Ten-year-olds fall into that notoriously tough-to-shop-for tween category, but there are still tons of toy options that will positively delight them (and plenty that they won’t realize are educational). At this social age, they’re learning to be more strategic and problem-solve.
“They’re also constantly curious and are interested in trying new activities that’ll allow a feeling of mastery and success,” says Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a New York City-based neuropsychologist, school psychologist, and director of Comprehend the Mind. While toys that can help them improve their language and communication skills are especially great, Dr. Hafeez also recommends doing at-home science experiments, building something together, and playing brain games, like puzzles, which can “improve their memory, attention, and cognitive thinking.”
We researched the best toys that’ll help your child do all of that and more, keeping in mind their recommended age, safety features, educational value, and of course, fun factor. Our top pick is a popular STEM toy, the Be Amazing! Toys Big Bag of Science Works, which includes over 65 engaging experiments, clear instructions, and nearly endless entertainment value.
Here are the best toys for 10-year-olds.
Be Amazing Toys Big Bag Of Science
Supplies are durable
Hours of entertainment
Experiments can get messy but, hey, that’s science
According to one Spruce tester, this was a “thoughtfully designed kit” that comes with over 65 science projects that are super engaging. They note that the experiments aren’t so challenging that your child won’t be able to entertain themselves if you’re not there. Projects include fashioning a soda geyser, making quicksand, or creating a rainbow in a tube.
Exploding Kittens LLC Exploding Kittens Card Game
Simple to learn
No setup needed
May encourage aggressive behavior
This silly, super fun two-to-five-player card game will engross the entire family (parents included) while also putting a 10-year-old’s strategic thinking skills to the test. At just under $20, it makes a great inexpensive gift for a pre-teen.
Good-natured fun for practically all ages
Simple to learn
You need at least 4 players
The supplied dry erase pens can run out
Voted one of the best family games by our reviewers, while the manufacturer says Telestrations is particularly suited for those 12 and up, this convivial marriage of telephone and Pictionary will be fun for 10-years-olds as well—particularly those looking for a hilarious activity to pass the time with up to eight of their friends.
Hasbro Jenga Maker
The set includes beginner and advanced builds
Noisy and messy
An exciting twist on the classic game of Jenga, in this version, a player pulls a card with a description of what the tower should look like, and their teammate races against others to build the structure based only on the instructions from their partner. Not only does it foster communication and cooperation, but it’s also downright fun.
STMT DIY Crystal Terrarium
Simple enough for a 10-year-old to assemble alone
Good quality for the price
Some reviewers complained that the plant is plastic
Crystals are having a major moment right now, especially when it comes to home decorating. Help your 10-year-old get in on the trend with this DIY hanging garden kit. It includes colorful gemstones, rocks, sand, and an amethyst that they can style however they like, plus lavender and lemon essential oils. When the craft is complete, they’ll have a pretty terrarium to display in their bedroom or over their homework space.
Cool Maker Sew Cool Sewing Machine
Because the machine doesn’t use a needle, it’s safe for kids to use alone
The cute projects on are on trend
You can’t purchase refill kits through Cool Maker, but reviewers say any felt works
If you wish you’d paid more attention in home ec, here’s your chance to live vicariously through your 10-year-old. This needle-and-thread-free sewing machine comes with supplies to make five projects (like a rainbow marker holder, a stuffed rose, and a cute pouch), which all have oh-so-popular ’90s motifs. It also makes for a fantastic present for their most creative friends.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera
Comes in a variety of colors
Easy to use
Film is sold separately, and is a bit pricey
Picture quality can vary based on lighting
With a one-touch selfie mode and a shutter that automatically adjusts for optimal lighting, your child can get creative photographing the world around them—without having to wait long to see the results. Within minutes, they’ll have pictures they can display on their wall, in their scrapbooks, or swap with friends.
eatsleepdoodle Doodle World Map Pillowcase
The illustration makes coloring interesting
After a few washes, the color can stain
The tiny designs can be difficult to color
This craft comes with a sneaky side of education, offering hours of entertainment for the child who loves to color (and learn!). The famous global landmarks are marked, but the continents aren’t labeled, so when curiosity spikes, they’ll be inspired to research what they’re drawing, and they can write their own notes. Then, when they’re done, after a warm water wash, they’ll have a black-and-white canvas to fill in again, which means they won’t have to worry about precision the first—or seventh—time around. Our tester, who gave this product a 5-star review, said it’s also comfortable enough for your child to actually sleep on. Don’t you just love functional art?
Snap Circuits Jr. Electronics Exploration Kit
Unique STEM toy
Simple to set up and store
Encourages problem solving
Our tester gave this educational kit excellent marks for including more than 100 unique projects that allow your child to build circuits to create a flashing light, a voice-controlled lamp, and more, using a handy plastic grid. “This STEM toy inspired creativity, encouraged problem-solving, and kept our kids busy for hours,” our testers said.
Beadery Wonder Loom: The Ultimate Loom for Making Rubber Band Bracelets
The bands can snap
A highly enjoyable rainy day activity for any crafty kid, your child can make rainbow-colored friendship bracelets for everyone they know—including you. And what’s better than a little arm candy designed by your own 10-year-old? The $10 kit comes with 600 latex-free rubber bands, 24 C-clips, and clear instructions.
Nintendo Switch OLED Model
Great screen quality
Countless game options (sold separately)
More expensive than the original for the screen improvements, though reviewers say it runs the same
One of our top tech gift picks, the Nintendo Switch doubles as both a handheld system, or you can connect it to the TV so family and friends can get in on the fun. Choose from role-playing games like Pokemon Diamond, trivia, old-school Mario classics you’ll remember from when you were their age, and countless puzzles and other brain games that’ll challenge them to think critically, such as Pikmin 3 Deluxe.
LEGO Star Wars: The Mandalorian, The Child Building Kit
Good for collaboration
Only takes a few hours to complete
Bring the Child to life with this adorable 1,073-piece Star Wars LEGO set that includes a head you can pose, plus an adjustable mouth and ears. You can team up with your child for a fun activity to share, though reviewers say that the instructions are clear enough for a 10-year-old to follow.
Original Stationery Galaxy Slime Making Kit
Contains fun glow powder
The kit has a variety of different projects
Some reviewers say instructions aren’t accurate
Not only is making slime a fantastic sensory activity that’s a great way to teach your kids about polymers, but it’s also always fun to get a bit messy. Of course, you could go the DIY route, but the beauty of this kit is that it supplies all of the ingredients you need to create 25 pieces of sparkly, space-themed, and even glow-in-the-dark slime.
4M Crystal Growing Experimental Kit
Includes an educational fact sheet
You need to follow the instructions exactly for best results
While this science kit will teach your 10-year-old about geology, it’s also an excellent exercise in patience as they way for their seven stunning crystals to grow. The set also includes domes so they can display their creations.
Singing Machine SML385BTBK Bluetooth Karaoke System
Easy Bluetooth connectivity
LED disco light
Volume is soft
Dr. Hafeez says that “learning to play an instrument can encourage a child's growth,” and of course, the voice is an instrument. We rated this one of the top karaoke machines for kids because you can easily connect it to your TV or smartphone to watch the lyrics stream, and it has exciting features like a light-up speaker. Users noted that the music can be quiet, but unless you happen to have a soundproof room for your budding pop star to belt in, that could be considered a good thing.
STMT DIY Journaling Set
Helps foster creative writing skills
Doesn’t come with writing prompts
At 10 years old, children are becoming more expressive, and a diary can help them improve their writing skills, says Dr. Hafeez. This DIY journaling set will allow them to tap into their creative side before they even put pen to paper thanks to the stickers, gems, frames, and other decorative elements that’ll come together to create a 70-sheet, totally personalized notebook.
Cynlink Astro Alan Galaxy Projector Cynlink Astro Alan Galaxy Projector
Has a sleep timer
Easy to assemble
Some users say the nebula is too bright even on the lowest settings
Although this personal planetarium—which comes in the form of an adorable astronaut—is recommended for kids, adults looking for an intergalactic escape will also enjoy the soothing, rotating projections it casts. Choose from a variety of nebula colors and brightness levels to let your child’s imagination soar.
Purple Ladybug Decorate Your Own Water Bottle Craft Kit
Bottle is not insulated
They’re never too young to learn the importance of hydration. This craft kit comes packed with seven sheets of rhinestone stickers, plus a DIY paracord bracelet kit, so they can proudly hit the water fountain in style.
Djubi Slingball Classic
Great for the beach
Some skill is required
Ball can be painful if it hits you directly
A more dynamic spin on the game of catch, the Djubi SlingBall Classic, which combines two unique rackets with nets, allows players to test their tossing and foam ball launching skills. Since the balls can fly up to 125 feet, meaning you’ll be doing some quick pivoting, it’s a fun way for kids (and adults) to sneak in some exercise.
FIGROL Pop Simple Fidget Spinner 3 Pack
Combines a spinner with a pop-it
Some users say they “look cheap”
You know how satisfying popping bubble wrap can be? Think of this toy as a never-ending roll. Said to be a calming tool, fidget spinners are massively popular among 10-year-olds and this set comes in pretty metallic tones—perfect if your child is trading them with friends.
5 Surprise Disney Mini Brands by ZURU
Fun to trade with friends
Surprise element is engaging for parents as well
Can lead to disappointment if a child doesn’t get the mini they were hoping for
Of course these tiny Disney character replicas all have their own backstories, but kids can use their imaginations when they play with these joyful minis that are popular on TikTok.
Klutz LEGO Make Your Own Movie Activity Kit
Encourages creative thinking
Doesn’t come with an app
Introduce your 10-year-old to the whimsical world of stop-motion animation (if they haven’t already been indoctrinated) with this LEGO make-your-own-movie kit that comes with hyper-detailed instructions to get them started, plus several figures, props, and backgrounds to help them set the scenes.
Winning Moves Games No Stress Chess
Good for beginners to learn movements
If players rely on the cards, the game becomes less strategic
The ultimate time-honored strategy game, this Spruce-approved beginner’s chess set features handy teaching tools like “action cards” to help guide players along the way.
ThinkFun Gravity Maze
Can be played alone or with friends
Helps develop strategic thinking skills
Some users say it’s difficult to store
Puzzles and other toys that stimulate cognitive and strategic thinking are encouraged for this age range, says Dr. Hafeez, and this logic game will challenge your 10-year-old to crack each of the 60 mazes. We especially like that this set comes with multi-level challenges, from beginner to expert.
Hasbro Gaming Rubik’s Cube
The colors are painted on vs. peel off stickers like other models
Some users note that turning speed can initially be slow
There’s a reason this smart toy has been popular since the ’80s: with 43 quintillion possible moves, the classic three-by-three cube provides endless entertainment (and, err, maybe frustration). This version comes with a stand, so when your child solves the almighty puzzle, they can display their work.
What to Look for in Toys for a 10-Year-Old
When you’re shopping for someone in the tween category, it’s especially helpful to check the recommended age guidelines, but it’s also always wise to follow their lead and watch what they’re actually excited to engage with.
“As a parent, you want to give them the means to blossom into a more skillful and deep-thinking mini-adult,” Dr. Hafeez says. "Rather than buying that hyped-up product in the toy store, understand what specific interests spark your child, and buy them a toy to foster those."
This is a year of exploration and testing the limits of their independence, but they still need parental support. Before you set your 10-year-old free with a new toy, chat with them about any potential safety concerns (read: remind them to wash their hands after mixing the chemicals that come with their cool new science experiment set). If you’re gifting them an active toy, make sure they’re armed with all of the necessary protective equipment like helmets and goggles, too.
Ten-year-olds can be exceptionally social, says Marissa Silva, editor in chief of The Toy Insider. “They love to interact with their peers in person and online, and toys and games that will help them further these relationships will be surefire hits.” Consider multi-player board games that are geared to big groups, outdoor toys, and “anything that will spark a laugh.”
At this age, while 10-year-olds develop their social-emotional intelligence and strategic thinking skills, toys that encourage problem-solving and creative thinking (like Gravity Maze or The Big Bag of Science Set) will also be beneficial, adds Silva. In short, any toy that teaches them about teamwork or helps inspire meaningful moments with their peers is a great option.
How much should you spend on a gift for 10-year-olds?
“The decision about how much to spend on a child’s gift will vary widely from family to family, based on things like financial circumstances, the nature of the relationship with the birthday child, and the possible desire to reciprocate for another family’s generosity,” says etiquette experts and co-authors of Modern Manners for Moms & Dads: Practical Parenting Solutions for Sticky Social Situation, Dr. Sarah Davis and Evie Granville, M.Ed. However, they say that an appropriate range for most families in most circumstances is somewhere between $15 and $40 for this age.
What’s an age-appropriate gift for 10-year-olds?
A 10-year-old cares less about the price of the gift and more about how relevant it is for their current interests. Developmentally, 10-year-olds are at a point where they’re ready to level up their toys, be challenged, and remain “hands-on.” They’re also in a place of better self-awareness and are more self-assured about what they like and don’t like. Do your homework and ask about their interests. Safe bets are trendy accessories or gifts that double as activities.
What kind of toys do 10-year-olds like?
Ten-year-olds love any toy that will keep them active and engaged for a period of time. Whether that’s a scooter they can ride around outside after school or a STEM kit that challenges them to develop new skills, this age group is all about channeling their energy into fun and diverse activities.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Brie Schwartz, who has been a lifestyle editor and writer for 15 years. She tapped a school psychologist who specializes in neuropsychological development, testers, reviewers, and—who better—actual 10-year-olds to recommend and vet all of the toys on this list. Most of the products here offer educational value, many can be enjoyed solo, or with friends—and yes, parents—and most importantly, they all earned high praise for being seriously entertaining.