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From cool science kits and remote-controlled planes to an updated version of the classic game of Simon, the 8-year-old on your list is ready for some fun. We”ve rounded up our favorite finds for these tots who teeter on the edge of little-kid play and big-kid happenings. Check it out!
You”ve never seen Lego play quite like this. Lego Fusion Town Master ($35) fuses brick building and iPad play. Kids first build their own town with the two-dimensional bricks, and then use the Fusion app (which can read the bricks) to photograph their collection and play with their new town in app mode. Once on the iPad, they can continue building their town and bring it to life as the minifigures enjoy their time in town.
Get these while you can! Last year Crazy Lights Magic Water Speakers ($43) hit the tail end of the holiday shopping season, and only a lucky few were able to purchase them in time for the holiday. This year, they”re available earlier in the season, and if the squeals of excitement I witnessed as a group of tween girls came upon them is any indication, they”re a guaranteed hit. Simply fill the speakers with water; plug them in to your computer, phone, or anything else with a USB port; and watch as the colors and bubbles move to the beat of your kids” favorite tunes.
With the introduction of the new Star Wars Rebels show came a new line of Lego sets, including Star Wars Rebels the Ghost ($90). The set includes two cockpits, two spring-loaded shooters, and ejecting escape pods.
The Hot Wheels brand moves off the track and into the air with its first-ever flying toy. The Hot Wheels RC Street Hawk ($60) is battery-operated and flies up to 200 feet in the air. Light as a feather, it operates just like a remote-control car but does so off the ground! It truly is the coolest car around.
Inspired by all of the images on Pinterest, Crayola”s Meltdown Art Set ($14) comes with materials for three melting crayon projects that simply need a hairdryer to work.
Last year, Disney Infinity was one of our must-have items of the holiday season. The idea of playing an interactive video game where you can actually be your favorite Disney characters made it an instant hit — not to mention the toy box feature where characters from different Disney films can interact. This year Disney is expanding the line to include Marvel Superheroes ($75), such as Hulk, Captain America, and Thor. The new characters are compatible with Disney Infinity 2.0, an upgrade to the previous system, meaning that for the first time ever, Captain America can team up with Buzz Lightyear for some fun.
If you anticipate your child falling in love with the Harry Potter series, this Harry Potter Hardcover Boxed Set ($137) has everything you”ll need for them to work their way through the series.
Similar to another line of shooters with foam pieces, BOOMco. Rapid Madness Blaster ($50) is an air-powered (read: no batteries) blaster that fires 20 darts in seconds. The darts have reusable Smart Stick material that allow them to attach from targets.
What started as a Summer fad sported by Beyoncé quickly trickled down to kids and now metallic Flash Tattoos are all the rage!
Ever want to create your own pieces and board for Monopoly? Now you can, and it is easier than ever. My Monopoly ($22) has a free app and website that users can go to and personalize property spaces, game tokens, Community Chest, and Chance cards. Use images from your computer or even Facebook, add in your own captions, and print them on the included stickers. You can change up the board as often as you like!
Mom and Dad spent plenty of afternoons playing Simon, and now their kiddos can get in on the fun — in a modern way, of course! Simon Swipe ($22) is all the fun of the original but with a swiping motion (more like an iPad movement than a push).
I spent hours playing with Spirograph as a kid. I loved making the intricately patterned designs in a variety of colors. The Spirograph Deluxe Kit ($30) has all of the fun pieces of the original, but it now comes in a carrying case designed for kids to travel with, too.
Rather than have your tot create crafts that she”ll never use again, check out Fashion Angels It”s My Biz Vintage T-Shirt Shop ($25), a kit designed to help her set up her own silk-screened t-shirt “business.”
A skateboard/snowboard hybrid, the Ripstik Caster Board ($100) pivots its way across the ground so kids can replicate the motions of the traditional boards — but with a little more style.
If your kids” school is anything like mine, chess is all the rage. A beautiful chess set ($50) is the perfect way for them to hone their skills.
Your hoops fan can now become the star of his own highlight reel thanks to the NERF N-Sports Cyber Hoop ($20). The app-enhanced hoop not only records your moves and edits them into an ESPN-style reel, it allows kids to compete against their friends.
The age-old favorite, The Game of Life gets a glitzy upgrade in the The Game of Life Fame Edition ($25). This time around, you”re living the celebrity lifestyle as a supermodel, a pop singer, a pro athlete, or a movie star.
The Nancy B Science Club is packed with scientific tools and journaling so little girls can track their science experiences. The Nancy B”s Science Club MoonScope and Journal ($50) comes with a built-in red LED for night viewing.
Everyone”s favorite app comes to life with the tablet version Draw Something Party Board Game ($27).
Turn them into little rock stars with the Singing Machine”s Singing Machine Lights & Recording Karaoke ($130). The disco lights only enhance the entire process.
Let your daughter show off her name loud and proud with RH Baby and Child”s Petite Leather Personalized Charm Bracelet ($35). The sweet leather bands hold a charm embossed with your tot”s initial.
If your little girl has been really good — we mean really good — this year, then she may deserve a night in the famed, one-of-a-kind Eloise Suite at The Plaza Hotel in NYC. Based on the hotel”s most famous resident, the Eloise Suite Package (starting at $1,395 per night) includes luxurious accommodations in the Betsey Johnson-decorated room, an Eloise-inspired tea at The Palm Court in the hotel, an Eloise bathrobe, $100 to spend at the Eloise gift shop, a framed photo of your child in the room, an Eloise book, and the assistance of a dedicated Eloise ambassador during your stay. I mean, if you”re going to go all out, why not make it a memorable experience?
Disney fans will fall in love with Disney Spotlight Digital Wireless Mic + Karaoke App ($100), a wireless microphone that interacts with the iPad to transform it into the ultimate karaoke machine. It even allows mama to film her tots singing away!
The updated Easy Bake Oven ($60) may not include a lightbulb for heating food anymore (it now uses a heating element), but it still turns out fun treats!
Swish ($14) challenges kids to turn and flip the transparent cards to make matches. When cards are stacked, it looks like the balls are “swishing” into an empty hoop.
Your child will certainly make his mark in the neighborhood with Fuze Bike FX Wheel Writer ($25). Simply attach the writer onto the spokes of his bike, and watch as they turn into one of 12 LED images every time he starts peddling.
Experience science through 79 experiments that can be done with a soda bottle when you gift your child the Pop Bottle Science kit ($16).