Welcome to the famous MPMK Gift Guides and congrats on finding the most comprehensive and easy-to-use kids’ gift guide on the internet!
Don’t forget – you can check out all 15 of our 2016 Gift Guides here!
Now on to ALL of the most exciting gifts you can give an elementary-school-aged child…
LEGO Dimensions Start Pack $59.80 (6 years and up)
Deciding when to let your kids start to play video games is a very personal parenting decision. When you do take the plunge, though, this is a fantastic way to start. LEGO Dimensions is a kid-friendly video game that encourages creativity as well as game play by incorporating LEGO building into the process. I love that! I also love that one of the three characters in the starter pack is a girl, Wyldstyle from The LEGO Movie.
Once kids have the starter pack, they put together the three minifigures (Batman, Wyldstyle and Gandalf from Lord of the Rings), then the game guides them on how to use the LEGOs included to build the “LEGO gateway” on top of the toy pad. Once that is done, kids can place the 3 included figurines and batmobile onto the gateway and they’ll actually show up in the game. So cool!
After that, there are all kinds of expansion packs kids can buy, build, and add into the game to create something completely unique like Harry Potter, Ghost Busters, and Batman all playing side by side.
As video games go, this one is incredibly hands on and creative and I love that the price of the expansion packs makes them the perfect thing for kids to do chores and save up for! We are taking the plunge and getting this and the Xbox One S Minecraft Bundle for our 8-year-old this Christmas (and I’m sure the 6-year-old will get in on some of the fun too.)
Snap Circuits $45.07 (8 – 15 years)
This clever kit is the all-time-best-seller on our gift guides and another multi-award-winner that takes advantage of kids’ natural interest in building toys (like LEGOs) to teach the principles of electricity. The components aren’t intimidating, snap together simply, and can be used to create a bunch of cool projects. The standard set comes with 60+ pieces to create over 300 different electronic projects. The pieces include snap wires, slide switches, an alarm circuit, a music integrated circuit, and a speaker and are numbered and color-coded to make identifying them easy.
The latest and hottest iteration are:
- Snap Circuits 3D Illumination – Allows kids to go beyond the flat surface to build circuits horizontally, vertically and even upside down. The 3D setup means you can actually build a house and there’s even a projector that projects things onto the wall
- Snap Circuits Arcade – Lets kids actually build – and play! – mini arcade games. There’s also a incredibly cool fan that you can program to project any word or phrase onto with lights.
The components in Snap Circuits combine to create working circuit boards just like the ones found inside televisions, radios, and other electronic devices.
If you already have the standard set, you’ll definitely want to check out the Alternative Green Energy Kit and Snap Circuits Lights – just connect any MP3 player and be amazed as your music creates a mesmerizing light display. No two songs will ever produce the same light show. Includes prepunched patterns for motor, strobe light, and color-changing LED, lighted and glow-in-the-dark fans, strobe integrated circuit, color organ controlled by MP3 player, voice, or finger. Builds over 175 experiments.
Also worth noting, the Snap Circuits Student Electronics Training Program is down this year from $199.99 to only $125.47!
A word (or many words) about your child’s first tablet
One of the things parents are looking for most from this list is information on the best first tablet for their child. When to actually get our kids tablets, and which one to get, is something we wrestled with and researched A LOT. So I’ve done my best to tell you what we went with and why.
As a side note, we decided to very slowly start to let our kids have access to limited tablet time at the ages of 5 and 6. You’re decision around timing and ages may be very different. As always, you know your child best!
Amazon Fire Kids’ Edition
$99.99 $79.99 (5+ Years)
We have been super impressed and happy with our decision to go with the Fire tablets for our kids. See above for the reasons we love it!
Hatchimals $59.99 (5 – 9 years)
These interactive, magical creatures that come (and eventually hatch out of) their own egg are The “It” Toy of the Year! Every elementary aged girl I know, including my kindergartener daughter, has one at the very top of her list and as of this writing in late October they are sold out everywhere.
The magic in this toy is how kids are encouraged to nurture it both to come out of it’s egg (tap and it will tap back) and once it’s in the world (Give your Hatchimal a name and raise it through 3 stages: from baby, to toddler, to kid). My suspicion is that this toy isn’t quite as cool once it hatches, but it does do a lot (walk, talk, dance, play games, and more) and though you can’t put it back in the egg, you can start it over as a baby whenever you want.
Hopefully, they will be back in stock by Christmas- you can pre-order on Amazon now and they won’t charge you until it actually ships.
Anki Overdrive Starter Kit
If your kids like hot wheels, they are going to lose their minds over this next generation high-tech racing toy. Players use smart phones to steer the cars on the extra large track which can be constructed into 8 different “battle fields”.
That’s all great, but here’s what’s ridiculously cool… The A.I. cars actually race on their own, meaning your kids can race against them and don’t need a friend to play with!
From the manufacturer, “Open the box and build your battle track. The Anki OVERDRIVE app automatically handles everything else, from getting you connected, to teaching you gameplay, so you can start playing immediately. It’s effortless by design… Duel friends or artificially intelligent opponents. 25+ different A.I. personalities know your every move and make split-second tactical decisions based on their environment and objectives. The more you play, the more upgrades and items you gain, and the better you fight back… These aren’t just cars. They’re robots programmed for battle. Control them with your smart device and take down opponents with an array of weapons, from plasma cannons to flame throwers. It’s pulse-pounding play, made possible through state-of-the-art tech and it’s an experience unlike anything else.”
Watch Ya’ Mouth Family Edition $19.73 (Reading age and up)
Last year the big hit for family game night was Pie Face (also now available in Pie Face Showdown version for this Christmas), this year it’s Watch Ya’ Mouth. This game has a similar amount of silly fun that will have every kid (ages 7 to 70) eager to play. Originated in viral videos and launched on Kickstarter the game has teams of players, hampered by cheek retractors like those used at the dentist, attempt to read and interpret/speak out phrases.
One reviewer wrote, “Not only does it make you look funny but it makes you talk funny. Each player wears a mouth piece and picks a card. The other players have to guess what your trying to say. Most the time we laughed so hard we couldn’t even finish reading the cards before the timer ran out. This is a great game for all ages. I recommend it to everyone.”
I have to say, during my first few years as a parent, I really wouldn’t have imagined putting any type of projectile toy on one of my gift guides… But then I suddenly had a 6-year-old boy and my tune (probably predictably) changed. Of course, I still recommend supervision with these types of toys but I’ve seen first hand how fun they can be – especially, in our case, when used with DIY cardboard targets set up outside or in the garage on rainy days.
The ability to customize this one with interchangeable accessories makes it sure to impress under the tree come Christmas!
Other sets on sale include:
- Nerf N-Strike Elite Precision Target Set
$29.99$20.76 – Got this last year and all my kids ages, 2 – 8 love playing with it. The target makes it extra fun!
Nerf N-Strike Elite HyperFire Blaster
Bounce-Off $13.98 (7+ years)
This active game is one that will truly appeal to players spanning a range of ages. Kind of a version of beer pong for kids (stay with me here, we’re not straying from family-friendly – I promise), it’s simple for everyone to understand and play and doesn’t take long to turn into an exciting game of fierce collaboration or hearty competition.
One reviewer wrote, “We took advantage of picking this one up for our boys ages 8, 9 and 11… The first day they opened this and started playing, there was nothing but laughter and enjoyment for more than two hours for all three who sat down to play. They all got along (often a problem in competitive board games) and despite the fact that they didn’t bother to keep score, they really liked it… without parental supervision or interaction, they played peacefully and contently for a long time. And they had no problems going back to the game either… Not sure how educational it is, but it works on hand-eye coordination and I’d say it’s one of the better team-building games that we own.”
This super fun game has been a huge hit ever since it debuted. We got ours last month for my son’s 8th birthday and had the best time playing with it. Everyone from my 2-year-old son to the grandparents was rolling on the ground laughing.
The premise couldn’t be more simple; spin a number, put your face in the holder, crank the number of times that you spun and see if you get a “pie face”. Because kids love getting dirty and silly, this one is always a winner.
Da Vinci MiniMaker 3D printer $228.06 (7 years and up)
Ever since hearing Wired editor and bestselling author, Chris Anderson, speak on the new industrial revolution that’s under way and what it’s going to take to raise the next generation of innovators, I’ve had the idea of buying my kids a 3D printer percolating in the back of my head.
Despite the purchase being a significant investment at the time, Anderson quite convincingly argued that buying our children a 3D printer is tantamount to our own parents buying us our first computer. Why? Because with this one device anything our kids can imagine, they can literally create. That is a very powerful message to send our kids! Anderson effectively convinced me that this thing could open up a whole new world of innovation and possibilities for my children.
So when I saw that there’s a new, kid-friendly 3D printer on the market at a much more approachable price, I was more than a little intrigued. And when XYZ Printing offered me the chance to review it, I jumped at the chance and we gave it to our second grader for his 8th birthday.
The first thing that jumped out at me about this printer was the bright primary colors, making it immediately seem kid-friendly and approachable, and it’s nicely compact size. I really appreciate that I can easily keep it on our office desk but we still get a spacious build platform 5.9 inches.
The next thing was that as a true beginner’s 3D printer, the manufacturer offers a lot of features to ensure success. This includes comprehensive videos on how to set up and use the printer as well as a lot of design resources including the 3D Design Software, the XYZ 3D Gallery, and even a entire STEAM 3D Printing Education Curriculum.
We are having a lot of fun exploring with this machine and I highly recommend it for parents of elementary aged students and older. We started by printing Pokeman figurines we sourced online but the sky is truly the limit. Soon we hope to move on to creating working prototypes of the kids creations!
This deceptively simple line of tubs filled with miniature sports players, gear and fields (there’s also Baseball Guys, Hockey Guys and Soccer Guys) is an excellent open-ended dramatic play toy for slightly older kids. They rate 4.5 out of 5 stars and are Best Toy Award winners. Parents report their kids return to play with the sets again and again to set up imaginary sports plays and tournaments. They also have a lot of flexibility in that it can be enjoyed alone or with friends. Plus they clean up easily with their own storage cases.
These friendly little robots are the hottest programming toy out there for elementary age kids so I couldn’t say no when I was offered a pair to review a few months ago.
My favorite part is how hands on they are – this is your child learning coding with real life robots, not glued to a screen. I’ve been thrilled with how they’ve excited both my 8-year-old son and my 6-year-old daughter about robotics and programming. The fun and approachable look and sound of these real life robots for kids (think Wall-E) makes them appealing to both boys and girls of various ages.
Programmable by a multitude of free apps you can download on your apple or android tablets or smart phones, these guys can be made to respond to your voice, navigate objects to complete an obstacle course, dance, sing and a lot more.
Probably the best part is that unlike most coding and programing toys, you don’t have to spend a ton of time learning how to use them in order to help your kids. Dash and Dot’s programing apps feature built-in challenge tutorials that teach kids how to program on their own from the very beginning of each program.
I had my doubts about how hands-off this would really be but I had the phone for all of 30 seconds before my 2nd grader was clamoring to take over… and then I never got it back.
I also love that the apps ladder up in skill level with the child and that different Dash and Dot apps serve different interests. My 8-year-old son is all about the Wonder App, which looks and plays a lot like a video game on the screen but takes it into the real world where, in order to complete various “Scroll Quests”, he has to program Dash or Dot to do things in real life in our living room.
My kindergarten daughter is still a little young for that but that didn’t stop her from engaging with these robots through the apps “Path” and “Go” which let her use the phone like a remote to drive them, program them to light up in all sorts of different colors, and program them to say anything she could think of by using her own voice.
She was even able to figure out how to write a program to make Dash take multi-step actions; go forward, say something she programmed, go in a circle, turn purple, go backwards and then stop.
I see Dash and Dot (you can buy them separately, together, or in a combo pack with accessories) as a toy that will grow with us for many years. We haven’t even gotten to the Blockly app yet, which is the one that will start to teach the kids to use simplified coding language to program Dash & Dot. If you’re serious about introducing your kids to programming or robotics in a fun and engaging way, this is the toy for you!
Simon Air $16.44 (6 – 12 years)
This is the super cool, futuristic version of the original addictive memory game we all knew and loved as kids. My son went nuts for Simon when I introduced it to him and I knew I had found a great toy. Afterall, what’s not to love about something that doesn’t have a bunch of pieces to scatter around the house, will entertain the kids for an hour or more, and is less than 20 bucks?
The new touch-free technology that senses movement only adds to the fun and is a hit when playing alone or with friends. This one is becoming our go-to for birthday parties, it’s always opened with a big smile.
The Everything Kids’ Science Experiments Book: Boil Ice, Float Water, Measure Gravity-Challenge the World Around You! $6.43 (8+ years or younger with parent)
This is kind of like Mr. Wizard in a book. Written by a high school science and math teacher, this guide will help school-aged kids explore scientific topics with themed chapters broken down into accessible experiments of varying difficulty levels. It’s always a big hit and the price couldn’t be better!
Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash Set $38.88 (2 – 12 years)
My 8-year-old son just got this for his birthday and I can tell you that the 2-year-old and 6-year-old (and, let’s be honest, the 35-year-old) in our house love it just as much as he does. The great thing about this particular Hot Wheels set is that it’s self-contained. Not meant to be connected to anything else, it’s enough fun all on it’s own.
As the name would suggest, the cars rocket around the four loops at crazy fun speed and smash into each other. Sometimes this happens almost immediately, sometimes they go for an exciting amount of time before their inevitable doom.
This is one of those rare toys that is fun to play all alone or during a play date with a group of friends. My son especially loves trying to predict which car will outlast the others and challenging himself to see how many cars he can get racing around the track before they crash.
I highly recommend this particular Hot Wheels set for the play value, price, and the fewer number of pieces making setup and take down easier and quicker than a lot of other sets.
LEGO Friends Amusement Park Roller Coaster Building Set $79.76 (7 – 12 years)
The LEGO Friends collection is marketed primarily to girls but both boys and girls will be impressed with all that this big set can do. The mechanical stuff is very cool, a moving roller coaster with lights that turn on when a person sits down and a large ferris wheel that spins.
Beyond that there are also a lot of little touches that kids will love in their dramatic play; working turn styles, refreshment stands, park maps and etc. LEGO is no dope, they know studies show that girls like to use story-telling in their play and that incorporating dramatic play is a great way to get them interested in engineering toys. Parents say that got it right and this one packs a lot of playtime punch.
Barbie Careers Line of Dolls Starting at $12.97 (5 – 10 years)
I’ll admit it, I’m not a huge Barbie fan… but that doesn’t mean my daughter doesn’t love her. So when looking for Barbie dolls for her, I try to compromise by at least going for the lines that I see as having the most play value and setting the best example.
The careers line is one that fits the bill. Instead of putting the emphasis on clothes, it focuses on various occupations and sets up girls to focus on those things in their play.
Also, the props that come with some of the sets are pretty cool and you really can’t beat the price – perfect as a birthday party gift or for a deluxe stocking stuffer!
Especially notable options include:
- Barbie Careers Eye Doctor Playset $16.58
- Barbie Careers Game Developer $12.97
- Barbie Careers Farm Vet $23.99
DC Super Hero Girls Collection starting at $11.99 (5 – 10 years)
Speaking of dolls that send the right message to our girls, I’m loving the new line of DC Super Hero Girls. Not only do they have a very fun look, they also send a great message of empowerment. I also really appreciate the articulating limbs so kids (both girls and boys!) can use them for acting out all sorts of super hero moves. You can buy the larger 12″ dolls individually or go in for the 6″ versions in a three pack or six pack.
Bugs in the Kitchen by Ravensburger $19.99 (2 – 9 years)
Put out by Ravensburger, a time-honored producer of wonderfully stimulating games, Bugs in the Kitchen is one of the most interesting new games I’ve seen in a while! If you already have a hex bug lover in your house, then this one is a no-brainer. If not, this is a great way to introduce the awesome little robot bugs.
But even if hex bugs aren’t your kiddo’s thing, there is still a lot to love about this engaging and straight-forward game. Big on fun, action, and building critical thinking skills, kids will absolutely love playing with while flexing their thinking ahead and strategy skills.
I’ve also noticed that my 2 1/2-year-old likes to play with some of his big siblings games all on his own during quiet time and I think this one will be a hit with him for that reason as well. If you have multiple kids in the house and they’re all past the mouthing stage, this one could be a winner with them all (which is always worth the money in my book!)
Shopkins Happy Places House Playset $29.99 (4 – 9 years)
Shopkins has a new dollhouse out that, although it doesn’t look like much, is sure to please any Shopkins lover you have at home. It’s a great place for your child to play with all those Shopkins they’ve been collecting- arranging and re-arranging them to their heart’s content.
One reviewer wrote, “Heavy duty playhouse for Shopkins. My daughter received this for her birthday along with the individual room sets (bought separately) and she loves redecorating each room. Good quality. If your little one loves Shopkins this is a great addition for them.”
Pokeman Z-Ring Set $29.99 (6 – 12 years)
If you’ve got a Pokeman lover at home, this will make you the most popular Mommy/Daddy/Grandparent/Aunt/Uncle around! All by itself, this Z-Ring bracelet with light up crystals is great for dramatic Pokeman play. The “Z-Ring” holds up to 7 crystals (3 come with it), each of which display different lights, colors and vibrations when the button on the bracelet is pushed.
If your child has a Nintendo 3DS, they can also use the Z-ring to physically experience the game. While wearing the Z-ring and playing the new Pokeman Sun or Moon games, kids are able to feel to feel the electric-type Z-moves at the same time as they appears in the video game.
Lil Lockitz starting at $7.99 (5 – 12 years)
My 6-year-old daughter loves, loves making rainbow looms for her friends and trading them with her friends. So, I’ve been looking around to see if there were any other jewelry-making kits that would equally capture her interest. I think Lil Lockitz is definitely it.
Last month my husband purchased this rubber band refill set and she absolutely loved the charms that came with it… The Lil Lockitz sets are all about charms. The sets supply kids with gems, backgrounds and charms to fill and personalize each locket. Kids love the ability to customize the locket to fit their personality and if boys aren’t into the necklaces, there are bracelets and keychains to be made too.
Plus they’re large and easy to manipulate. And, like any good toy, there are a million different themed sets available. This Christmas I’m leaning towards starting my daughter off with the Best Friend Party Pack,which comes with a photo puncher to use your own photos in the lockets.
Beados Shopkins Sweet Spreee Design Station $21.24 (5 – 12 years)
If you’ve got an art lover, a Shopkins lover, or both, this gift is guaranteed to be a hit. And, bonus, your kids will spend long periods of time absorbed in concentration while completing projects (a parent’s dream, right?!). The process is very straightforward, kids choose a template of their favorite Shopkins, meticulously add the beads, spray with water, and then dry in the drying station.
They’re a lot like perler beads except I love that I don’t have to break out the iron, and of course my daughter loves the Shopkins templates. This one is also great for multiple kids using together during playdates. I’m stocking up for the next time we have kids over and for the next couple of birthday parties we’re invited to!
Exploding Kittens Card Game $19.99 (reading age and up)
Have you heard of this Uber popular game yet?! This hilarious card game made Kickstarter history by becoming it’s most backed project ever. Kids and adults alike cannot get enough of the bizarro premise of a kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette.
To play, players draw cards until someone draws an Exploding Kitten, at which point they explode, they are dead, and they are out of the game – unless that player has a Defuse card, which can defuse the Kitten using things like laser pointers, belly rubs, and catnip sandwiches. All of the other cards in the deck are used to move, mitigate, or avoid the Exploding Kittens. Check it out, you’ve gotta see it to understand… and then your whole family will be hooked!
An award-winning game that centers around visual perception and speed. The goal is to be the first to identify a match on a pair of cards and to call out out the name of the figure in common. This is the type of game that quickly becomes addictive and will cause lots of laughs and (hopefully) friendly competition. Also check out the newer Disney Frozen – Alphabet and Disney Planes – Alphabet versions.
VTech KidiZoom Action Cam $37.99 (6 years and up)
In a nutshell, this is a Go-Pro for kids… at a price that won’t give you a heart attack if something happens to it! I don’t know a school aged kid who wouldn’t love one of these and I love how it promotes creativity, learning to use technology, and being active. It also puts them in control of making their own videos without having to hand over your precious phone. What more is there to say?
Hexbug Playsets start at $17.49 (4 – 14 years)
Hexbug Nanos are robotic creatures that behave like real bugs. These simple little guys run on vibration alone and are a great introduction to the world of robotics. Beyond that, the flexibility of the multiple tracks allow for unlimited building options that will flex your kids’ engineering skills. Reviewers report that any kid who loves train tables, hot wheels, and the like will get hours and hours of fun out of this toy and I’d have to agree!
My son got the highly rated Hexbug Hive Playset when he was 5 and still loves it – it’s also a toy that goes over particularly well during play dates. The Hexbug Nano 5 sets and the brand new Hexbugs Warriors Battle Arena are a great addition to extend the fun to more players. Also new this year is the over-sized and flexible Hexbug Nano Jr., perfect for smaller hands.
HedBanz $7.99 (6+ years)
This is basically the classic “Who am I” game with fun headbands that kids will get a kick out of. Kids will flex their deductive reasoning skills with the game’s simple question-and-answer premise. By making connections and coming up with questions that will lead to answers, kids will also practice creative critical thinking skills.
SmartLab Toys Secret Formula Lab $29.99 (8+ years)
This is the science kit you always wanted as a kit, but didn’t really exist- a kid-friendly chemistry set that actually looks legit. The big fun here is in the apparatus. The beakers and test tubes are connected to each other via tubes and a plunger that make it possible to pump chemicals from one to the next and create lots of cool concoctions. Check out the video to see how it works.
I’m seriously considering this one as for my 8-year-old this year as I know it’s something he’ll have a lot of fun with on his own or with me. I also love that the kit comes with the chemicals required for the “40 epic experiments” and only requires the addition of basic kitchen ingredients, so we can play with it right out of the box.
This one looks like the rare STEM toy that will get kids excited about science in a way that involves something other than programming and technology. That gets a big gold star from me!
With the massive resurgence of Star Wars this year, I just couldn’t leave it off the list- but which toy to chose? Here are a few favorites:
- Interachtech Imperial Storm Trooper $29.84 – brand new interactive figure with over 65 sound effects and phrases, also compatible with the Hasbro Star Wars Studio FX app
- The Force Awakens Chewbacca Electronic Mask $23.99 – made famous by that lady on youtube who can’t stop laughing, this mask really is as fun as she makes it look.
- Star Wars Bop it! Game $20.62 – Just like the original Bop it! game, you have to push, pull, and twist but this time you’re doing so on R2D2 as C3PO calls out commands.
- Star Wars Pillow Buddies starting at $12 – Eight different options to choose to cuddle up to including Chewbacca, Yoda, and Kylo Ren.
- LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon $119.99 – It’s LEGOs and the Millennium Falcon. Enough said.
No Stress Chess $14.99 (6+ years)
When my kindergartner came home from school one day asking me to teach him to play chess, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand I was excited because, despite spending most of our time together on less cerebral activities, I have great memories of playing chess with my dad growing up. On the other hand, I was afraid he was a little young for it and might get frustrated and give up on the game all together.
Enter “No Stress Chess”. This genius game uses cards to teach young kids how to play in stages. The cards tell you which piece to move, so even children (and adults) who have never played the game can jump right in. The moves for each piece are on the cards as well as on the game board and the first stage makes the game about chance, not skill – you simply draw a card and do what it says, perfect for learning how the pieces work.
Once that is mastered, you can draw 3 cards at a time and decide which one you want to go with to introduce some strategy to the game. Finally, when you’re ready to play chess for real, just get rid of the cards and flip the board over to a traditional chess board… This one went under our Christmas tree a few years ago and has been a treasured game in our home ever since.
Side Note: If your little one is really into the game, there’s also Thinkfun’s Solitary Chess. This single player game takes it to the next level by using chess moves to solve logic puzzles. It’s the perfect thing for practicing when there’s no one available to play with.
Ed Emberely Drawing & Art Books starting at $6.29 (6+ years)
These books are just so cool for kids that have a passion for art because they can use them to teach themselves how to draw all the things they want to. We started with the thumbprint book, which is great for younger kids, and recently added the animal and vehicle drawing books for my son’s birthday as well as Picture Pie, which incorporates cutting and pasting shapes to make things step by step instead of just drawing.
Spirograph Deluxe Design Kit $24.99 (7 – 15 years)
I get so excited when the toys I loved as a kid come back into vogue and I remember spending HOURS playing with my spirograph as a kid. The things you can make with this are unlimited but also so impressive looking. This one is a classic for a reason and the 50th anniversary edition has some cool extras including a carrying case with a built-in work surface and putty to keep the spirographs in place (so smart).
LEGO Creator 3-in-1 Kits starting at $11.24, (age varies by kit)
This is another series of kits, much like the LEGO City collection with the difference being that each kit can be used to create 3 totally different things. My son thinks this is especially awesome and I did a lot of research to find the perfect set for his 6th birthday. We settled on the LEGO Creator 31011 Aviation Adventure and we were not disappointed! The photos don’t do justice to the sheer size of this thing! That and the number of pieces involved in the build truly make this the next level in LEGO builds.
Plus it actually has moving parts (pull back the landing gear to make the propellers move, slide the cockpit windshield back and up to insert and remove the two pilots, etc.). My son has been playing with it non-stop for weeks and he still hasn’t even gotten to the boat and helicopter he can build with this set. This toy has already given us hours and hours of fun and promises to give lots more – a great investment in my eyes.
MegaBloks American Girl Building Sets starting at $9.34 (4 – 12 years)
I’m so impressed with this line of LEGO-like building sets for girls. First of all, it’s American Girl brand, so that’s guaranteed to attract a lot of girls, even those who don’t gravitate towards building. Second, each set has a lot to it for girls to not only build, but also use as props during imaginary play- something girls are known to love to engage in.
There are a large variety of sets to chose from. I’m loving the Horse Stables Construction Set as well as Saige’s Art Studio and at $2 – $4 a piece, the American Girl figurines make great add-ons to any of the sets or stocking stuffers!
LEGO Master Builder Academy Kits starting at $32.00 (age varies by kit)
One of the things that impressed me most about The LEGO Movie was the emphasis on open-ended creativity through the “master builder” concept. So I was delighted to find that the “Master Builder Academy” series lives up to it’s name by offering kits that provide multiple builds but also amazing prompts to help kids create on their own. These extra special kits come with deluxe instruction manuals that teach technique as well as specific projects. I’m especially eyeing the LEGO Master Builder Academy Level 4 – Invention Designer kit which, while expensive, includes three 84-page Designer Handbooks teaching 6 LEGO Master Builder techniques.
One reviewer wrote, “Once I opened this kit I realized how special this set is. This kit comes with 3 very nicely printed books (on high quality stock paper) with detailed instructions and techniques for building different creations. I also learned that in addition to the 11 different items you can build, you can also unlock/download 22 ADDITIONAL instructions (from LegoMBA.com) to build even more items including vehicles and architectural structures! That was a huge, pleasant surprise for me! What other set can give you 33 different builds in a single box???” In addition to the special manuals, each of these kits also comes with an access code to members-only online LEGO Master Builder Academy content (mentioned above), featuring additional tips and building instructions, special videos and technique demonstrations, skill tests and fun activities, and a gallery for kids to show off their own custom creations.
Still want more ideas? Don’t forget to check out all 15 of the MPMK Gift Guides, organized by your child’s age:
For the hottest toys of the year see:
Plus, the rest of our guides organized by interest:
Tens of thousands of parents use these lists every Christmas to find the perfect gift!
If you like these recommendations, I encourage you to pin or bookmark them for later when you’re ready to start shopping. I would also love it if you forwarded the list on to your parenting friends or shared it on facebook – trust me, your friends will thank you for the help and you get to be the cool mom (or dad) with all the best resources. It’s a win-win.