The Best Gifts for 6-Year-Olds, According to Child Development Experts

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Even this year, when everything we know about school has been upended, entering first grade is a major milestone for kids. By age 6, kids start to grasp the concepts of cooperation and sharing. They understand the importance of friendships and group play. And while they continue to have tantrums, they are able to better regulate their emotions and communicate their needs and feelings. The best gifts for 6 year olds help them with their development and encourage their love of learning and discovery.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children has some clear guidelines on the types of toys that will resonate with 6-year-olds.

The Best Toys and Gifts for 6-year-olds

Toys that help with problem-solving, like puzzles and building blocks.

Toys that facilitate pretend play, like transportation toys, construction sets, child-sized furniture, dress-up clothes, dolls with accessories, puppets, and sand and water play toys.

Toys that help kids create stuff, like art sets and modeling clay.

Toys that encourage physical activity, like balls and bikes.

The updated version of Botley still lets kids engage in screen-free coding. And he's still just as cute. But he now has night vision and does sweet 45 degree turns.

Dogs. Cats. Unicorns. Dragons. Mermaids. Or ... cars and houses. Kids get 85 translucent, colorful 3D shapes, including 14 square pyramids, 18 triangular prisms, 40 cubes, 6 hexagonal prism and 7 rectangular prisms, to build whatever they dream up.

A creative treasure trove, this kit comes with a trio of wooden robots and everything kids need to customize them.

Barbie is by no means a perfect toy. But this fully articulated doll pays tribute to one of the greatest civil rights heroes of our country, a woman who truly changed the course of history. And that's something worth noting.

A love of science is just one slime experiment away. Let you kid play mad scientist with this 18 piece set featuring multiple science-themed activities. If you're itching to get something with the STEM label, this one checks that box too.

This is not your grandma's marble maze. With over 124 cubes, kids can redesign this maze over and over again.

Space cowboy archeologists dig through 26 different levels to dissect the alien and find the gem hidden inside. Best of all, it comes with its own dissection tray to keep keep the mess nicely contained.

Kids get 17 pieces to build the robot of their dreams and use an app to control their invention. But the thing is fully modular, because it's also compatible with Lego bricks. Meaning the building possibilities are pretty much endless.

The goal here: Build tricked-out motorized vehicles and machines, which can be controlled via an infrared remote control. Kids get 182 pieces and three motors that can be combined to make complicated creations in up to 10 different configurations.

This super-cool set gives Lego builders a play experience that combines the endless possibilities of LEGO construction bricks with a continuously updated augmented reality game app.Once kids are done building the ghost lab, they can scan the LEGO model with a phone to make it come alive and see crazy things happen.

Part chemistry set, part magic kit, this kit shows kids the science behind the magic. Magicians make powders change color, create a test tube crystal ball, and even come up with glow in the dark bubbling concoctions.

A fantastic coding kit that works without screens or devices.Instead of having to download apps and sync anything up, kids lay down a sequence of physical code cards to program the robot to move around, activate its output gear, light up its LEDs, play sounds, and be a general badass.

Encourage your budding Annie Leibovitz or Ansel Adams to view the world a little differently with this easy-to-use starter camera for kids. Your kid can drop this on the ground, throw it down, kick it around (not that we encourage these things but hey, we're realists), and it will hold up. It's an actual digital camera with a 2.4 inch color LCD screen and can take photos and videos and, of course, selfies.

Zoobs are cool because they're made up of gears, axels and joints that snap, click, and pop together, allowing kids to build all manner of creatures, cars, and creations.

This starter microscope is fully functional and gives kids hands-on exposure to science. They can track the lifecycle of a bring shrimp, check out pre-made slides under the microscope or make their own.

Budding space cowboys get everything they need to build, and launch, a pair of model orbiter spaceships. They also paint model planets, and create a solar system.

If you'd rather make your own, here's everything your kid needs need to open his or her own slime factory.Slime has been around since just about forever and never loses its appeal. This set lets kids create whatever color they want. Yes, it's messy, but it's also highly creative.

Because this bike is a single speed, new riders can get the hang of biking without having to shift gears.This great starter bike has 16-inch wheels for young riders, and fits kids 38 to 45 inches tall. It's a solid investment to help kids stay physically active, and really, those are the best gifts for 6-year-olds.

Five games fold into one convenient base and carrying case. Kids can kick a soccer ball that will never go missing as it's attached by string to the base, set up the net for a game of volleyball, try their hand at swingball or tailball, or throw the disc back and forth.

This wee robot is the size of a ping pong ball, but can teach kids big lessons about coding. This app-enabled mini ball proves that it's never too early to introduce your 6-year-old to programming concepts. Kids can play three different arcade-type games: Shoot through space, speed through a tunnel and smash bricks. As they advance, they can download a different app that introduces the JavaScript and Swift languages.

This fun STEM toy marries science and creativity, as kids work to first build a skeleton and then add layers of modeling clay to the outside. You can decide to create a gator, shark, chameleon or, perhaps the coolest, a hybrid creature of your own design. The instructional guide also includes impressive animal factoids.

Open-ended play is the best play and with this set, kids can build the roller coasters and cars of their fantasies.This killer set includes a motor, which powers whatever your kids build. Speaking of building, kids get 529 parts, including different sizes of connectors, rods, and wheels that click together for whatever configuration they want.

Kids will tap into their creative side with this soap crafting kit. When you mix glycerin with soap powder it becomes soft and moldable like clay, so kids can shape it into the creatures of their dreams, decorate them with waterproof googly eyes and other accessories, and then use them during bath time.

Think of it as airborne surfing. With a weight limit of 500 pounds, this ultra-comfortable swing lets kids soar through the air (or just quietly hang out) and thanks to its durable foam-covered metal frame, can support multiple kids at once.

Sometimes all it takes to spark a few hours of imaginative pretend play is an accessory. This reversible cape doubles as both a king and a knight, so the possibilities are endless.

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