It can be tempting to stick with things you already know your 6-year-old is interested in. Yet there’s value in introducing your child to new passions, as well as in encouraging preexisting ones, said John Tenuto, a sociology instructor at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois, who has studied toys and collectibles. (Tenuto was also a featured expert on the Netflix series The Toys That Made Us). For example, a child who loves craft projects may enjoy building a robot; a budding scientist may like to try their hand at gardening.
At this age, typically developing kids are increasingly able to follow instructions and manipulate more-complex materials. So try projects and kits that 6-year-olds can work on independently or with friends (likely with an adult nearby). Being able to complete a project on their own—even if they make a mess or skip a step along the way—can help them develop resilience and confidence. Six-year-olds are often also ready for a variety of board games that require some skill and patience and that challenge them to follow more-complicated rules. And kids this age still need plenty of open-ended play, exercise, and silliness, so toys that get them moving, dancing, or using their imagination are also good choices.
To identify memorable and engaging gifts for 6-year-olds, we considered advice from Tenuto and other experts, as well as the collective experience of parents and other caregivers on our staff. If you’re looking for more kids gift ideas, check out our guides to the best gifts for 1-year-olds, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds, 7-year-olds, 8-year-olds, 9-year-olds, and 10-year-olds, as well as wonderful stocking stuffers for kids. We also have guides to gifts for tweens and teens. (Just keep in mind that kids develop at different rates, so all age recommendations should be taken with a grain of salt.) And be sure to share your own best ideas in the comments below.