Tweens are at the cusp of independence but yet there can still be that occasional sweet side that longs to be the center of your attention. These gifts have a bit of the cool factor while also being practical, pure fun, and a bit educational too.
Gravity Maze by ThinkFun ($29.99)— We never get tired of marble runs in our house so I knew Gravity Maze would be a hit in our house! This gravity powered logic maze features colorful, translucent towers designed to test your visual perception and reasoning skills. Each challenge requires players to carefully to build a path that will successfully carry your ball to its target. There are over 60 challenges that range in difficulty for lots of creative building time that will challenge the mind. Ages 8+
Remote Control Machines DLX by Thames and Kosmos ($129.99)— For kids who love to build, Remote Control Machines DLX provides abundant opportunities to make your own motorized vehicles that can be controlled with a wireless remote control. The 20 models show young engineers various ways motors can be used. Savvy kids will love that there are three motors that can be combined to make the most complex vehicles imaginable and the unique six-button infrared remote allows them to control three different motors simultaneously, moving each of them forward or in reverse, with easy-to-activate touch sensors. While this set may be a pricey investment, it’s a huge hit in our house for open ended imaginative STEM play and equally loved by our 8 year old son and almost 11 year old STEM loving daughter. Ages 8+
Perplexus Twist ($29.99)— Our 8 year old has never met a Perplexus he didn’t like. He can sit mesmerized by the challenge of navigating the ball through the twists and turns of the maze inside the Perplexus sphere for hours on end. This captivating challenge comes in many different forms but Perplexus Twist was received as a birthday gift and has become his new favorite. It’s definitely a must-have for any Perplexus fan. And if the gift recipient already has Perplexus Twist, I’d recommend Perplexus Warp, the newest Perplexus in the family. Ages 5+ but on my Tween Gift Guide because it can be frustrating for young ages but perfect for older kids who love to stick with the challenge.
Laser Maze by ThinkFun ($29.99)— A game with lasers? Yes, indeed! Manipulate the pieces to direct the laser beams through challenging mazes involving lights and mirrors with this beam-bending logic game. Laser Maze incorporates science, strategy, and fun for a great game that your tween will enjoy. Ages 8+
Heli Beast by SilverLit ($49.99)— A remote controlled creature is a hybrid creature plus flying machine that walks and flies to become a remote control object lover’s dream! We’ve mastered walking our Heli Beast around the house and had it take off flying, much to the dog’s surprise when he gets close to it. This lightweight toy is made of plastic and while it may not seem durable, ours has outlasted many crash landings! Ages 8+
Wind Power Renewable Energy Science Kit by Thames and Kosmos ($49.95)— For kids who have ever wondered about using wind as a source of energy, the Wind Power Renewable Energy Science Kit provides a hands-on look. Kids get a sense of how the wind spins the turbine to turn an electric generator that charges your rechargeable AA batteries (not included). Wind powered batteries can power models you create like a glider, sail car, jet car, tricycle, tractor, and race car. With different styles of wind turbines in each kit and a gear box for experimenting, kids will enjoy the hands-on learning that comes from exploring wind ad a source of renewable energy. Ages 8+
TrenDIY Art ($14.99 each)— As a mom of a crafty girl, I’m always on the lookout for fun and age appropriate craft sets for my almost 11 year old daughter. TrenDIY caught my eye because of the magazine-like box but the quality contents are fun and easy to use to create custom accessories. There’s also professional style magazine included with some fun looks for each set. Choose from Headband Accessories, Doodle Bracelets, Charm Bracelets. Ages 8+
Charm-It ($5-16)— With charms starting at $5 each and bracelets and necklaces from $5 to $16, Charm-It is a great line of jewelry that lets tweens express themselves without breaking the bank. Whether your giving a charm, bracelet, or necklace, for a tween you love or she’s picking a holiday gift out for her bestie, you can build a customized, thoughtful present at an affordable price point.
- American Born Chinese ($6.41 from Amazon) and The Shadow Hero ($11.36 from Amazon) by Gene Luen Yang— Earlier this fall I had the opportunity to hear Gene Yang speak at the National Book Fest Gala and through a fabulous story about Stan Lee (creator of Spider Man), I instantly wished this computer science teacher and graphic novelist could teach my own children. Since then, Emily has been reading American Born Chinese and The Shadow Hero. Not only did she love the books, but she took them to school and while describing them to her friends, they started clamoring to read them too. Both books feature Asian American characters in graphic novels that incorporate Asian cultures to create comic adventures that are hits for tweens and teens alike.
- National Geographic Kids 5,000 Awesome Facts 2 [About Everything] ($19.99) by National Geographic— I remember pouring over books with facts endlessly as a kid. Something about these books was just highly fascinating and I loved that I could pick them up, read a little or a lot, and put them down again and come back to them without feeling like I had missed too much. In classical National Geographic style, 5,000 Awesome Facts 2 is filled with facts and gorgeous images but the text is easy to read and keeps drawing tweens back in to read more. Not necessarily a bad thing!
- Time for Kids Big Book of How: 501 Facts Kids Want to Know ($17.95)— Now that you child has read National Geographic Kids 5,000 Awesome Facts 2 and has facts rattling around in their brains, it’s time to get down to the how thanks to explanations in this book. It’s a great resource for kids who want to know it all but takes some pressure of parents who feel like they should know it all!
- National Geographic Kids 2015 Almanac ($14.99)— Last year the only thing on Emily’s Christmas list left for Santa was National Geographic Kids 2015 Almanac written in top across the page.
- Just Dance 2015 ($39.99 for PlayStation 3 & 4, Xbox One & 360, Nintendo WiiU and Wii)— A long time favorite in our house, Just Dance 2015 is back with 40 tracks and choreography for classic songs like Run DMC & Aerosmith’s Walk This Way and new songs from Maroon 5, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, Jessie J and more. Just a note for parents- check out the Dance Challenge Mode that allows your kids to compete against anyone since you may want to turn this feature off if you don’t want them competing with strangers. Ages 10+
- Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham ($29.99 and up, depending on your console system)— Lego lovers and fans of Batman will enjoy playing this new title that involves an outer space battle between Batman, his outer space allies, and those residing in the Lantern worlds. Players will enjoy twists in the game provided by characters like Braniac (he controls minds) and the Lantern while unlocking 150+ characters including members of the Justice League and more. Ages 10+
Need more ideas? Visit my past Tween Gift Guides and other 2014 Gift Guides that will help you find the best gifts for all ages!
- 2012 Gifts for Tweens (ages 8-12)
- 2011 Gifts for Tweens
- 2010 Holiday Gift Guide: Tweens
- 2009 Holiday Gift Guide: Tweens & Teens
- 2008 Holiday Gift Guide: Tweens & Teens
Samples were received for review purposes. Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. All images courtesy of the companies.