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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. If you are looking for a toy for a curious, gifted child in your life, you have the additional task of choosing something that will keep them challenged. What's a gift that will keep them thinking hard while still having fun?
We're here to help. From puzzles to robot kits and beyond, we've rounded up a few of our favorite toys that any gifted child will spend hours and hours—and hopefully a few more hours—playing. As you're browsing, consider each pick's recommended age, safety, and educational value.
Below, find our picks for the best toys for gifted children.
Educational Insights Kanoodle Extreme
This top-rated board game challenges kids to solve more than 300 challenging puzzles in 2D, 3D, and even sliding 2D configurations. All you have to do is set up the puzzle and place the remaining pieces, but the more complex arrangements will leave you scratching your brain! It’s a great exercise in spatial awareness and critical thinking.
Renegade Game Studios Architects of the West Kingdom
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.
SmartGames IQ Blox
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
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.
SmartMax Start XL
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. The pieces easily stick together, and they’re big enough for little hands to hold comfortably.
Dalton Labs Molecular Model Kit
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.
Robobloq Robot Kit
Coding is an in-demand skill right now, and gifted kids will have a blast learning real programming skills with this robot kit. They can build the robot six different ways, then control it using drag-and-drop programming on the associated app, making their creation play music, avoid obstacles, and more.
Winning Moves Rubik’s Cube
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.
ROBOTIME 3D Puzzle Music Box Craft Kit
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.
Think Fun Rush Hour Shift
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!
Plan B Azul Board Game
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
Smithsonian Motor-Works Advanced Science Kit
Older children (8 and up) 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
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
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.
What to Look for in Toys for Gifted Children
Most toys come with a recommended age. This can be due to safety concerns or just 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.
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 can be as great for learning as they are for fun. If you want a toy that is educational, look for one that can teach your child a new fact or skill. Board games that incorporate trivia, history, or science are great options. STEM toys are specifically designed to incorporate science, technology, engineering, and math into play.
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.
“Don’t just use YouTube," he says. "How do you edit the video and make it better? How can you use the various tools? How can you make your own story?"
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 Megan McCarty, a writer for The Spruce and MyDomaine with more than 13 years of experience in both print and digital media. She regularly contributes to design-focused outlets such as Architectural Digest, Domino, House & Home, and Hunker.