"Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through these links."
When shopping for gifts for kids who are 8 years old, it seems like a totally new world has opened up for them. Do they like science? They can do anything from learning about chemistry in virtual reality to snapping together their own electronic circuits. Are they into art? They can make their own comic books or design their own kinetic sculptures out of LEGO sets.
And while it seems like they've left their toddler blocks behind, building might have a special appeal for 8-year-old boys and girls. "Kids this age have much greater fine motor dexterity and can create endless possibilities whether building structures, personalized characters, associated complex storylines or copying a preferred design," says Jennifer Rothman, LCSW. She also recommends games, staring with collaborative ones. "Working together with friends in a more structured game is a nice entry point before more competitive play," she says.
And while more choice is always great, sometimes it also makes things more complicated. It'd be nice to have first-hand knowledge about which toys and gifts are actually going to last, both in terms of construction and appeal for an 8-year-old.
The Good Housekeeping Institute does just that, testing hundreds of toys that hit the market each year in advance of the Good Housekeeping Best Toy Awards. First, it tests the quality, durability and — most importantly — safety in the lab, but then real 8-year-olds have the tougher job: making sure the toys are actually fun. We mixed their results in with some editor's picks, which include bestsellers and other trendy items, like fidget toys, to bring you the best toys and gifts to buy 8-year-olds in 2023.
Sky Castle DoodleJamz JellyPics, $10 on amazon.com
Thames & Kosmos Creatto, $11 on amazon.com
Educational Insights Kanoodle Pyramid, $19 on amazon.com
Klutz Lego Gear Bots Science/STEM Activity Kit, $20 on amazon.com
A Whale of a Time: Funny Poems for Each Day of the Year, $33 on amazon.com
Looking for more great gifts? Check out these Good Housekeeping guides:
Custom Neon Signs, YSMNDE Personalized Name Neon Light, Dimmable LED Neon Sign for Home Bedroom Wall Decor, Birthday, Wedding, Festival Gift, Party, Bar, Salon, Company Logo (Optional 20" to 55")
It's a silly, soothing sensory toy that can help them keep their fidgety hands occupied. The board is filled with gel and beads, and kids can push around the beads with their fingers or the included stylus. It comes with a two-sided background, but kids can also print or make their own. Ages 5+
Furby Purple Plush Interactive Toys for 6 Year Old Girls & Boys & Up
They can build countless creations that will light up and shine when it's all put together. Tiles are fitted with light-up wire, and each kit can be put together in a couple of different ways (or they can come up with their own). Good Housekeeping testers say it does take a little time to make something, but they'll be super proud once it's done. Ages 8+
Hot Wheels Rift Rally - Mixed Reality Driving Game - 140+ Legendary Hot Wheels - Multiple Game Modes - Customizable In-home Track - For PS 4/5, iPhone, iPad (Chameleon RC Supercar Standard Edition)
If the 8-year-old in your life is always looking for a new way to busy their hands, GooToobz has them covered. A windy pathway is filled with goo, glitter and other objects, and kids get a quiet sensory experience when they tilt and squeeze the fluid through the maze. It comes in several colors and looks. Ages 4+
Spin Flip Puzzle - Hypnotic - Spin it, Flip it, Solve it! for Those who Love Brain teasers! Adult Fidget Toy. Great Gift for Mom, Dad, Teens, Men and Women
Have they already mastered the iconic Rubik's Cube? Take the challenge up a level with the Rubik's phantom, which tests their memory as well as their puzzle-solving skills. The colors of the squares don't appear unless they feel the body heat of a hand, so they'll have to touch them, make their moves and then twist the cube before they disappear again. Ages 8+
This kit comes with everything they'll need to grow a tall, beautiful sunflower, indoors or out. First, your budding gardener can decorate the pot, then plant the seeds and watch their new bloom grow. It even comes with a little notebook so they can sketch its progress. One Good Housekeeping tester was amazed by how fast the plants sprouted. Ages 6+
Illuminated Apparel Interactive Glow in The Dark T-Shirt - Fun for Birthday Parties & Festivals (Black/Green Glow, 9-11 Years)
Sleuth & Solve
Kids can break out their deerstalker caps and critical thinking skills when they step into the role of detective. The book lays out 20 different mysteries, and kids have to use their powers of deduction and logic to figure them out before lifting a flap to reveal the answer. If they like it, they can move on to other Sleuth and Solve books, including Sleuth and Solve: Science and Sleuth & Solve: History. Ages 8+
Schylling Nee Doh Dig' It Pig...Groovy Glob! Squishy, Squeezy, Stretchy Stress Fidget Balls Gift Set Party Bundle - 3 Pack (Assorted)
MasterChef Family Cooking Game
Good Housekeeping Institute testers loved this game because they actually got to do real cooking with real ingredients (and test the results). The game offers challenges, like prepping one-handed or taste-testing an ingredient while blindfolded. It also comes with two child-safe knives. Ages 7+
Good Housekeeping Kids Bake
If they love being in the kitchen, this book with gives them more than 100 new recipes to try, all triple-tested by the pros from the Good Housekeeping Institute. And even though it's a baking book, there are plenty of savory delights — like spanakopita and classic margherita pizza — in there with the chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon rolls. Ages 8+
Adults may remember Digimon from back in the day, and it's returned with cool, new features, including a new quest mode. It's reverse-compatible with all the old units, too! Ages 8+
Pokémon Battle Academy
Kids who are interested in learning the Pokémon Trading Card Game can get step-by-step instructions from this game, which makes the rules easy to understand for new players. It comes with three decks, so you can jump in right away. Ages 6+
Get their brains going with this mind-teaser that's taken the world of social media by storm. Challenge cards give players the beginning of a 3D shape, and players have to fill it in with the remaining pieces. With more than 200 puzzles to complete, they'll definitely have enough challenge to keep them busy. Ages 7+
'The Super Mario Bros. Movie' Fire-breathing Bowser
When this Bowser gets all fired up, his mouth glows red and real smoke emits from it. (Don't worry, it's a cool mist.) It stands tall at 7 inches, so it'll also look mighty on a shelf. It's enough to make you sing, "Peaches, Peaches, Peaches!" Ages 3+
A companion to Cat Crimes, this game turns kids into detectives. Each of the increasingly difficult challenge cards offers a list of clues as to which canine committed a crime, and kids have to put them together to deduce the culprit. It comes with 40 challenges, and it's one of the rare games that kids can play on their own. Ages 8+
RELATED: The Best Board Games for Kids
Lego Gear Bots
LEGO fans — and what kid isn't? — can find new projects and ideas with this kit, which gives them pieces and inspiration to make eight different kinetic LEGO sculptures. They can build an octopus that DJs, a pterodactyl that moves its wings or a yeti that smashes, all of which are operated by a crank on the side. The characters are made out of paper, so they'll be able to use their art skills, too. Ages 8+
$25 to $40
Rainbow Craft Kit
You never know when inspiration is going to strike them, so it's best to have the craft materials they need at the ready. This set contains more than 300 pieces of crafting supplies, including all the pom pom, paillettes, pipe cleaners, beads, paper tubes, felt and googly eyes they need to turn their visions into reality — and all in every color of the rainbow. Ages 6+
Shape Shifting Box
They'll be mesmerized with this box, which unfolds into different 3D shapes, and then becomes a puzzle with the challenge of getting it back into a cube. The ultimate fidget toy, it comes in a variety of patterns. Ages 8+
This board game will have the whole family working together to fight monsters and save the castle walls from being breached, which requires strategy and cooperation. The combo has earned this came more than 2,200 five-star reviews on Amazon. And, once you've mastered the cooperative version, there are ways to adapt the rules for different gameplay (like one-vs-many or solitaire). Ages 8+
A Whale of a Time
Good Housekeeping Institute testers loved this book, which offers a funny poem for every day of the year from poets known and known and unknown. “This has become my coffee-table book," one parent tester said. “Both of my kids look forward to their daily poem." Ages 4 – 8
$40 and Up
Aaron Wheelz Wheelie Chair
Inspired by Aaron "Wheelz" Fotheringham, Paralympian and wheelchair motocross world champion, this remote-controlled vehicle does spins and tricks and has a "wheelie boost" function that makes it super speedy — it can go up to 30 mph! It also has a self-righting feature that helps it come back up when it gets knocked over. Ages 6+
Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Exploration Kit
You don't need a soldering iron to get started making electronic projects — all the pieces in this kit snap together. And though it's just 28 parts, it can make more than 100 projects, including an adjustable-volume siren, a photo sensor and a flashing light. Ages 8+
Hogwarts: Room of Requirement
Wouldn't it be great if all LEGO pieces were like Harry Potter's Room of Requirement — just there when you need it? The next best thing is building out the Hogwarts room itself. This set stands 15" high when it's complete, and opens up and includes a removable second-floor room so it can be used as a play set. It also comes with figures of Harry, Hermione, Draco and the Gray Lady. Ages 8+
Carpool Karaoke Mic
Inspired by the wildly popular segment on The Late Show with James Corden, this microphone toy transforms the family car into a cool Carpool Karaoke ride! It's super easy to set up and use: First, find an open station on your radio and match the station with the mic. Then pair your mobile device to the mic via Bluetooth and sing to your favorite tunes from the mic or music app! Your 8-year-old will love singing his favorite tunes (and let's face it, so will the rest of the family — except the driver has to keep both hands on the wheel). Ages 8+
Bill Nye's VR Science Kit
This isn't your typical, at-home science kit. Kids wear VR goggles to watch as science legend Bill Nye makes concepts come to life before them. The set includes 50 pieces, including things like beakers and measuring cups, but you have to provide your own Android or iOS device to take advantage of the VR capabilities. Ages 8+
GraviTrax PRO Vertical Starter Set
Good Housekeeping testers have long been fans of the GraviTrax sets, which lets kids make marble runs with cool tricks and elements. For those who love to build up big structures, this starter set lets kids make taller towers faster, so they can make good use of all that gravity. If they're into it, expansion sets will help them build out their runs. Ages 8+
How we choose the best toys
Before including our favorite picks in an article, the Good Housekeeping Institute does rigorous toy testing to ensure we're recommending only the best. Many of our choices come from our yearly Toy Awards, where we test each item based on the following criteria:
✔️Safety: Our engineers and analysts make sure that each toy reaches all safety standards. They also assess things like pinch points and make sure toys won’t shatter into small pieces to pose a potential choking hazard.
✔️Ease of Use: We look at each toy to evaluate how simple it is to assemble, how well it’s constructed and how durable it is during play.
✔️Kid Approval: Aside from testing each toy for skill-building attributes, like how well it develops social-emotional skills, all our final decisions come from more than 100 children, ages 1 to 15, who assess the fun factor!
Why trust Good Housekeeping?
Much of the toy testing for this article was overseen by Rachel Rothman, the Good Housekeeping Institute's chief technologist and director of engineering, with the help of Marisa LaScala, Good Housekeeping's senior parenting and relationships editor. For more than 15 years, Rachel has put her training in mechanical engineering and applied mathematics to work by researching, testing and writing about parenting products. Plus, as a mom to three kids under 5, she has plenty of first-hand experience.
Marisa has covered all aspects of the world of parenting, from the postpartum years through the empty nests, since 2015, and she's pitched in with Good Housekeeping's toy coverage since 2018. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter, who are both avid toy collectors. Marisa knows from experience that the best adjective to use in Mad Libs is always "stinky."
Shop more toys and gifts for kids
Looking for more great gifts for kids? Let the experts do all the hard work for you!
Top-tested items: See what toys, gifts and books ranked the very highest in our Lab tests with our Good Housekeeping Best Toy Awards, our Good Housekeeping Best Kids’ Book Awards and our Good Housekeeping Parenting Awards.
Tech for kids: Our lab experts are often asked for recommendations for digital devices for kids, and we've tested kids' phones, kids' smartwatches, kids' tablets and game consoles and to see which ones held up the best for families.
Great learning toys: While all toys can be helpful vehicles for supporting developmental growth, we love to spotlight notably exceptional educational Toys and STEM toys as well as ones that can support social-emotional growth, like those included in our lists of the best sensory toys, pop fidget toys, Montessori toys and autism toys.
Gifts for babies: Please the newest members on your gift list (and their parents) with these useful baby registry items, as well as gifts for babies, gifts for baby girls and gifts for baby boys. Of course, you might want to get something for new parents to help them through the hectic newborn stage.
Gifts for toddlers: The coolest new toys in this space pull double-duty, whether it's social-emotional learning combined with motor skills, or creative play combined with language, as you can see in our gift guides for gifts for 1-year-olds, gifts for 18-month-olds, gifts for 2-year-olds and gifts for all toddlers, as well as our stocking stuffers for toddlers.
Gifts for preschoolers: As they begin to explore the world around them on a deeper level, help them explore with STEM sets, art kits, creative toys and toys that inspire their imaginations. Find our favorites in our gifts for 3-year-olds (including gifts for 3-year-old boys and gifts for 3-year-old girls), gifts for 4-year-olds (including gifts for 4-year-old boys and gifts for 4-year-old girls) and gifts for 5-year-olds (including gifts for 5-year-old boys and gifts for 5-year-old girls).
Gifts for big kids: By these ages, they've developed their own interests. Help them dive deeper into the subjects that most interest them, from coding to art to cartooning to history and geography, with these gifts for 6-year-olds (including gifts for 6-year-old boys and gifts for 6-year-old girls), gifts for 7-year-olds (including gifts for 7-year-old boys and gifts for 7-year-old girls), gifts for 8-year-olds (including gifts for 8-year-old boys and gifts for 8-year-old girls), and gifts for 9-year-olds (including gifts for 9-year-old boys and gifts for 9-year-old girls). It's also fun to shop for some of our best-reviewed and top-selling stocking stuffers for kids.
Gifts for tweens: Sure, once they get old enough for an iPad or gaming console you might be at a loss of what to get them. We have you covered with engaging picks for gifts for 10-year-olds (including gifts for 10-year-old boys and gifts for 10-year-old girls), gifts for 11-year-olds (including gifts for 11-year-old boys and gifts for 11-year-old girls), and gifts for 12-year-olds (including gifts for 12-year-old boys and gifts for 12-year-old girls), or see what's trending with boys or tween girls as a whole.
Gifts for teens: We decode what's on the lists for this picky age group, from the hottest accessories to the most-wanted tech gifts, with gifts for 13-year-old boys, gifts for 13-year-old girls, gifts for 14-year-olds, gifts for 15-year-old boys, gifts for 15-year-old girls, gifts for 16-year-olds, gifts for teen girls, gifts for teen boys and even fun stocking stuffers for teens.
You Might Also Like