18 Best Gifts for 7-Year-Olds
A 3D brain puzzler
Educational Insights Kanoodle Gravity ($20 at the time of publication)
Think of Kanoodle Gravity as a tactile, three-dimensional game of Tetris. Ten colorful pieces in an assortment of shapes must fit into a grid. Although you can take turns with a friend, my daughter relished the challenge of working her way through a booklet of 40 increasingly difficult puzzles on her own. Small, lightweight, and compact, this game is also easy to pack for travel. Kanoodle Gravity (which was named among the top engineering toys of 2019 by Inspire, a research institute in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University) is part of a series of Kanoodle brain teasers; the series also includes Kanoodle, Kanoodle Extreme, and Kanoodle Genius.
A durable fort-building kit
Tote-A-Fort ($40 at the time of publication)
My mom never complained when she had to pick up and put away almost all of the blankets in the house after my sisters and I made a fort in the dining room. It was only after my own children started fort-building in our living room that I understood how annoying this task can be. But who am I to take away that rite of passage? Tote-A-Fort is my solution. It comes with three durable blankets in three colors (yellow, blue, and red), with Velcro and straps that attach the blankets together and to the furniture. Anchor weights keep them from sinking down, and a cinch sack stores it all. My 5-year-old, our 15-pound dog, and I fit comfortably under the finished product, and the colorful material reminds me of the parachute game from physical education class in elementary school.
A classic Swatch
Swatch Flik Flak Watch ($40 at the time of publication)
I wouldn’t have imagined that a ton of kids would want an analog wristwatch these days, but it turned out that my nephews, then ages 7 and 9, really did. And I remembered how much I loved the Swatch Flik Flak watch that my own aunt and uncle got me when I was my nephews’ age. I wore it for years. Lo and behold, Swatch still makes Flik Flak kids watches, and they’re still tough, cute, affordable, and available in a million colors and patterns. My nephews each got one in their favorite color—one in blue with sharks and submarines, the other in red with dinosaurs—and they’re holding up fine after a couple of years.
A grab bag of geodes
National Geographic Break Open 15 Geodes ($45 at the time of publication)
Even for a kid who has everything, this box of geodes makes an impressive gift. On the outside, these break-open geodes look like boring round rocks. But after you smash them with a hammer (or, for better results, cut them with a tile saw, if you have one), their sparkly, gem-hued, crystal insides are revealed. The open geodes look impressively like pirate-chest treasure, as my son referred to his collection. After taking stock of the treasure, your child can read about geodes in an included National Geographic booklet, learning how they form and how to identify the different colors and types of crystals inside. And let’s be honest: For many kids (mine included), getting to smash and bash things with a hammer is a gift in and of itself. Safety goggles are included.
A heroic cast of characters
Roblox Action Collection Heroes of Robloxia Playset ($30 at the time of publication)
Roblox is an online platform where kids can navigate and interact their way through a variety of different games in numerous genres. Do your kids love animals and want to help them escape from a pet store? There’s a Roblox game for that. Are they into underwater adventures and longing to dive for treasure? There’s a Roblox game for that, too. My son’s personal favorite is Heroes of Robloxia, which lets kids be heroes, fight a villain, and save the day. The Roblox Action Collection Heroes of Robloxia Playset takes heroic missions offline and into kids’ hands. The action from the video game comes to life when my son uses the mix-and-match character pieces to create his hero and launches some villainous schemes for them to crack. The bonus: Screen time is traded for playtime.
Zombie fighting with friends
Scorpion Masque Zombie Kidz Evolution ($25 at the time of publication)
In this cooperative board game, kids team up to fend off a horde of zombies invading their school. With the roll of a die, players take turns moving from room to room, vanquishing zombies, or locking the gates to the school. When all four gates are locked, everyone wins. What’s fun is that the game keeps changing as kids play it, said Brian Mayer, a gaming, learning, and library specialist. These types of board games are called legacy games, which means that new challenges and complexities are added to the game in subsequent rounds. Zombie Kidz Evolution is one of the few legacy games for kids as young as 7. As you play more games, you earn rewards, such as stickers and mystery envelopes containing new information and rules that “unlock” over time.
Cows in space
ThinkFun Invasion of the Cow Snatchers ($30 at the time of publication)
In this solo puzzle game, the player is a UFO beaming up cows. A clear piece of plastic separates the spaceship from the pasture, where five cows (represented by red, blue, orange, pink, and yellow coins) are grazing—until they’re zapped up with a satisfying magnetic clink, that is. The game comes with 60 cards that show you how to set up the pasture and where to place the cows, and the puzzles become increasingly difficult as you advance. STEM education expert Elizabeth Gajdzik included Invasion of the Cow Snatchers on Purdue University’s 2019 list of the best engineering toys for kids, after student testers named it a favorite. (You can see Purdue’s 2020 gift guide here.) Gajdzik also liked that it exercises kids’ spatial reasoning skills.
A totable hub for creativity
Kid Made Modern Rainbow Craft Kit ($20 at the time of publication)
Googly eyes, pom-poms, beads, glitter, paper tubes, pipe cleaners in a range of colors—the Kid Made Modern Rainbow Craft Kit is a portable craft studio housed in a case made for carrying. “That’s the beauty of the box,” said Debbie Imperatore, manager of and buyer at Funky Monkey Toys in Greenvale, New York, and Greenwich, Connecticut. “It’s family-friendly. Put it in front of any kid and they can use their imagination to turn a piece of construction paper into a three-dimensional item.” The box is reusable, and the more than 300 pieces inside are organized by item type and color group. (If you need a larger craft stash, we recommend a 1,000-piece kit, also by Kid Made Modern, in our guide to gifts for 8-year-olds.) “It’s so happy-looking that when you put it on the table and kids open it up, they’re wowed,” said Imperatore. (When she gave it to a neighbor, the girl’s mom reported that her daughter was speechless.)
Thames & Kosmos Gummy Candy Lab ($25 at the time of publication)
Thames & Kosmos is known for making fun science kits that not only include easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions but also thoroughly explain the science behind the experiment, said Keith Schumacker, who at the time of our interview was general manager at now-closed Talbot’s Toyland in San Mateo, California. The Gummy Candy Lab (with variations for making gummy worms and gummy unicorns) comes with all the ingredients and molds you need to concoct your own fruit-flavored, multicolored gummy bears, and the instructions walk you through the chemistry of candy-making. Kids will likely need adult assistance, especially for the experiments that require the microwave and stove.
A monthly highlight
Highlights subscription ($40 for a one-year subscription at the time of publication)
I find it endearing that my kids look forward to the latest issue of Highlights, the same children’s magazine that I read as a child. Highlights still includes classics like Goofus and Gallant, the two polar-opposite boys who are always doing something naughty yet good. But the 74-year-old magazine has also been updated with a modern and diverse cast of characters. Every month, its 40 pages are packed with puzzles, games, short stories, recipes, art projects, and an advice column. I gave my daughter a subscription three years ago. Our house now has stacks of Highlights, because my kids refuse to let go of the back issues, and they reread them whenever they have the chance.
A hardy hoop
Canyon Hoops Hula Hoop (about $35 at the time of publication)
My husband and I were amused when our son gave a demonstration of his recently acquired hooping skills as a part of his third-grade parent-teacher conference. After seeing our kid’s enthusiasm for hooping, we set out to find a quality hoop for him to practice with at home. We called on the expertise of an old friend, Amy Goldstein, who directed the 2014 documentary The Hooping Life, which explores the subculture of serious hoopers. The durable polyethylene hoop Goldstein recommended (from Oregon-based Canyon Hoops) is a splurge. But I know that thinner, flimsier hoops tend to kink out of service within months. And I liked the idea of getting a quality tool to help our not-into-sports kid perhaps excel at an unexpected new pastime. Canyon Hoops’s versions come in lots of fun, striped designs, as well as in different weights, for beginners or more-advanced hoopers interested in performing all-body tricks. The 32-inch version is a good choice for kids between about 6 and 13, according to the company.
A new friend
Our Generation Deluxe Doll ($35 at the time of publication)
When it comes to toys, a doll is as classic as they come. Those by Our Generation are life-like and offer an alternative to the ever-popular—though much more expensive—American Girl dolls. (We recommend those in our guide to gifts for 8-year-olds.) Each doll (there are 19 to choose from in the Deluxe line) comes with different outfit options and a few accessories, and most come with a chapter book that tells a short story in which the doll is a character. These dolls have a diverse range of skin tones, backstories, and brushable hairstyles, offering plenty of options for your child to find a match. Wirecutter deputy editor Christine Cyr Clisset’s daughter received one as a gift when she was 7, and Christine notes that older kids seem to love this line too (her 9- and 11-year-old nieces are also smitten).
Educational Insights Artie 3000 The Coding Robot ($50 at the time of publication)
Many 7-year-olds are ready to start exploring coding (they may already be learning about it in school), and robots and other physical toys and games can offer a whimsical and tactile way to dive in. Artie 3000 is an adorable robot that can hold a marker to draw different shapes and designs—like a square—on a piece of paper. The robot pairs with an app or website that kids use to program Artie to create their works of art, advancing from simple, visual drag-and-drop instructions to coding in Python, a popular programming language. Once kids get the hang of it, they can let their imaginations run wild, said STEM education expert Elizabeth Gajdzik, who recommends Artie for kids ages 7 and up. Artie 3000 comes with four washable markers, but it can accommodate any skinny pen. (A downside is that Artie runs on AA batteries, instead of being rechargeable.)