Over the years, I have heard from parents of tweens and soon to be teens how tricky buying gifts for this age can be. Because of this, I started my Tween Gift Guide last year. This year, I have tried to offer as many new ideas as possible for this hard to please crowd but suggest you take a look at last year's guide for additional ideas.
So many of these kids still want to "play" but at the same time, want to act all grown-up. I know from my own 11-year old niece, that she has been asking for a phone or a computer for years but at the same time, she still wants to be a kid and get presents that will entertain her. And she is not any different than any kids her age...no matter how into clothes and technology they are, they still want to get presents that they can "play" with. So, this particular list is dedicated to all those kids of mine who I have known since they were babies and who are now tweens. To those kids who are in limbo and aren't quite ready to grow up and just get all clothes and big kid kinda stuff...this blog is for you!
Polaroid Camera-I think this is one of the greatest gifts that you can give a tween, especially those who don't have their own phone yet. Kids love taking pictures and I have found that when kids use digital cameras, they are just clicking away without really understanding what they are taking and why they are taking them. I have found that using a Polaroid camera makes kids pay attention to their environment a bit more...makes them connect to the people they are with more. This is because you have to be certain about what you want to take a picture of because you can't erase it or do it over. One thing I recommend to people is that kids have a book or journal dedicated to the pictures they take with their camera. This allows them to store and write about the picture in a place where they can use it as a keepsake item.
DIY Ukelele-there was something about this DIY kit that really caught my eye. First of all, I think more and more kids are getting into music these days. I know that many of the kids in my family are all inspired by music and arts so that is probably what made me want to include this on this years list. The kit is easy and the end-product is something that your kids will enjoy for years. It comes with an unfinished and pre-assembled body, guitar neck and the strings. Once it is put together, your child can make it all their own by painting it or adding stickers, decals, etc.. Great for working on improving fine motor, visual motor and perceptual skills, executive functioning skills such as following directions, focus and attention and organizational skills. Once it is completed, kids have this boost in confidence and self-esteem from having built something from scratch. Then there is the added benefits of being able to learn how to play a new instrument!
Sewing Machine-another thing I feel like kids are much more interested in these days are fashion and some of them even want to learn how to make their own clothes at a young age. I have actually been on the lookout for a good sewing machine for my own daughter who has aspirations to become a fashion designer when she grows up. I didn't want to spend a ton of money, but I definitely wanted one that was more than just a kid one. I reached out to a family friend and she highly recommended this one by Janome (full disclosure...you can get it much cheaper on Amazon)....it's definitely not top of the line but it is one of the best portable ones and intended for younger sewers. There are a tremendous amount of developmental benefits from learning how to sew and they say that the ideal age to introduce your children to this is between 8 and 12 years of age. Some of the benefits are working on improving fine motor skills, visual motor and visual perceptual skills and developing executive functioning skills such as organization, motor planning, time management and following instructions. Most importantly, it helps kids develop self-esteem and builds confidence when they complete their projects.
Air Power Soccer Disc-another great and affordable product that encourages kids to get up and move around. Part air hockey puck, part levitating ball, this durable disk glides over floors with a push or a kick. It's made of plastic and rubber and has a cushion around the outside so it can be used for indoor or outdoor use. It also lights up making it suitable for nighttime play. Kids can work on improving gross motor skills such as balance, coordination, motor planning and organizational skills. Great for working on improving social skills, teamwork and collaboration while also working on improving confidence and self-esteem.
Tabletop Air Hockey Table-I've had more hours of fun playing air hockey over the years with my family and friends and I love that it is still a game that kids love to play. Living in NYC, having a giant air hockey table is not possible so I was excited when I found this tabletop one and have been suggesting it for some of my older kids over the years. I love air hockey because it is a fun way to work on improving hand-eye coordination skills, visual motor and visual perceptual skills, fine motor skills and executive functioning skills such as focus, attention and organizational skills. This is a great activity for kids on playdates or to do with their siblings or with their parents.
Emoji Uno-Uno will continue to be one of my favorite games. First of all, it's easy to play as a family or with a group of friends. Secondly, it's easy to carry around with you, making it perfect to take on vacations or when you know you are going to be waiting somewhere for a long time (think a sibling's sporting event or therapy appointment). This version of Uno is almost exactly like the original Uno game except that all the special cards have a different emoji on it. If someone puts that down, the person who follows them has to hold that face for two turns.
Great for working on visual motor and visual perceptual skills, hand-eye coordination, fine motor strengthening (holding the cards) and a fun way to work on improving focus, attention and organizational skills. There are also a tremendous amount of opportunities to work on social skills and becoming a little bit more in touch with and understanding emotions and feelings.
Fündapop-as you can see, I am trying to suggest things that get kids playing together and up and moving around. I've been recommending the OgoSport Ogodisk to families for years and years and while I think it is something great for all ages, I was really drawn to the Fündapop for the older kids. Fündapop is a catching game with a bit of a twist. Kids put their hands in the mit and when they want to throw the ball, they open their hand and the ball pops out super fast. Once the ball lands in the other mit, it will snap closed. This could be a great gross motor gift for kids who may have a hard time with throwing a ball. Fündapop works on improving hand-eye coordination, grasp strength and manipulations skills, focus, attention and organizational skills and improves social skills as kids play together to catch and "throw" the ball with each other.