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All children have very active minds, so toys that engage their imagination (and give their parents a moment of peace) are always a sure bet as a successful present.
We researched the best picks for gifted children from puzzles to robot kits, considering each pick's recommended age, safety features, and educational value. Based on our research, Educational Insight's Kanoodle took our top spot. Kids work to solve over 300 puzzles in this educational and engaging game.
Below, find our picks for the best toys for gifted and intelligent children.
Educational Insights Kanoodle Extreme
Fun and challenging
Suitable for various ages
Long play time
This top-rated board game challenges kids to solve more than 300 challenging puzzles in 2D, 3D, and even sliding 2D configurations, earning it our top spot. The challenges vary by difficulty, so younger kids have a stake in the game, while older children can enjoy an increasingly difficult challenge as they go, making this option suitable for various ages.
All you have to do is set up the puzzle and place the remaining pieces into the puzzle, but the more complex arrangements will leave you scratching your brain! It’s a great exercise in spatial awareness and critical thinking.
The box is small and portable, which makes it perfect for taking on roadtrips and vacations, but reviewers noted it is best played on a flat surface. While there are four levels to choose from, be sure to choose the one appropriate for the age of your child to avoid frustration.
SmartGames IQ Blox
Tons of challenges
Requires critical thinking and concentration
Reviewers wish the pieces had magnets to stick to the board when not playing on a flat surface
This compact game is perfect for kids to play in the car. The goal is to fill in the game board with the colorful pieces, working around the “walls” on the board. IQ Blox comes with 120 challenges and for hours of engagement.
Puzzle Baron's Logic Puzzles
Suitable for groups or solo play
Puzzles increase in difficulty
Promotes problem solving
May be too easy for older kids
Puzzle Baron’s Logic Puzzles book is filled with more than 200 logic-based challenges. You’re given a backstory and list of clues, then left to deduce the correct answer—you can even increase the challenge by recording your completion time and comparing it to the average, which is listed on their website.
Renegade Game Studios Architects of the West Kingdom
Easy to follow instructions
Quick pace makes for short games
Architects of the West Kingdom is a hit with board game lovers. This board game requires strategy as you play a royal architect, helping to build the Carolingian Empire. You can construct buildings and work on the cathedral, but you’re also forced to make moral choices that can help (or hurt) at the end of the game. It can even be played in solo mode.
SmartMax Start XL
Perfect for toddlers
Children ages 3 and up will have tons of fun with this magnetic construction kit. It comes with 18 short bars, 12 long bars, and 12 magnetic balls that toddlers can use to create all sorts of designs in this STEM-based activity. The pieces easily stick together, and they’re big enough for little hands to hold comfortably.
Dalton Labs Molecular Model Kit
Suitable for elementary age to college students
Informational manual included
Some reviewers wished there were more pieces in more colors
This chemistry model kit is ideal for kids who love science. It includes 178 pieces that they can use to create 3D models of molecules and help visualize atomic structures. This fun kit will come in handy all throughout their schooling—even college students may find it helpful.
Think Fun Rush Hour Shift
Teaches patience and problem solving
Fun and challenging
Expansion packs available
Some reviewers found it better as a one-player game
This is a twist on the best-selling logic game Rush Hour, reconfigured for two players. You’ll take turns moving cars on the board according to the cards in your hand, trying to get your Hero Car across the board first. Work quickly before the grid shifts, though!
ROBOTIME 3D Puzzle Music Box Craft Kit
Easy to follow directions and assemble robot
Can enjoy finished product for years to come
Need batteries for music box
With this wooden craft kit, children can build Orpheus, a robot-shaped music box that plays a tune and lights up. The kit takes about five hours to complete for those who are new to model construction, and the company offers a wide variety of other 3D model kits, too.
Winning Moves Rubik’s Cube
Suitable for various ages
No stickers that peel off like other models
Some reviewers had difficulty turning the cube right out of the box
The Rubik’s Cube is an iconic toy that’s perfect for gifted kids. This colorful puzzle is a 3-inch cube with twisting sides and the goal is to have each side a solid color—however, it’s a lot trickier than it seems with 43 quintillion possible moves. This particular model comes with a stand, as well, so kids can display the completed puzzle.
Plan B Azul Board Game
Easy to learn
Sturdy and well made pieces
Game board design can be a bit confusing at first
Azul is a strategy-based game with beautiful, brightly colored tiles. The whole premise is to place your collected tiles on the board in specific patterns to earn points while trying to stop your opponents from getting points, and it can get quite competitive as everyone tries to outwit their opponents.
Sphero BOLT App-Enabled Robot
Suitable for beginners
May be difficult to pair to the app at first
Smithsonian Motor-Works Advanced Science Kit
Teaches engineering skills
Easy to follow instructions
Keeps kids engaged for hours
Some reviewers reported receiving incorrect parts
Older children who are interested in science, engineering, and cars will relish the chance to build their very own four-cylinder engine. This STEM-focused kit includes everything needed to build a motor, including spark plugs, pistons, and more.
Snap Circuits Pro Electronics Exploration Kit
Tons of challenges to keep them engaged
Lets kids experiment on their own
Some found the instructions to be lacking
This popular electronics kit lets kids learn all about circuits without the need for tools or soldering. It comes with 75+ snap-on modules that kids can arrange on the board to create real, working electrical circuits as they complete more than 500 cool projects of varying difficulty.
Blue Orange Planet Board Game
Teaches environmental awareness
Lots of strategies to explore
Impressive 3D board
Reviewers wish there were more facts involved
This award-winning board game lets you create your very own planet. Players each have a 12-sided 3D plant core, and throughout the game, you race to populate your planet with various ecosystems. It’s quick and fun to play, and Planet even won the Mensa Select award.
Ozobot Bit Coding Robot
Compatible with app
Small and quiet
There’s no better way for kids to develop STEM skills than with the cute Ozobot Bit Coding Robot. They can either draw with a marker and watch the robot follow their commands or use the app-based programming editor to write real code for their robotic friend.
What to Look for in Toys for Gifted Children
Most toys come with a recommended age. This can be due to safety concerns or the complexity of the toy or activity. Look for a toy that is geared toward your child’s age if you want them to play independently or just above their age if you want to challenge them. (Just be prepared to provide some supervision). Board games are a great way to play with your child while teaching them a new skill and developing their concentration.
Fourth-grade teacher Kelsey Kovacs explains the significance of purchasing age-appropriate toys for gifted children. "Sometimes keeping things age-appropriate is tougher for gifted children if they are seemingly more mature," she says. Still, stay around their age range to ensure a successful while still challenging toy.
It goes without saying that it's always important to make sure that your child is safe as they play. The top things to look for and consider are small parts, non-toxic materials, and required tools that may pose a pinching hazard. Toys that include electrical parts or chemical solutions should be handled with care to make sure that kids aren’t accidentally put at risk.
Toys and activities that help children create something new are excellent ways to challenge their imaginations. Chuck English, Virginia STEM Coordinator at the Science Museum of Virginia, recommends going beyond consuming media to actually creating it.
Many toys can build on specific skills or talents that gifted children already excel in. Kovacs recommends introducing a new skill through play. "Games that involve coding or designing something new allows kids to be very creative and build something from scratch," she says. "They can then apply these new skills to different concepts and continue to build on them."
What do you give gifted children?
Gifted children, with their above-average intelligence, will respond well to gifts that help them develop spatial awareness, cognitive thinking, language, and problem-solving skills. This could include anything from a Rubik’s cube to books on a range of subjects, logic puzzle games, strategic board games, science kits, or robot building kits to help them practice their coding skills. Look for toys that are age-appropriate, keeping in mind that depending on their personal rate of development, gifted children may be bored by gifts that are geared to their peer group and more suited to advanced reading materials or more challenging toys.
Kovacs recommends gifts that promote higher thinking. "Toys that specifically prompt children to use higher thinking skills and more analysis and critical problem-solving could benefit someone who is gifted," she says. Based on her own experiences, she suggests toys that have patterns and puzzles to solve. "Using memory skills and completing patterns and building on these certain skills are great to look for in toys for gifted children," she continues.
How do you entertain gifted children?
Gifted children are celebrated for their intellectual abilities, but Mensa International points out that gifted kids have other signature traits, including a propensity for idealism, experimentation, daydreaming, curiosity, sensitivity, and a talent for linking conceptual ideas. Many gifted children excel in music, art, science, language, computers, or mathematics. You can help entertain a gifted child by giving them tools that will help them to entertain themselves and to express their natural creativity and curiosity about the world. Give them opportunities for self-directed exploration and enrichment by offering them access to musical instruments, advanced reading materials, or interesting and diverse experiences that will help them to build on their natural gifts.
What is the IQ of a gifted child?
The IQ range used to identify gifted children varies from country to country and is generally rated on a sliding scale from mildly gifted (starting at about 115) to profoundly gifted (at 180). IQ testing is not an exact science and is increasingly considered just one method of determining giftedness. But the current consensus among experts is generally that children with an IQ starting at 130 are considered suitable for entry into special programs geared toward gifted kids.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written and researched by Julie Evans, a writer and editor whose work covers topics including health and wellness, parenting, and technology. Her writing has appeared on USA Today, Realtor.com, Brit + Co, and CafeMom, among others. Additional research was done by Julia Fields, a lifestyle writer for The Spruce and The Spruce Crafts, covering all things surrounding toys, gifts, crafts, and the holidays.
Expert advice was provided by fourth-grade teacher Kelsey Kovacs and Chuck English, Virginia STEM Coordinator at the Science Museum of Virginia.