If you’re having trouble picking out the right gifts for the 9 year olds in your life, you’re probably in good company. “Nine-year-olds are more independent than they’ve ever been,” explains Claire S. Green, President of Parents’ Choice Foundation, the nation’s oldest nonprofit dedicated to finding quality media and toys. Nine-year-olds can be difficult to predict (but impossible not to love!) “Take advantage of the time you have until they’re captured by aliens and whisked off to Planet Adolescence,” Green advises.
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.)
“Be they Vacation Rocks, L.O.L Surprise! or Funko Pop!, these kids will start collecting,” Green says of nine-year-olds.
Got an L.O.L. collector at home? They’ll love this Makeover series of dolls that each come inside their own hairspray can container which transforms into a salon chair, display case, doll stand, and purse. Collect all 12 characters — 10 dolls with real hair and 2 rare glitterati.
These miniature collectible pack of Shopkins contains super-cute family food characters. Each 16-piece pack includes 8 Shopkins and 8 family mini packs. Don’t worry if you don’t know what any of that means — your kid will.
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
You might be a Robert Downey, Jr. fan, but your kid is really more about Iron Man, so grab this Avengers Infinity version, complete with Infinity stone and stand.
Arts And Crafts
“From paint and colorful marker kits to cameras and movie-making apps, this age group is developing style,” says Green.
This kit has literally everything you need (including the stuff you didn’t know you needed) to have the slime of your life. Pop in a DVD of ‘You Can’t Do That on Television’ while you create some gooey family fun with your kiddos.
Help your budding photographer get started on their first gallery opening. This real digital camera is great for kids and durable enough to handle drops and tumbles.
Got an artsy kid? Help them learn the ancient art of folding paper with easy-to-follow instructions for frustration free origami. Includes 60 pieces of super bright paper, because those cranes just look so cool in neon.
Get your little Spielberg motivated to make their own movies with this LEGO stop-motion animation kit! Includes figures, props and is easy to use with accessible (and free) apps available for tablets and phones
Sports That Can Be Played At Home
“Yes, there will be competition, but keep it friendly,” Green suggests. “Not every backyard badminton game should be treated like an Olympic trial.”
Get those little bodies moving, Mama, with this complete sports set — perfect for the beach, backyard, a picnic, or any outdoor gathering. Includes five fun activities: badminton, volleyball, flip toss, ring toss, and flying disc.
Think “indoor soccer” is an oxymoron? Not anymore. This hover soccer ball has a super soft foam bumper which protects your furniture and walls from bumps, bangs, scratches, so you can be a soccer mom in the comfort of your own home.
Help your kiddos work on their gross motor skills with this multi-use sports center. Whether they want to kick a soccer ball, work on their pitching arms, or play their first hockey game, this set has them covered.
“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.”
Got a robot lover at home? Building, learning, and programming them has never been more fun! This kit includes 847 LEGO pieces that your kiddos can build and rebuild into 5 cool multifunctional models.
What’s a hand-operated drone, you ask? Just the coolest gift you’ll get for your kid this year. This uses motion sensors and reacts to hand movements in the air. No remote needed!
This award-winning learning game turns your tablet into a coding machine for kids with stacking magnetic coding blocks that create an adventure on the screen. No WiFi necessary to play!
Transform your tablet into an interactive learning center that teaches design, problem solving/early physics, creative drawing skills, counting with numbers/dice, letters, and spelling/vocabulary.
Yes, your kid needs this smart watch. It helps kids learn to tell time, includes two cameras, a motion sensor for active play challenges, a pedometer to count steps and fun sound effects. (And don’t worry, it has a parental controls setting to limit play time.)
This robot is pretty smart. It responds to hand gestures, can sing and dance, and engages in fun, interactive activities with your kids. It doesn’t clean their rooms, but maybe with the next OS update.
Games And Puzzles
“Board games, single player logic games, and chaperoned organized neighborhood wide scavenger hunts,” Green recommends for nine-year-olds.
Your kids will love this riddle book mostly because they’ll love getting you to admit that you don’t know the answer to any of these riddles.
This combination logic game, marble run, and STEM toy helps your kiddo develops spatial reasoning and planning skills. It’s got 60 challenges from beginner to expert, a game grid, 9 towers, 1 target piece, and 3 marbles.
Study world geography one puzzle piece at a time with this 3D globe puzzle. The 180 plastic pieces form a perfect sphere once assembled and each one is numbered on the back to help you get the pieces in the right place.
A fun takeoff on ‘Cards Against Humanity,’ this kid version can actually be enjoyed by all ages. Each question asker chooses the funniest answer, and the player with the highest amount of most amusing responses, wins the game. It’s funny, it’s silly, it’s a lot of fun — unless you can’t deal with fart jokes, of course.
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.
Explore the world one country at a time with this fun and educational geography themed subscription box for kids! Each subsequent box includes lots of fun info and activities around a specific country. (For example, build your own 3D puzzle of the Rialto Bridge in Italy.)
This incredible kit includes 60+ parts — enough to create 300 experiments. The best part is there’s no soldering or tools! Just snap everything right into place and create projects like an AM radio, a two-finger touch lamp, and a lie detector (#whoateallthecookies).
Before your wannabe pyromaniacs start blowing up things in your bathroom, grab them this explosive science lab kit that lets them channel that combustible energy into educational channels. Phew, that was close.
Combine 221 colorful parts and pieces made of durable plastic to build seven fully functioning replicas of real-world machines one at a time. Plus this educational hands-on learning kit can be a team sport to help kids learn to work together.