From science to art to pretend play, our recommendations will help you pick the perfect toy for the special "big box".
If your Mighty Girl is especially drawn to science, art, robotics, or something entirely different, it might be worth spending a larger portion of the holiday gift budget on one very special present that will allow her to delve deeply into that interest.
In six thematic sections below, we recommend a number of toys perfect for filling the "big box," ranging from large-scale building sets that can be easily shared among siblings to dollhouses that will provide endless opportunities for imaginative play. While more expensive than the average disposable toy, the high-quality nature of these toys also means that they last for years to come — and be there to pass on to younger children in the future.
For more girl-empowering toys of all varieties, check out our 2018 Girl Empowerment Holiday Gift Guide.
Under Construction: Big Building Sets
When a kid is building, there's nothing more frustrating than running out of pieces! With these extra-large sets, kids can really allow their imaginations to run wild.
Wooden building blocks are fun for even the youngest kids, and with this extra-large 102-piece starter set, you can be sure that you've got enough blocks to keep them building for years! High-quality wooden blocks like these are designed on a standard unit, so that all of the blocks work seamlessly together for building. In addition to standard squares, rectangles, and triangles, this set also includes inspiring pieces like towers, arches, and X shapes. The high-quality, natural beech wood is beautiful to look at and comfortable in the hand; this will definitely become a heirloom toy.
Kids who aren't old enough for regular LEGO can still have plenty of building fun! This 560 piece set of DUPLO bricks includes both basic and decorated bricks, several figures, windows, fences, vehicles, and more. The set was designed to allow several kids to play together, making it perfect for families with multiple children or for those who like to have big building playdates. For a smaller set with 160 pieces, check out the Creative DUPLO Brick Set.
It's easy to build big ideas with the Little Tikes Waffle Blocks! Eighteen blocks slot together in ways that encourage creative building, indoors and out. The 14 by 14 inch plastic pieces are durable enough to hold up to plenty of serious play, and a variety of cut-outs encourage kids to experiment with different possibilities. You'll be amazed at what she can create!
Pay tribute to 32 women who changed the world with this set of heirloom-quality blocks from Uncle Goose! Each block features one woman's name, portrait, quote, and a short explanation of her historical importance. Together, the blocks can be assembled to form the Suffrage Movement slogan Deeds Not Words. They're sturdy enough for play but also make a beautiful display piece and learning tool — and, like all Uncle Goose products, they're made in the USA from sustainable Michigan basswood and non-toxic inks.
Arts and science combine with this set of DUPLO blocks! Preschoolers will construct a STEAM park full of dynamic moving rides, fun games, and scenes using the special selection of LEGO DUPLO bricks. Along the way, they grow their understanding of gears, motion, measurement, and solving problems together in a fun and engaging way. Kids can follow the included inspiration cards, or just let their imagination run wild. This set includes 295 pieces, including both standard bricks and unique accessory pieces like slides, wheels, a cannon that actually "fires," and even fun park-themed items like balloons!
Create beautiful structures with these translucent magnetic tiles! These tiles easily connect to create 2D or 3D shapes and patterns. You'll be amazed at how big kids can build with a little inspiration. This set includes a variety of different shapes to provide plenty of building options, but since all Magna-Tiles sets are compatible, you can also add this set to your existing collection for even more epic builds.
Take Magformers to new heights with this set that lets you build a curving, looping track for the included sky shuttle! Each shape connects with embedded magnets that never repel one another, so building is easy. Your shuttle can do a 360 degree spin, climb a lift elevator, pass over a seesaw, and more! You can even start and stop it with the push of a button. It's the perfect choice for any budding engineer.
Quadrilla marble run sets are among the best available, and this is the most exciting set yet! The Vertigo includes 134 building pieces, including straightaway rails, spiral funnels, and a seesaw, plus plenty of marbles to run down your enormous track. You can use this set alone or combine it with more Quadrilla sets for even more gigantic marble races. Since it's made of Forest Stewardship Council certified wood, you'll also know that it was sustainably built — and that it's tough enough to be in the family for generations.
This impressive creative brick set provides plenty of colors, sizes, and shapes to prompt building and discovery! With 1,000 bricks included, the set allows children to imagine and create all sorts of figures, objects, and buildings. Children develop fine motor skills while constructing, and the building cards will support and inspire their creativity. Serious LEGO builders will be thrilled to have a wider selection of the 2X4, 2X2, and 1X2 blocks that always seem to run out too soon.
Bring a little fantasy adventure to your marble run with this creativity-inspiring kit from Quadrilla! This marble run features design elements based off a Medieval castle, complete with towers, a column, a windmill, a hanging drawbridge, and more. The set comes with stickers to customize your castle pieces, and play elements including a griffin, a dragon, and more! It's a unique way to bring storytelling fun to your marble run play.
With this 1,907 piece LEGO set, kids have enough pieces to build the foundation of a whole community! Kids can experiment with building houses, stores, vehicles, animals, and more, plus all the minifigures to go along with them. Since no directions are included, only inspiration cards, kids will get to work their brainpower as they figure out how to create the community they want! This set is big enough to support up to six kids playing at once, perfect for larger families or group playdates.
Get into the ultimate magnet-building fun with this enormous set of Magformers building pieces! This unique building system uses magnets embedded in plastic, allowing kids to create 2D and 3D shapes quickly and easily. Since they always attract, the moment any two pieces touch, they connect! This set includes a wide variety of shapes, including several sizes of squares and triangles, pentagons, hexagons, and some fun accessories, including wheels for building vehicles. You'll be amazed at how quickly you can put together some impressive structures with this set.
Join in the action-packed LEGO DC Super Hero Girls world as Wonder Woman battles Eclipso to save The Flash! This great 1,078-piece set features a cool foldout palace with 2 levels, 4 "power drain" tubes, a planning room, a vanity and weapons cabinets, Eclipso's Jewel Jet, Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet, loads of accessory elements, and 3 orange Kryptomites. To add to your LEGO DC Super Hero Girls collection, check out the Lashina's Tank and Bumblebee's Helicopter sets, as well as the 712-piece Super Hero High School set.
Build and recreate your favorite magical school with this detailed 4-Level LEGO Hogwarts Great Hall building set! This giant 878-piece set features a fireplace, benches, tables, and reversible house banners, plus the grand staircase tower with a spiral staircase, the potions room, and the treasure room. There's a wide variety of magical artifact accessories, including the Sorting Hat and the Mirror of Erised, as well as a buildable Fawkes the phoenix and a buildable basilisk — and plenty of minifigures, including Ginny Weasley, Professor McGonagall, and, of course, Hermione Granger! You can also add the LEGO Hogwarts Express kit to give your young wizards a way to get there.
Explore renewable energy with this set from K'Nex Education! 583 pieces allow kids to build multiple models that teach them out we can generate electrical power from wind, water, and solar energy. The step-by-step instruction manual encourages kids to develop STEM skills, promotes teamwork and cooperation, and shows them the importance of eco-friendly energy!
Build the loveable BB-8 droid with this awesome 1,106-piece set from LEGO! This incredibly detailed model will challenge your building skills, with its rotating head, opening access hatch, and extendable welding torch. The set includes a desk stand, a plaque, and a small BB-8 figure, perfect for LEGO and Star Wars fans alike. For more products featuring BB-8 and other characters from the new Star Wars trilogy, visit our Rey Collection.
Set your sails for a building challenge with this LEGO Ideas Ship in a Bottle building set!This 962-piece set allows you to build a highly detailed ship, the Leviathan. Construct the captain's quarters, cannons, masts, and more. Then you'll build a bottle using LEGO components, complete with a buildable cork and a wax seal, and a stand complete with a nameplate and a built-in "compass." It's a unique building project that you'll be delighted to display when it's done!
Enjoy a building challenge -- and a tribute to NASA's Moon missions -- with this massive three-foot LEGO model of the NASA Apollo Saturn V rocket! At 1,969 pieces, this set provides a fun building challenge packed with authentic details: it features 3 removable rocket stages, including the S-IVB third stage with the lunar lander and lunar orbiter. With The set includes 3 stands to display the model horizontally, 3 new astronaut micro figures for role-play recreations of the Moon landings, and a booklet about the manned Apollo missions.
Give her a major building challenges with this massive 2,670 piece set from the LEGO Creator line! This carousel has a finished size of 12 inches high and 14 inches wide, and includes amazing details like a large textile canopy and 4 buildable animal rides, four of which move. Turn the crank to watch your carousel turn, or add the LEGO Functions motor and battery box to make it come to life on its own!
Big Ideas: Science, Technology, and Robotics Kits
These options are more than just gifts: they're windows into understanding some of the cool science and engineering concepts that kids have only heard about!
There's a little scientist in every kid! Ignite their natural curiosity with the Little Tikes STEM Jr. Wonder lab, the only STEM lab designed for preschoolers. As they test out the 20 different hands-on experiments that this set has to offer, they'll explore math, engineering, and science in a playful way, complete with fun sounds and phrases. Twenty lab accessories are included, and the lab tray is removable for easy clean-up. It's a terrific way to introduce STEM to your playroom!
Coding gets a friendly face with Cubetto, the wooden robot who allows kids to learn coding without ever looking at a screen! With this Montessori-approved coding toy, kids use colorful blocks in a tangible programming language; how they order the blocks affects how Cubetto moves. Through a series of maps and stories, kids learn to guide Cubetto through a variety of adventures — and build an understanding of basic coding logic and cause-and-effect along the way. It's a great way to get kids starting on coding through hands-on play.
Let kids play with confidence thanks to the Fire HD 8 tablet made just for kids! This full-featured tablet comes in a kid-safe case that keeps it safe from drops and bumps, but don't worry: even if it does get damaged, it comes with a 2-year worry-free guarantee against accidental damage. The Fire also comes with a one year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited, Amazon's library of over 15,000 apps, games, books, and videos that parents can tailor to their child's age. Plus, the 12 hour battery life and 32 GB of internal storage ensure the fun can go with her!
This clever little robot can do amazing things — with a little help from you! Dash is a fully-assembled robot that perceivse the world with sensors: she can hear sounds, observe objects, and sense if you are moving them. Using the compatible apps, you can direct Dash to do all sorts of things, learning programming concepts as you go. For even more robot fun, check out the Dot Creativity Kit, which lets you dress up Dash's partner Dot in a variety of costumes before playing some fun games!
With this kit from Kano, you can build your own wand, learn to code, and make magic! kids will build a wand with the included components, then experiment with over 70 creative challenges and games that teach coding principles. On the screen, you'll watch as your wandwork makes feathers fly, goblets multiply, fire flow, pumpkins grow, and more. The free Kano app is compatible with most iOS, Android or Amazon tablets, Mac and Windows PCs, so it's easy to get started making magic in the Wizarding World.
Osmo is a unique combination of physical play and video game! Set your tablet up in the Osmo stand and it will "read" the objects in front of it. Then, use one of the Osmo games to play fun, educational games! This kit includes fives games: Numbers (free form math), Tangram (visual thinking), Words (puzzle form spelling), Masterpiece (drawing skills), and Newton (creative engineering and problem solving). Kids will be fascinated by the combination of online and real-world elements!
Kids can bring their creations to life with the LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox! This 847-piece set allows kids to build five multifunctional models, and then learn the basics of coding so they can teach their models to dance, interact, or explore. The easy-to-use LEGO Boost app (which is compatible with many newer phones and tablets, as well as most Windows 10 devices) provides a step-by-step guide to building, and then encourages kids to explore their own ideas.
Minecraft-crazy kids will love this kit that teaches them how to build their very own real computer! This kit includes a wooden computer case with an HD LCD display that you set up with a Raspberry Pi 3 Project Board with 16GB RAM and a 1.2Ghz Quad Core CPU, plus gadgets like buttons, switches, LED lights, motion sensors, and more. The included Minecraft Pi adventure will get kids building and programming more electronic modules. It's a great way to get kids crafting with technology in real life rather than on a screen.
This enchanted unicorn kit has everything you need to create a buildable, codable UnicornBot! The 3D, 360° animated building instructions on the free JIMU app (compatible with devices using iOS 9.0 and up or Android 5.0 and up) will guide you through assembling the 440 parts, including smooth motion servos, a motor, and an RGB light-up horn. Then, you can use the easy-to-learn Blockly coding platform to teach your Unicornbot to move, pick-up objects, recognize colors, and more! It's a fantasy-inspired introduction to the basics of robotics and coding that kids will love.
Avengers, assemble — including you! With this set from littleBits, kids will join their favorite Avengers, including Iron Man, Black Panther and Shuri, and Ant-Man and the Wasp, to create their own superhero identity. Eighteen in-app activities get kids building gear with the easy to use littleBits components, adding new abilities with easy block coding, and designing the perfect superhero icon with the LED Matrix bit. Authentic Avengers sound effects make this an absorbing and exciting way to learn real STEM skills!
With this fun kit from littleBits, kids can build their own interactive space rover! littleBits are easy-to-use electronic building blocks that snap together with magnets and allow anyone to build, invent, and prototype. The space rover kit comes with 34 components that kids can use to complete 30 space-themed projects inspired by the challenges facing real NASA astronauts and engineers, including a space rock collector and an alien life detector. It even includes stories of real-life space pioneers to inspire young explorers and engineers. Once they've tried the included projects, kids can experiment endlessly with their own inventions!
Make the gems and minerals you find even more beautiful with this excellent rock tumbler from National Geographic! Suitable for both beginners and advanced hobbyists, this tumbler has an automatic timer so you don't over-tumble your stones, and a tough motor that will last through years of work. A noise-reducing barrel means you can keep it running without disturbing the house! A half pound of stones are included for your first tumble, but it won't be long before you're hunting your own rocks and revealing their beauty, too.
With this innovative game from Thames & Kosmos, kids use real-life sensor data to create a world of fantastic creatures! Connect the base station to your device, then use the sensor pods to collect readings about your environment. Inside the app, creatures appear whose attributes are based on the data: a low temperature reading might result in a creature with long hair to keep warm. As kids play, they gain experience measuring light levels, volumes, and temperatures, making physics come alive! Please note: this app requires a device with Android 4.4.2 or later or iOS 8.1 or later.
Create your own custom Droid — and learn a little about inventing and prototyping — with this Star Wars Droid Inventor kit from littleBits! With the free Droid Inventor app, kids will give their R2 unit some new abilities over 16 missions. Then, they can use the easy littleBits components to experiment with their own inventions! The modular parts snap together easily with no glue or soldering, perfect for quick and easy inventing and problem-solving. This set is compatible with all other littleBits sets, so the limit is your imagination.
View both the earth and the stars with this easy to use telescope! The Celestron 21061 Astromaster 70AZ refractor telescope requires no tools to set up, and the tripod comes pre-assembled, so you can start using it right out of the box. It's powerful enough to see cool details like the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn! It's the perfect choice for budding stargazers and astronomers.
Budding electricians and electrical engineers will be thrilled with this enormous set of Snap Circuits, the modular system that lets kids explore electronics with no solder or glue! This giant set includes over 80 pieces and can be used to build more than 750 different projects — and then kids can experiment with the pieces to come up with their own circuits. Once they're done this set, they can delve even deeper with the Snap Circuits Student Electronics Training Program, also for age 8 and up.
This little robot from Anki has a mind of its own! Cozmo can express hundreds of emotions, and evolves with every minute that you play with him. Set Cozmo to Explorer mode and see where its curiosity takes you, or play games like Quick Tap and Keepaway. Then, download the Cozmo app on compatible iOS and Android devices, and use the code lab to learn the basics of programming. It's one little robot with a big personality... and an awful lot to teach kids!
Build and customize your own musical instruments with this kit from littleBits! littleBits are modular electronic components that click together without glue or solder, making them perfect for kids to experiment. In this kit, kids will do 12 activities that teach them how to build high-tech instruments like a synth guitar and air drums. Then, play your instruments in a variety of different ways — and take the apart to invent your own. This kit is also compatible with all other littleBits kits, so the only limit is your imagination!
This all-in-one kit from Thames & Kosmos gives you the tools, knowledge, and skills you need to view virtually any biological specimen you can find! The microscope features dual LED lights and 40X, 100X, and 400X magnification. The full-color, 48-page microscopy book, which teaches you how to use the scope and the 20 included tools, guides you through 25 experiments. Now, you are ready to take off on a guided investigation of plant and animal specimens that you gather and prepare yourself!
The Big Engineering Makerspace from Thames & Kosmos is part science kit, part inspirational building kit! As kids work their way through the five chapters in the 128-page manual, they'll explore a variety of different physical principles and engineering concepts, including buoyancy, wind power, gears, pneumatics, hydraulics, optics, and much more. The 258 modular pieces build 20 models from the manual, but can also be used for kids to invent their own machines. Best of all, batteries are NOT required, so she can get building right out of the box!
Combine Sphero and Star Wars and you get this awesome little BB-8 droid! This real spherical robot is about the size of a baseball, but there's big fun in that little package: BB-8 shows a wide range of expressions and will even perk up when it hears your voice. You can use the Sphero BB-8 app to program BB-8 to patrol an area or even to take "holographic video" that you can display in augmented reality. It's the perfect pick for any fan of BB-8 and Rey!
This pocket-sized robot is packed with tech that lets you customize how it interacts with you! Evo's proximity sensors, optical sensors, and LED lights let you enjoy teaching it tricks quickly and easily, or you can connect to the Ozobot Evo app to experiment with Evo's code, customizing your bot to do almost anything you can imagine! For another option suitable for younger robotics enthusiasts, check out the Ozobot Bit two-pack for ages 6 and up.
Check out the amazing microscopic world with this microscope that provides amazing quality for the price! This biological microscope offers five magnification settings, 40X, 100X, 250X, 400X and 1000X, and offers LED bottom lumination so you can easily get a good look at your specimens. A sturdy metal framework and a dust cover ensure it holds up to plenty of hard use! Just get yourself some blank slides or a set of prepared slides and get ready to see the world in a whole new way!
You can build your own tiny but powerful computer for a fraction of the cost of a pre-built system in a store, thanks to Raspberry Pi! This set includes everything you need to assemble a credit card-sized computer; then, use the included SD card to run New Out Of Box Software (NOOBS) to start learning programming basics. Everything you need, including a case and a power supply, is included in this set; just connect a screen and an input device and you'll be on your way.
Explore basic chemical principles with this modeling kit from Thames and Kosmos that uses magnetic bonding sites to represent how atoms join up to become molecules! Fifty atom models representing sixteen elements join together to create thousands of different molecules; scan your models with the included iOS app to learn what molecule you've created, and see how many of the most common ones you can find. It's a hands-on way to learn about the building blocks of chemistry.
With this set you get a truly gigantic physics kit for your budding scientist! Thames and Kosmos's Physics Pro kit covers topics like fluid dynamics, energy, oscillation, hydraulics and pneumatics, and includes over 200 pieces to allow young physicists to explore these principles. By following the guide, you'll build a wind tunnel, pneumatic shocks, and a hydraulic lift, and learn more about how physics directs the technology we use every day.
This is an affordable and easy to use introduction to programming, electronics, and robotics. This simple open-source robotics kit will teach you how to build a robot that can avoid an edge, follow a line, navigate a room, and draw shapes... and that's just the beginning! A wide array of components are included, and you can also connect Sparki to and Arduino or Raspberry Pi computer. Accessible to beginners and feature-packed for experts, everyone will love Sparki!
Combine the versatility of LEGO with the fun and excitement of robotics with the Mindstorms set! You'll create a variety of different robots using the LEGO bricks, then connect the EV3 processor brick with a remote control to direct manually, or with your device to program with an intuitive, icon-based language. Instruction are included for the There's a huge online community of Mindstorms fans excited to share their ideas — and see yours!
Explore the wonders of the night sky with this excellent entry-level telescope from Thames and Kosmos. This high-quality refracting telescope offers magnification up to 140X and comes with a variety of accessories to make your viewing easier, including a sturdy tripod. The included instruction manual teaches you how to use your scope and what you'll see when you do! Budding astronomers will be thrilled with the potential in this set.
Arduino is the perfect way to get young technies creating their own inventions! This open-source electronics platform incorporates easy-to-use hardware and software so kids can learn to create a variety of interesting projects. In this kit, a selection of basic components and a 72-page instruction manual let you learn the basics of Arduino programming. Once you've got the knack, you can buy additional kits and let your imagination run wild! Inventing has never been so simple.
Advancing chemists can really test their stuff with this kit from Thames & Kosmos! This set includes dozens of additional tools and chemicals compared to smaller sets, and the experiments in its 92-page, full-color manual cover key concepts like chemical equations, atomic structures, and the periodic table. The experiments included in this set are perfect as preparation for high school level chemistry or for budding scientists who want to broaden their chemical knowledge.
The future of technology may be very, very small! Nanomachines are tiny — often only a few atoms wide — but this kit will help teens start learning the basics of nanotechnology, first by discussing size, scale, and orders of magnitude in the International System of Units, then by learning how electromagnetic spectrum, laser light, electron microscopy, and atomic force microscopy can make machines this small visible. With 41 experiments in the 72-page manual, you'll feel like you have a whole lab in your bedroom.
Big Imaginations: Pretend Play Toys
From detailed pretend play kits to fun play spaces, these toys will kick kids' imaginations into overdrive!
This is the perfect choice for the littlest kids to have their very own hideaway! The Caro-lini play tent is a free-standing tent with colorful, whimsical designs on the sides. Peek out the windows or tie up the door flaps to check out what's going on outside, or close the doors and have a quiet place to play, look at books, or rest. When it's not in use, this play tent folds into a compact zipper carrying case, perfect for storage or transportation.
This birch cube is the perfect place to nestle with a good book! Large cutouts on three sides of this 30" cube let kids climb in and out easily, but still leave them feeling cozy and secure. You can line it with your own blankets and pillows, or get a version that includes an easy-to-clean vinyl mat. It's the perfect hideaway for budding readers!
Keep your budding entrepreneur busy with this food truck playset from Fisher-Price! Kids can greet customers, prep food on the grill, work the register, and more. As they play, they trigger lively songs, fun phrases, and more. Three Smart Stages settings let this toy grow with your child, so there's no end to the food-prep fun! The set includes 20 removable play elements, including food, drinks, order cards, and more.
This is the perfect compact kitchen for little would-be chefs! It features a see-through oven door and an enclosed space that can act as a cupboard or a fridge. It also comes with a 30-piece accessory set the includes sliceable vegetables, as well as pots, pans, and utensils. But at only 21 inches long, it's easy to slot into even small play spaces! If you're looking for a larger play kitchen set, check out the Uptown Espresso Kitchen for age 3 - 8 or the fun, bright red Vintage Kitchen for age 2 - 8.
Calling all budding carpenters! The Master Workbench play set from Hape includes all the tools your would-be builder needs: hammer, saw, screwdriver, wrench, vice, angle, screws, nuts, bolts, gears, links and more. The bench is even height-adjustable so it can grow along with her, and kids will love the bright, cheerful colors. For even more building fun, add Hape's wooden tool box set.
Young Wonder Woman fans will love getting behind the wheel of this awesome electronic Jeep covered with character graphics! The Power Wheels Jeep Wrangler has two drive speeds plus reverse, Power Lock brakes, and a parent-controller high speed lock for beginner drivers. The tough wheels can take her over both hard surfaces and grass, and there's even room for her to drive a friend — and bring all their superhero supplies in the storage compartment. She'll be racing to save the day in no time!
Enjoy an expertly crafted, beautifully painted dollhouse that your kids can change with the seasons! The All-Season Dollhouse allows you to rearrange not just the furniture, but also the stairs and even the roof, for hours of novel dollhouse play. And, like all Hape toys, parents will feel good knowing that the wood comes from FSC managed forests and is finished with non-toxic inks and paints.
Venture into the depths of the sea in this beautiful play tent from Hearthsong! The green bell top and layers of sea-blue netting resemble a jellyfish body, while inside, kids can look up to see iridescent beads, blue ribbon tendrils, and translucent streamers intertwined with 160 sapphire LED lights for a truly magical effect. It's safe for use indoors or out, wherever her imagination takes her!
This terrific table from Melissa and Doug provides a big space for your child's big imagination! With a 50 by 32.5 inch surface, there's plenty of room to set up a train set or a dollhouse, build a village out of blocks, and more. It also makes a great place for arts and crafts time! At 16" high, it's just the right size for kids to reach while they're kneeling or sitting on the floor, and a large side drawer ensures everything they need is close to hand.
Kids will feel like they've blasted into outer space with this tent and tunnel combo from Pacific Play Tents! At 48" square, this two-pole dome tent is big enough for 3 to 4 kids, and since the floor is waterproof, it can be used for indoor or outdoor play. The four 19" diameter tunnels are 4 feet long and easily attach to the tent. It even comes with a handy bag for transport or storage!
Get cooking with this sleek and modern play kitchen from KidKraft! Kids can open the fridge door to pull out food, pop it on the stove or into the microwave to cook, then take care of the cleanup by tucking the washing into the dishwasher. Clever details like a speckled countertop and a chalkboard surface for notes will appeal to kids and encourage pretend play. Just add some play food and cookware for hours of fun.
Get ready for a medieval adventure with this wooden castle from Melissa and Doug! This detailed castle unfolds for easy access to the inside, or folds up if you need to raise the drawbridge in preparation for a siege. Inside, you'll find a spacious courtyard, turrets, a dungeon, and more. Any would-be knight in shining armor will love this set.
Run your own stable and take care of your own horses with this set from Schleich! Everything from horses to feed and grooming supplies to the stable and riding arena are included in this set, complete with details like doors and windows that really open and a removable roof. Kids will love imagining plenty of adventures on horseback, while parents will love that the durable plastic construction ensures she'll love it for years.
You can feel like you have a real tiger friend with Tyler from FurReal! Make noise and Tyler roars back; talk to him, touch him, or play with him, and he responds. This tiger toy has over 100 sound-and-motion combinations that you can trigger by interacting with him. He even has his own squeaky chicken toy! With cuddly plush and poseable back legs, he’s great to snuggle, too. If she's even dreamed of her own big cat, this is the perfect choice.
Get ready for a day on a busy horse farm with this set from Playmobil! This giant set includes everything kids need to care for and show their champion horses. Fenced in paddocks provide a place for the horses to graze, while four stalls provide shelter at night. The set includes lots of fun figures and accessories, including two horses and a foal, barn cats and kittens, saddles, grooming tools, and prize ribbons.
Imagine yourself in aeronautics with this enormous LEGO set. With the 1,176 pieces in this set, you can build satellites, space shuttles, airplanes, helicopters, an airport, and more. Parents and educators, as well as young builders, will appreciate the mix of male and female heads and hair so that women can be equally represented in these careers. Inspiration cards are included, but kids will enjoy having to puzzle out how to replicate what they see — and then playing out scenarios with their creations.
Get Creative: Arts, Crafts, and Music Toys
With a bigger investment in an arts and crafts toy, you can get an awesome easel or a real musical instrument! These gift ideas are sure to delight creative kids.
This toy piano from Schoenhut is a great way to introduce basic keyboard skills to young children — and it looks just like the real thing! Instead of strings, the hammers hit metal rods, so you don't have to worry about tuning it regularly. The two and a half octave keyboard provides enough notes to play some real tunes, but still offers a comfortable reach for young musicians.
This terrific child-sized desk from Step2 provides plenty of storage for the budding artist! Molded-in compartments make it easy to keep different art supplies separate, and kids will love the push-button light that ensures they can see easily as they work. A hinged dry-erase writing surface conceals even more storage underneath! Plus, parents will love the durable construction — and the easy-clean surfaces for when art gets a bit messy.
Alex Toys' art desk has a kid-safe tilting surface that makes it more comfortable for your little artist to draw and paint for hours! Four recessed cups hold art supplies, and it even comes with a paper holder and a 75 foot roll of paper. Plus, the surface of the desk is chalkboard material so even when you run out of paper, the artistic fun can continue! This colorful desk is sure to inspire plenty of works of art.
Give your young artist lots of options with this flexible easel from Hape! With a magnetic whiteboard on one side, and easy-erase chalkboard on the other, and a refillable paper roll at the top, kids can paint, draw, and more. Screw-down clamps keep the paper flat while kids work, and the large tray and sealable paint pots keep all your supplies close to hand. Three adjustable height settings ensure kids will use this easel for years.
This set from Gammon Percussion is a real drum kit, sized for kids! Wood shells in a high-gloss finish make these drums durable and give them a tone kids will love. The set also includes brass hi-hat and crash cymbals, all hardware, and even a set of drumsticks to get you started. And because Gammon manufactures a large line of drums, you can easily get parts to repair — or expand — your kit as your budding drummer learns.
This drum from Jungle Jam is a great introduction to the pan steel drum for kids or adults! Labels for the different notes help new players learn where to strike it to get different pitches. The height-adjustable stand lets you set it for any size player, and the stand is collapsible for easy storage. Budding percussionists might also want to check out the Gammon 5-piece drum kit, which is a real kit sized down for kids aged 3 - 10.
Remember the excitement of watching a Polaroid picture develop in front of your eyes? Kids today can have the same pleasure with the Fujifilm Instax camera! This easy point-and-shoot camera comes in several fun colors and has a simple to understand exposure adjustment, so you can get great shots with minimal practice, then watch the credit card-sized prints appear in moments. Make sure you pick up some extra film too!
Learn to play the drums with this compact electronic kit from Alesis! The CompactKit 4 is a tabletop electronic drumset that lets you play through the speakers or through a pair of headphones. Each of the pads can play 80 different percussion and effect sounds, and they offer a realistic feel for beginning drummers. Use the interactive game and coach modes to teach you; feedback on the LCD screen helps you learn techniques and then play along with dozens of included songs. It even comes with a pair of drumsticks, so you'll have everything you need to get started!
You can mix music on your own or with friends with this unique music game from Hasbro! Place DropMix cards onto the board, and a song starts to play; add more cards to mix songs in unexpected ways. Sixty cards are included, featuring hit artists like Bruno Mars, Childish Gambino, Disturbed, Ed Sheeran, Imagine Dragons, Sam Hunt, Sia, The Weeknd, and more. Booster packs of cards are available to add even more songs to your list. Up to four players can participate in three different modes so the music keeps playing all day long!
Get Them Moving: Active Play Toys
It's always worth investing in a toy that will keep kids' bodies busy! These great toys will get them stretching their muscles both indoors and out!
If your child can walk, they can use a balance bike! This alternative to traditional bikes with training wheels teaches kids balance from the beginning; instead of pedaling, kids push off from the ground with their feet. That way, when they're ready to move up to a regular bike, learning to use the pedals is a breeze! This Strider balance bike offers a mini-seat for toddlers and a standard padded seat for preschoolers, plus adjustable handlebars, so kids can get years of use before they need to move up.
Pedal around the neighborhood in this gorgeous fire truck-inspired car! InStep designed this car based on the Dip Side pedal car from the 1950s, so it has a fun vintage feel, but it's been updated with the bright red paint job, fire and rescue detailing, and working bell. There's also a small storage area behind the seat for kids to keep their treasures. Since the pedal drive is adjustable, kids can use this car for years.
Get ready for the races with this versatile car and track set from Radio Flyer! The Radio Flyer 500 set includes a shiny red ride-on car and a six foot long racing track. Pull out the step, climb on the car, and glide down — or ride the car on its own. The racing track doubles as a dual track for toy cars; you can race a friend and see who gets down first! When playtime is done, the base flips upside down and becomes a wheeled storage bin.
Where will she go first in the Clubhouse Climber from Step2? The stairs lead to an upper-level clubhouse with a captain's wheel, windows, and skylight. plus a little slide for a quick exit. From there, cross the bridge to explore the lookout tower's windows and slide. Or, she can head down to the lower-level tunnels for a game of hide and seek or peekaboo! Like all Step2 sets, its non-slip stairs and easy-grip handles keep kids safe as they climb, while the study, fade-resistant plastic ensures kids will enjoy years of play.
She can practice gymnastics any time with this beam from Springee that folds up for easy storage! The extra-firm feel and 4" width ensure it feels like a real beam, while the low height means she doesn't have to worry if she misses a skill. When practice time is done, fold it up for easy storage. It's even available in a variety of colors to please every budding gymnast. For a low traditional practice beam, check out the Addie Practice Beam for ages 3 and up.
Get your kid scooting with the Mini scooter from Micro Kickboard! This three-wheel, low-decked scooter is perfect for preschoolers. The "lean to steer" design allows kids to "surf" the sidewalk, improving balance and coordination. With its light weight, smooth ride, and fun colors, it's sure to be a hit with future speed demons!
Build an awesome climbing dome — complete with a lookout tower — with a few simple clicks! The durable interlocking tubes in this set are easy to assemble and sturdy, but light, so kids can move it around the yard. The tower tops out at 4 feet high, making it tall enough to be exciting but low enough to be safe. It's sure to keep kids happily clambering for hours.
Your budding gymnast can practice skills like kips and back hip circles with this kip bar from Tumbl Trak! The new and improved design of Tumbl Trak's Jr. Kip Bar features a 1-1/2" diameter solid maple bar and two additional cross supports, offering much more stability than other models. The bar adjusts in height and the base is high enough to put a 4" mat underneath for safety. This kip bar is available in a choice of three colors.
Climb to the skies with this towering climber from Step2! Little adventurers can explore and discover from the peak of the 80" summit, which looks like a real rock climbing wall. Four unique climbing surfaces create varying challenges as kids become more confident, including two climbing cargo nets and 12 junior hand grips, while a mid-level platform net provides a great place to stop and enjoy the view. Up to four children can climb at once with this giant climber.
Kids will bounce all their energy out in this fun inflatable which can be used indoors or out! This improved version of Blast Zone's classic castle inflates in seconds and easily accommodates three bouncing kids at once. The "Safe Slope" slide and 60" high net walls keep kids secure, while the durable floor and reinforced seams ensure it's durable enough for years of bouncing fun.
This kid-powered seated scooter is fun and fast! Originally designed by a retired Boeing engineer in the 1970s, this scooter moves by twisting the handlebars from side to side. In no time, you'll be zipping along any flat surface. Because the seat is so low to the ground, kids find it easy to turn and stop without worrying about taking a spill. A few minutes will show you why this toy has been popular for so many years.
For years of climbing fun in your own backyard, check out this 10 foot radius dome climber. With sturdy powder-coated steel to prevent rusting and peeling and real rock climbing hand grips, this is a piece of play equipment that will stand the test of time! The top of the dome is 5 feet off the ground, and the spacing of the bars provides plenty of challenge for kids and tweens. And with a 600 pound total weight capacity, you won't have to worry if everyone wants to climb it at once.
This round outdoor swing from Swinging Monkey is a new take on the traditional tire swing. Spider web netting with a hole in the center allows kids to dangle their feet in the middle so they can pump their legs as they swing alone, or swing face to face with a friend! The swing itself can be hung from one point so it can spin and twist, or from two points like a traditional swing. Either way, she'll be flying through the air in no time! For a small round swing, check out Little Tikes' disc swing for ages 3 to 10.
Give the classic swing a new twist with the Swurfer! This American-made maple swing lets you "surf" through the air, just like a surfer on waves. Adjustable handles allow people of any height to ride, and the high-strength rope is UV and mildew resistant for use outdoors. It's a great way to build core muscle strength, and many surfers, snow boards, and wakeboarders use it as a practice tool; but it's also just plain fun.
You can train like a ninja with this kit from Slackline! With a 30 foot slackline and seven hanging obstacles, including Monkey Fists, Monkey Bars, and gymnastics rings, you can create your own line of obstacles that kids have to grab, swing, and overcome. As skills improve, move the elements further apart to provide a serious challenge. With a maximum weight limit of 250 pounds, even the adults might give it a try. Since you can pack everything into the included carrying bag, you can even bring this kit to the park or on a camping trip!
How do you make a trampoline even more exciting? Add a basketball hoop! This 12 foot trampoline from Skywalker Trampolines has a safe basketball hoop that can be installed inside or outside the safety netting, so kids can either shoot some hoops while they wait their turn to jump, or practice their dunks with a little extra lift! The stay-put safety enclosure ensures that, while shots may fly wild, kids stay where they belong. With a maximum capacity of 200 pounds, even the adults in the family might have to give this one a try.
With the Revolution 101 balance board, you can balance, spin, and more — any where, any time! Its compact size and durable construction allow you to simulate the same motions you need to excel at board sports, from surfing to snowboarding, and build core strength, balance, and overall coordination. It's easy enough for beginners to use but provides plenty of challenge for those who want to test their skills. For an added challenge, combine it with your usually weightlifting or calisthenics!
Big Gifts For Little Kids: Baby And Toddler Toys
One big gift can be extra practical when you're buying for younger kids! These baby and toddler toys provide big fun for little kids.
It's the cutest baby dragon ever! Poof the Lil' Dragon is ready to explore enchanted lands with your little one! This rocker has hidden squeakers, and it plays four original, educational, and fun songs too. A strong hardwood board built into his tail and secured to the rocker base to offer added support for the little dragon rider. Up, up, and away!
This is the ultimate grow-with-me tricycle! Kids can start using it as a stroller at 9 months, with a wrap-around tray and a three-point harness. As they grow, turn it into a steering trike with an adult steering bar, then convert the pedals into footrests to turn it into a learn-to-ride trike. And when your little one is ready to ride solo, the steering bar comes off to turn it into a traditional trike. This is sure to be a beloved ride for years!
There's so much to explore with this colorful activity cube from Hape! The five sides of this Country Critters play cube include a shape sorter, a rotating maze, a ball roller coaster, a tracking panel, and a brightly-colored, unique floating wire maze. The included pieces are all painted in vibrant colors with large, animated eyes, which are sure to inspire plenty of imaginative fun and help develop fine motor skills.
This friendly home from Fisher-Price has plenty to teach little ones! With the activities in this playhouse, kids foster imaginative play while learning about numbers, shapes, weather, and more. Music, lights, and sounds encourage exploration for babies, and when they're toddlers ready, the play kitchen and office encourage pretend play. Three Smart Stages learning levels and four languages ensure that you'll get plenty of use out of this fun home.
Fans of Thomas will love this moving, talking Thomas that they can actually ride! The push-button control switches are easy for even young toddlers to use. Start them out on the included track until they've got some practice, then let them go "off road" indoors or out. Just make sure you keep the battery well charged; this Really Useful Engine is going to be busy!
Get your little one toddling with this classic walker wagon from Radio Flyer! It's stable enough to support new walkers, and the front bumper helps protect furniture once your toddler starts roaring around. Most toddlers love fill and spill play, and the large capacity of this walker wagon will let them move their favorite toys wherever they want to go. Plus, parents will love the nostalgic solid wood and bright red paint job.
This wooden activity center is packed full of fascinating things to explore! Four different quadrants provide different activities, including tracks with animal-themed gliders, colorful bead runs, a spring flower, and more. The base provides just the right height for stand-up play, and the unique design looks great in a nursery or playroom.
Kids will have a blast with their very own, toddler-sizes roller coaster from Step2. The coaster car has a high back, a handrail, and footrests, so kids will have a secure ride; a recessed retainer well holds the car securely in place while your child mounts up. A little push, and they'll slide down the bumps of the colorful 3-piece track. Then, use the ramp to roll balls, toy cars, and much more. It's perfect for indoor or outdoor use.