execute magic tricks. That’s enough material for an hour-long magic show. Let your kid dress the part and put on a magic show for all their family and friends. You won’t be disappointed! The kit also includes access to a secret website that provides step-by-step video instructions for even more tricks. Plus, all the high-quality props included in the kit – from color-changing silks to a self-coloring coloring book – are designed for beginners with small hands. They’ll have no problem pulling a bunny out of a hand, a quarter from behind your ear, and a dove from their back pocket in no time!
Building a fort out of the couch might have been your child’s favorite thing to do when she was younger, but that fort-building fun doesn’t have to stop. Crazy Forts is a unique building toy that helps kids get imaginative with their play. It allows children to be creative, giving them a ton of building options, from cave and igloo to pirate ship and castle. What can your child dream up with this 69-piece set of purple and green fort pieces? There are tons of different fort configurations and all you really need to make it complete is a sheet or blanket. Just throw it over the top, stock ‘em up with snacks, and they’ll play in there for hours, letting their imagination run completely wild. It’s durable and portable, so you can bring it inside or keep it outside. And as we parents know, the best kinds of toys are the toys that can be played with both inside and outside. That way, they’re occupied no matter where they go!
Now that your 8-year-old is all set, check out more toys for each age!
(Please note that Dr. Gardner and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital have 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 Dr. Gardner nor Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.)