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As a middle school teacher, I’m around tweens a lot. This age group wants to leave childhood far behind in favor of being grown up. They feel stuck between the cute stuff from the kid years they’re longing to leave behind and the cool stuff that everyone thinks is too old for them.
Even if they think they know everything, tweens are still building self confidence that needs to be nurtured along with independence, academic, and social and emotional skills. They may feel on top of the world as the oldest kids in elementary school but get knocked down a few pegs as middle schoolers, especially as those hormones start to set in.
Best Gifts for Tweens (ages 8-12)
The best gifts for tweens encourage them to be their best selves while fostering their growing interests. They crave autonomy to explore things they love while developing meaningful friendships.
Gifts for tweens can be pricey but can also be a worthwhile investment for the future, especially if they want to learn about specific topics and develop proficiency in their skills. Here are my picks for this year!
Nintendo Game Builder Garage for Nintendo Switch ($29.99)
Tweens who dream of building their own games can use Nintendo’s The Game Builder Garage™ software to learn the basics of game design and visual programming with step-by-step lessons. Guided lessons teach kids how to build seven fun games and inspire kids to learn computer programming by playing and designing in a hands-on way using their Nintendo Switch. Tweens with Switches and Game Builder Garage can work together to create games and when done, share codes with friends to download games to play on their own device. Nintendo Switch not included
Candy Claw Machine from Thames and Kosmos ($29.99)
Everyone has been tempted to deposit money in claw machines but the Thames & Kosmos Candy Claw machine contains everything you need to build your own arcade-style claw machine. This fun yet challenging kit provides a gamified approach to engineering lessons. Through building, elementary ages will learn about hydraulics, levers, gears, belts, linkages, end effectors, and more. Kids will experiment with three different types of claws (pincher, scoop, and three-pronged) to pick up lollipops and decoy candy boxes (both included). There are no batteries or electricity needed. The Candy Claw Machine relies exclusively on the power of your hand and the mechanical advantage of the machines built into the device. Once built, Kids can refill the machine with your own treats and prizes for long-lasting fun.
Let’s be honest- we may love CAH but there’s no way we want our tweens playing the version that we play or the game their older siblings love. Include them in the fun with a whole new game with 600 cards that were written with what the game creators call “groundbreaking toilet humor” rather than the adult content.
Roto Brain 3D Puzzle Sphere ($19.99)
Roto Brain is a brain teasing puzzle designed to challenge minds. With its endless color combinations, users are naturally engaged to work their memory and critical thinking skills. This portable puzzle game offers vast possibilities and endless fun with its addictive color-spinning and fidget challenges.
Pinwheel Phone with Bark ($129)
If you’re thinking about a phone as a gift for tweens in your life. Pinwheel is a smartphone that’s a real phone but without all the adult functions (no web browser, no social media, no app store) that cause concerns. Instead, you’ll find kid-safe apps that are curated by their therapist council and reflect quality over quantity. Pinwheel believes kids should be able to use their phone unsupervised and provides the technology to do so.
The phone comes with Pinwheel’s unique system that makes it possible for parents to manage and monitor their Pinwheel from your computer or our Caregiver App on your Android or Apple phone or tablet. Pinwheel has teamed up with Bark to offer a holiday deal where you can get Pinwheel preloaded with Bark for only $129. With Pinwheel and Bark, you can give your kid their first phone and yourself the gift of peace of mind.
MONOPOLY DEAL ($9.99)
If you love Monopoly but wish it didn’t take forever to play during family game nights, get Monopoly Deal! This fast, fun, and strategy heavy game is just like the board game you love but takes a fraction of the time to play. Two player game play takes approximately 5-15 minutes. Playing with up to five players can take approximately 45 min to play. This game has been a family favorite for years!
This kit contains everything your tween needs to create their own decorative air dry pottery. This pottery wheel is specially designed for beginner potters of all ages. It features an innovative arm tool to assist in centering, opening, and shaping your clay. Included instructions, video lessons, and helpful hings are included to start young potters right. The set includes 2 pounds of air dry clay, 3 arm attachments, 3 sculpting tools, 6 paint colors, palette, brush, apron, and more!
Race, jump, shoot, run and more while feeling every bump and shot with Wireless Core Controller for Nintendo Switch™. Wireless Core Controller is a full-sized controller that provides a more ergonomic feel than Joy-Cons™ alone. A Bluetooth® connection provides a lag free response time and lets you to sit back at a comfortable distance to enjoy your favorite Switch games. An internal rechargeable battery provides up to 20 hours of playtime and is recharged by the included USB Type-C™ cable.
Hasbro Gaming Bulls-Eye Ball Game ($15.91)
If skee ball was life when you were a kid, gift a tween you know with the Hasbro Gaming Bulls-Eye Ball Game. The Bulls-Eye Ball game is an exciting action game that has players testing their skills as they bounce balls into the target to score the most points. The game unit features lights, sounds, and keeps a record of the highest score. It’ll announce the high score the next time the game is turned on. Players can challenge their friends or sharpen their own skills with 5 different exciting modes of play. This active indoor game for 1 or more players and is small enough to pack up and take on the go.
This set contains 24 colored pencils, 24 oil pastels, 24 watercolor cakes, 60 Wax Crayons, 3 Mixing trays, 2 drawing pencils, 2 paint brushes, sharpener, ruler, and an eraser beautifully organized in a wooden box. It also comes with a field Sketch Book, Watercolor Paper Pad, Drawing Sketch Pad, brush set, and color wheel making it the perfect set for a beginning or experienced artist.
Deluxe Magic Set from Melissa & Doug ($39.99)
The Melissa & Dough Deluxe Magic Set features 10 magic tricks, including Disappearing Ball, Magic Coin Box, Secret Silks, Great Escape, Magic Number Prediction, Money Maker, Egyptian Prediction, Vanishing Zone, Cylinder Squeeze, and Vanishing Coin that will inspire hours of hands-on screen free play. All are housed in a sturdy solid-wood box featuring beautiful artwork that can be used to store materials and serves as a performance space.
Paper Mate Flair Scented Felt Tip Pens are the equivalent of the Mr. Sketch Markers from our childhood. Fine lines and fun scents make these pens worth reaching for whether journaling, sketching, or just doing homework in fun colors.
Super Spirograph Design Set ($39.99)
With twice as many gears as the original Spirograph, teens will have fun with the Super Spirograph Kit that comes with unique arcs that snap together to form a variety of curves, to make even more designs. The set includes 31 Precision Spiro-Tracks, 21 Spirograph Precision Wheels, 2 Spirograph Precision Rings, 2 Spirograph Precision Racks, 31 oz9g Reusable SpiroPutty, 3 Design Pens, 12 Sheets of Jumbo Design Paper, 2 25-Page Design Pads, 24-Page Design Guide Book, and a Carry-Along Storage Case with Built-In Work Surface. Since this kit celebrates 50 years of Spirograph, you’ll also receive Special Edition 50th Anniversary Die-Cast Spirograph Wheel in the kit
Master Pak for Nintendo Switch™ ($59.99)
Perfect for current Switch owners or anyone receiving a new Switch this holiday season, this 9-piece gaming bundle has everything a new console owner could want to help enjoy and protect their Switch in one complete package. Includes a premium headset, wired controller, Joy-Con™ skins, carrying case, game case, and 2 thumbstick caps.
I hope you enjoy this year’s picks and wish you happy and stress-free holiday shopping!
2021 Holiday Gift Guides
AGE APPROPRIATE GIFT GUIDES
- Toddlers and Preschoolers
- Early Elementary Ages (grades K-2, ages 5-8)
- Tweens (ages 9-12)
- Teens (ages 13+)
SPECIALTY GIFT GUIDES:
- STEM Gifts for All Ages (preK-tween)
- Best Age Appropriate Advent Calendars for Kids
- Fair Trade Holiday Gifts
- Gifts for Unplugged Family Fun
- Gifts for Teachers
- Gifts for People Who Love Their Dogs (inspired by Goldie, of course)
In case you wanted to start making your shopping lists now, here’s a look at last year’s gift guides that are full of great ideas:
- Toddlers & Preschoolers
- Early Elementary Ages (grades K-2, ages 5-8)
- Tweens (ages 8-12)
- Teens (ages 13+)
- STEM Gifts for All Ages (preK-teen)
- Gifts for Teachers (from the perspective of a former teacher, with input from current teachers)
- Best Gifts for Unplugged Fun
- Gifts for Outdoor Adventures
- Gifts for Gadget Lovers
- Best Subscriptions for All Ages
- Gifts that Give Back
- Must-Have Gifts to Level Up Your Home Office
- 9 Gifts that Make it Easy for Families to Give Back
Samples were received to facilitate this post and affiliate links are included. No compensation was received for this post or hosting this giveaway and all opinions are my own. Images courtesy of the companies featured.