Approaching their sixth birthday, kids are tremendously creative, and have no problem deftly merging fantasy and reality with inventive results. At GreatSchools.org, in an article on child development at age 6, a girl named Jenny explains her theory about how a frog got into a small backyard pond:
“The frog, desperate for water, asked Mr. Jack Rabbit, who is a really fast runner, “Please take me to a place with water.”
Being a good friend, Mr. Jack Rabbit said, “Of course. Just jump on my back, and I’ll take you to this nice pond.”
So the frog jumped onto the rabbit’s back, and the rabbit brought him to our pond.
“He really likes it here, and he’ll be Jack Rabbit’s friend forever,” said Jenny.”
Jenny and her playmates are probably aware that rabbits and frogs don’t really talk to each other, but at this age, kids are constantly exploring imaginative possibilities, as well as expanding their knowledge of the real world. There are no shortage of toys that will help them do one, the other, or both, so I divided up today’s birthday gift guide by personality types, with a range of price points. Happy shopping!
Goldieblox & the Movie Machine, $29.99
Create your own quickie animation, on paper and on tablets! As with all Goldieblox sets, this set teaches kids to build one invention and then encourages them to get inventive on their own – the play value and learning value of this birthday gift are tremendous.
Roominate Amusement Park Building Kit, $52.99
Build a Ferris wheel, a swinging pirate ship, a teacups ride, and other cool working rides, and then take the included dolls on an amusement park adventure! This set combines building, circuits, design, crafts, and storytelling to load learning in with the fun.
Laser Pegs Dinosaurs with 24 Models, $69.99
Light-up toys are cool. Dinosaurs are cool. Light-up dinosaur toys that you can build according to instructions and then customize? And then add pieces from other compatible block sets? WHOA, NELLY.
Melissa & Doug Scratch Magic Scratch & Sparkle Deluxe, $14.99
Use a stylus to scrape off the coating and reveal bursts of color and sparkle! This set comes with stencils and instructions for greeting cards, suncatchers, and other crafts – or, kids can just draw with the stylus to their heart’s content. Everything kids create on this paper looks neat!
The Original Spirograph Cyclex, $19.99
Make room on your fridge, Mom and Dad, because there are going to be a lot of pretty patterns coming out of this birthday gift! The Cyclex simplifies the process of making Spirograph art so that smaller kids can get super-cool results. There are no small parts to lose and no frustrating slippage – just the pure meditative joy of Spirographing.
Seedling Design Your Own Wooden Shield, $32.99
A rare unisex take on the design-your-own-craft-and-then-pretend-play-with-it theme: little knights of either gender will have a ball creating their own personal coat of arms and then defending their kingdom.
Faber-Castell Do Art Travel Easel, $34.99
This self-contained kit packs up into a little suitcase with compartments for every crayon, marker, and pencil, and includes a whiteboard, a chalkboard, and a sketchpad. Artistic kids will get a huge kick out of having all of these great supplies in one place, and being able to take them everywhere!
Can You Imagine Air Power Light-Up Soccer Floor Disk, $19.99
Let’s kick it! The appeal of this toy is hardly limited to the sporty kid, since there is NO child who won’t love playing with a disk that moves around everywhere like the puck on an air-hockey table (on its own self-produced air cushion). It’s nicely padded on the edges so it won’t die a premature death upon colliding with concrete, and it won’t wreck your furniture. Basically: any birthday girl or birthday boy is going to be into it.
Kid Galaxy Remote Control Morphibians Land Shark, $32.99
It’s called a land shark, but this remote-control car is actually able to handle aquatic habitats as well: Morphibians combine four-wheel drive and paddle wheel tires to navigate every surface from your living room to your back yard to outdoor mud, grass, dirt, and water! Or your bathtub or swimming pool. Control is pretty intuitive, for a short learning curve, and the all-terrain nature of this tough little guy means that obstacle courses are on the way!
OYO NHL Bruins Gametime Hockey Rink, $159.99
A very special treat for the local superfan: build your own incredibly detailed rink, complete with authentic logos, and populate it with OYO minifigures.
Alex Toys Arm Candy Bangles, $17.99
It’s a sweet and sparkly treat for a fashion designer in the making! Decorate six bangles to wear and/or share with candy wrapper stickers, gems, and glitter.
Alex Toys Super Mani Pedi Party, $24.99
Salon style that kids can try out at home! A great activity for a little fashionista to bring out during a playdate or sleepover party.
Q-Ba-Maze 2.0 Spectrum Marble Run, $69.99
The inclusion of this toy in this category isn’t necessarily intuitive until you look at it: the interlocking cubes that form this marble run are REALLY PRETTY. The set comes with 9 colors of cubes that let kids build lovely stained-glass-looking structures – then, drop a handful of marbles down and see what happens!