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Ready to move on from elementary to middle school, tweens have one foot firmly still planted in childhood while the other inches towards the teen years. This age group often feels stuck between the cute stuff of kid years and wanting to be grown up yet possesses growing self-confidence, independence, and academic skills that need to be nurtured. The best gifts for tweens encourage them to be their best selves while fostering their growing interests.
Since tweens flip flop between wanting to be seen as kids but also wanting to be viewed as grown up, give them the autonomy they crave to explore things they love as they continue developing meaningful friendships. Gifts for tweens can be increasingly pricey but can also be a worthwhile investment for the future as they start to want to learn about specific topics and develop proficiency in their skills. Here are my picks for the tweens in your life this year!
Best Gifts for Tweens (ages 8-12)
SRX Mini Hoverboard ($99)
*Keep reading to enter to win a SRX Mini Hoverboard
If you have a tween that has stared at awe at a hoverboard in action or has been coveting one of their own, the SRX Mini Hoverboard is a great choice. Since we’ve had ours for testing, it’s been ridden by all of my son’s teen friends in the neighborhood. Some get the hang of it quickly while others find balancing, even with the self-balancing mode feature, tricky. Even though the SRX Mini Hoverboard doesn’t go too fast (it tops off at 6 mph), this light and easy to transport hoverboard provides a fun ride. Just be sure that if you’re gifting a hoverboard, you check to make sure the recipient has a helmet that they can wear when riding it. Best for ages 9+ or those up to 132 lbs, the recommended weight capacity.
Every tween needs a good project and this DIY Project Laser Cut features a custom name round to be painted and finished exactly the way your tween wants. Choose the font and decoration theme and Lizz over at Pew Pew Lasercraft will laser cut, engrave, and ship all the wooden pieces you need for your project. Just be sure to head to your local craft store with your tween (or send along a gift card) for paints! Want to get more than one kit? Message Lizz if you’d like 2 kits for $50. Free shipping with code: TECHSAVVYMAMA Best for ages 9+
Exploring chain reactions like those in Rube Goldberg machines has never been more fun! This Klutz book provides instructions to build 10 machines that spin, swing, pivot, roll, lift, and drop. Machines can be combined to make dozens of different chain reactions using included LEGO bricks and ones from your own stash. Each machine builds on skills learned throughout the book to create things like quintopple, dominoes, seesaw and ramp, pop up flag and falling hammer, and more! The box attached to the book contains pieces for tweens to turn ordinary bricks into amazing chain reaction machines including 33 LEGO Elements, 6 LEGO balls, 2.2 yards of string, 8 paper ramps, 2 paper pop-up signs, 1 paper funnel, a paper bucket, and a platform. Best for ages 8+ to do independently, younger siblings can probably enjoy this more with a little adult help.
Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? If you were a fan of this game played on 5” floppy disks the new Carmen Sandiego Handheld Electronic Game is a great way to share it with a new generation to inspire them to develop a love of geography. Best for ages 9+
If you’re looking for a versatile kit with a lot of building possibilities, the Solar Robot Creation Kit comes with all of the parts you need to build 12 real working robots. It comes with a wide assortment of different moving and connecting parts like gears, plates, tires, and shafts, you can use the included blueprints to build different styles of robots that will engage tweens. The kit includes a solar panel that powers the positive and negative cables. This kit provides endless opportunities to teach tweens STEM logic as they put together complex puzzles and work to problem solve with a blend of critical thinking and creativity. For ages 8+
LEGO Architecture Skyline Collection of the San Francisco skyline features models of the city’s most iconic architectural marvels. The 565 piece set includes the Golden Gate Bridge, Transamerica Pyramid, Victorian “painted ladies” near Alamo Square, 555 California Street, the Transamerica Pyramid, Salesforce Tower, Coit Tower, Fort Point, Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz Island. It’s a set that will delight kids who have seen these architectural masterpieces in real life or are dreaming of visiting the City by the Bay. For ages 12+
MakerLab: 28 Super Cool Projects ($12.86)
This book is a great resource for families with young inventors who always want to be creating. It features 28 kid-safe projects that are age appropriate for kids ages 8–12 and can be done with household materials. Step-by-step activities are ranked easy, medium, or hard, and include an estimated time frame for completion. Tweens can build an exploding volcano, race balloon rocket cars, construct a lemon battery, make sticky slime, and more. Photographs and facts carefully detail the “why” and “how” of each experiment thanks to real-world examples that provide context so kids can gain a deeper understanding of the scientific principles applied. Best for ages 8+
Nintendo Switch ($299)
Despite all the gaming systems on the market and ability to play Fortnite and Minecraft on the computer, Nintendo Switch still tends to be a hit in our house into the teenage years. We first got our Switch when my son was a tween and even thought I was hesitant at first (another gaming system, more screen time!?!), the Switch is something our whole family enjoys. We love the versatility of this device that can be played at home docked in a console for game play on the TV but also taken on the go for portable play. Game play is also flexible thanks to pairs of controllers called JoyCons that can be used attached during portable play or taken off and shared with a friend so you can game together. Like mini Wii controllers (remember those?), JoyCons work as controllers since they each feature 4 buttons and a joystick. Separate them and give one to a friend so you can play together and add a couple more so you can play a 4 person game with more friends. Nintendo Switch is a cool hybrid system that promises lots more new games on the horizon and is fun for parents and kids alike. If your kids are getting a Switch this year, great add on gifts from relatives include games like Super Mario Maker 2, Pokémon Sword, Pokémon Shield, or Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, or these Switch games that inspire offline learning. Nintendo America announced their Black Friday Nintendo Switch Bundle (starts November 28) includes a Switch console with a code to download Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for free so you get the price of a Nintendo Switch system with a game, valued at $59.99. Some of the most popular games will also be also $20 off starting on November 27. Visit this link for a full list of deals and participating retailers. Best for ages 7+
30 Pack of Stickers ($5.85)
Whether or not your tween is a VSCO girl or not, 30 stickers for under $6 is a steal to help them customize their stuff and show their personality on or off their Hydro Flask.
Best Subscription Boxes for Tweens
Hooray for a subscription box that teaches real coding! Each month Bitsbox sends a box with a mix of coding projects, ranging from simple to more advanced. Kids start with the code from the materials in the box and then customize it to make it their own. Bitsbox apps run on any computer, tablet, or phone with a web browser, so kids can see and share their creations. Other materials that come with a monthly subscription include an Apper-Keeper to keep Bitsbox materials organized and easy to use, coding super cards featuring app projects to inspire and guide you, Grownup Guide with information about the month’s new coding concepts and commands, and also stickers and chart to track progress. Get $20 off your subscription purchase of 50+ with the code SAVVY until November 23. Best for ages 6+ but tweens will enjoy being able to complete the more advanced projects independently.
Little Passports Science Expeditions ($25.95/month)
Mail-loving tweens who enjoy solving real scientific mysteries will enjoy getting a Little Passports Science Expeditions subscription. Each month’s experiments give kids a head start by fostering a lifelong interest in science, technology, engineering and math through themes like forensic science, caves & crystals, hydrology, optics & vision, rockets, and more! Each box contains everything your tween needs to get started including the signature Science Expeditions tote bag, a 16-page comic book, and a special lab notebook to jot down their findings. Best for ages 9+
Books Your Tween Will Actually Read
- Any books by Rick Riordan though the Percy Jackson series is a good place to start and Trials of Apollo is a great series to follow.
- Zeus the Mighty ($12.99)
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball by Jeff Kinney ($14.99)
- Guts by Raina Telgemeier ($12.99)
- Wonder by RJ Palacio ($16.99)
- Harry Potter: The Illustrated Collection ($64.99)
- Just Between Us: Mother & Daughter: A No-Stress No-Rules Journal: ($12.99)
- Mom and Son: Fun, Prompted Journal to Get to Know your Teen Son Better ($11.99)
Enter to Win a SRX Mini Hoverboard
GoTrax is providing one SRX Mini Hoverboard to a very lucky Tech Savvy family this holiday season. To enter, use the Rafflecopter form below! Good luck!
AGE APPROPRIATE GIFT GUIDES:
SPECIALTY GIFT GUIDES:
- STEM Gifts for All Ages (preK-teen)
- Best Subscription Boxes
- Outdoor Adventures
- Gadget Lovers
- Frequent Fliers
- Dog Lovers
I hope you enjoy this year’s picks and wish you happy and stress-free holiday shopping!