The older kids get, the trickier they are to buy for. If they’re at that in-between phase where toys are too babyish but money is too boring, try one of these engaging options.
Velodyne vPulse In-Ear Headphones
You know the phrase you get what you pay for? Nothing is more true than when it comes to premium sound. And you know those ear buds you get with your iPhone and iPod? For free? Yeah, there’s a reason they’re thrown in for nothing. If standard earbuds leave your tween with aching ears due to poor fit and/or sound, it’s time to invest in something that’s better on both fronts. Customize the fit with interchangeable ear tips, which are included in both gray and black, and the pressure-relief system reduces air pressure in the ear furthering the comfort factor. Control the volume, song advance and rewind, and phone call functions with the in-line control. The sound is phenomenal, and we’ve never felt a more comfortable fit. Ever. At $99, the Velodyne vPulse headphones are pricey, but you can’t put a price on quality sound and comfort. Available in black, blue and pink; drawstring storage pouch included.
DIY Bongo Drums
For the truly do-it-yourself kid who marches to his own beat, there is no better gift that one he can put together on his own. This kit comes with everything a kid needs to create his own set of bongos. Natural wood bases, which can be decorated or left bare, set the foundation; the pre-stretched heads are attached with the included hardware. The larger drum—the hembra—measures 5 inches, while the smaller one—the macho—is 4 inches. Quick and easy assembly means your in-house beatmaster will be doling out the rhythm in no time flat!
Gamewright That’s It Party Game
If Family Game Night is a weekly staple in your home, this game is one to add to your repertoire. Simple to play and scant in parts and pieces, “That’s It” from Gamewright is a winner all around! One person reads from the card (ex. Something associated with bees.), while two teams battle it out to come up with the word on the card (in this case, “hive.”). The team that gets the correct word first gets two tokens, which are kept face down. At the end of the card, each team turns over their tokens, adds up the points on the back of them, and the team with the highest score wins that round. Easy fun for all!
MyCharge Freedom Case
When your tween’s beloved iPhone battery dies before she’s snapped her latest selfie, it’s time to take charge. The MyCharge Freedom Case is equal parts protective case and battery powerhouse. The rechargeable case provides an extra nine hours of talk time to the standard iPhone battery. And the high-density foam interior protects the precious cargo from inevitable drops, helping protect what is, no doubt, your child’s most prized possession. Available in five different colors featuring a brushed metal finish.
Thames & Kosmos Air-Stream Machines
The Thames & Kosmos Air-Stream Machines kit is the perfect antidote for curious kids who always want to know how things work. Put together one of the various hovercraft model configurations and run one of the 10 suggested experiments. Each experiment is rated on an easy, medium or hard scale and offers easy-to-follow instructions. Included in the 32-page manual are different examples of the real-life versions of the models that are being built. You can never go wrong with learning made fun.
Disruptus by Funnybone Toys
Opening young minds while they’re still pliable can be a really great thing, and with Disruptus, it can be really fun, too! This game, for one or more players ages 10 and older, starts with the roll of a die. One of four commands—create, improve, transform or disrupt—dictates the next move. Flip over a card and do as the dice tells you: create a new object from two shown on the cards (ex. Rope and a motorcycle), improve the object that is on the cards, transform it, or disrupt it, which means to take an object and come up with a new job for it. Simple yet creative is the name of the game.
Old-school Nerf takes on a 21st-Century twist with Nerf Cyberhoop. Download the Cyberhoop app, set up the goal, and get down to business. Whether it’s a dunking contest or a straight-up shoot-out, the Nerf Cyberhoop can keep score as you play with friends in the same room or on the other side of the world. Record your action on an iPhone, iPad or iPod, and the Cyberhoop will throw together a highlight reel that can be shared via Facebook or YouTube (if the child is old enough or allowed to, of course!). The longer you play and the better you get, the more street cred you get as you climb the ranks from rookie to legend. It’s like the big leagues sans bling.
Logitech Keyboard Folio for iPad
Got a kid who pecks away at the iPad touchscreen morning, noon and night? Bring a little QWERTY back to his world with this fabulous keyboard/folio combo from Logitech. Compatible with second, third and fourth-gen iPads, the folio is quick to install and set up and makes laptop-like computing a cinch. A single charge of the Bluetooth keyboard can last up to three months depending on usage, and the design allows for the iPad screen to be propped at a comfortable angle for working. The stylish design comes in three colors: blue, yellow and black.
WearYourMusic.org Sterling & recycled guitar string bracelet
Is there a passionate young music lover in your home? Give her a conversation piece that’s every bit as awesome as her latest music crush. WearYourMusic.com’s instrument-inspired bracelets are made from real guitar strings and come in a variety of colors, so she can sport one, two or a few. And if her cool factor is a little higher than average, then give her a bracelet to match with a bracelet made from her favorite artist’s guitar string. You’ll get the Coolest Parent of the Year award, promise!
Hot Wheels Car Maker Playset
DIY is all the rage these days, and that includes for the kid set. Hot Wheels fans can get in on the DIY trend with this create-your-own-car set from Mattel. Drop the wax stick into the car maker. The wax melts, filling the car mold. Once cool, put your car body on one of the chassis, add some sticker to up the cool factor, and you’re ready to roll. The kit includes 11 wax sticks in a variety of colors, four car chassis, four car molds, stickers, car removal tool and the car maker. Refill packs are available and sold separately.
Alex Super Go Pogo
For the kids with energy to burn, give them something to jump for! The Super Go Pogo by Alex Toys is 7 pounds of pure adrenaline! Designed to support 88-154 pounds, this sturdier version of the classic toy lets bigger kids enjoy a shot at catching serious air in this alternative mode of transportation. The wide rubber foot is for slip prevention, while the padded frame makes holding on for dear life more comfortable than the all-metal pogo sticks from days’ past. Helmet and safety pads are not included but highly recommended.
Ultimate Ears BOOM Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
Getting great sound has never been more simple than with the Ultimate Ears BOOM Wireless Bluetooth Speaker from Logitech. Sync your mobile device to the 360-degree speaker via Bluetooth, and you’re ready to go. Listen to music, chat on the phone or watch movies on your tablet, all while enjoying premium sounds quality. With only three buttons on the entire unit—power, volume up and volume down—user-friendliness doesn’t get any easier. And if you want to take it a step further and enjoy stereo sound, sync two BOOM units via Bluetooth and you’re good to go.
SoYoung Cooler Bag
Every tween needs a little space sometimes, and the So Young cooler bag line provides just that. The hip cooler line makes bringing lunch the “in” thing to do. Parents love the ample space for packing a solid lunch for their loved ones, while the cool kids dig the bag’s rustic look and hip designs (bicycles, beets, birds, flowers and the like). A removable insulated insert makes cleaning a breeze, and the de-tachable shoulder strap allows your kid to choose the preferred carrying method: messenger style or clutch? It’s all about freedom of choice, don’t you know. Available in a variety of pattern options.