It's an age when children are developing their physical skills and social identities, and some may start to identify as “athletic” or "artistic," said Dr. Amanda Gummer, founder of Fundamentally Children, a toy testing and parent consulting company in the United Kingdom.
At the same time, 8-year-olds are becoming more physically adept, independent and sophisticated in their problem-solving. Imaginative play may now stretch over days or weeks and involve friends.
That means they’re ready for more complicated games and middle-grade novels, along with graphic novels and picture books. And as their writing and drawing skills improve, they'll want plenty of time with their own notebooks.
Best gifts for 8-year-olds
This journal has an interactive pop-it cover to keep kids entertained, even when they're stumped about what to draw or write next.
Pair a special notebook with these scented pencils from Scentco. They’re made from recycled newspaper, and the scent can last for up to two years.
Adorable pom-pom pets are great for keeping and trading with friends. Kids can make their own furry friends using this kit and a fork from the kitchen.
Sports equipment lets kids engage in competition, which is important at this age. "Learning to lose and win is an important skill to gain," Gummer said.
Get your gamer out of the chair with Nintendo Switch versions of volleyball, soccer, tennis, swordplay and more that react to a child’s movements as they swing and kick. Accessories shaped like rackets or swords can make this even more life-like.
A standard science lab gets a virtual twist with VR goggles included to help kids visualize what they're learning from the included book.
Your 8-year-old is developing an artistic eye and may want to capture special moments and friends. Satisfy your photographer-in-training with this retro-inspired instant camera from FujiFilm.
Best toys for 8-year-olds
The Rubiks Cube gets a tech update with the “Phantom” model, which responds to touch to temporarily reveal each square’s color — then fades to black again. Can your brainy 8-year-old solve it in time? Or choose the original or an easier 2-by-2 cube, depending on the child's tolerance for frustration.
Abracadabra! Eight-year-olds are developing the memory and fine motor skills needed to pull off magic tricks, making this gift perfect for your Houdini wannabe.
Inspire them to get crafty in the kitchen with this set that comes with a mini whisk, mini spatula and a cooking card game.
While "Harry Potter" fans can't have a full-size magical trunk of their own, they'll have a blast putting together this small Lego version. It has over 600 pieces, including the perfect accessories to fill the trunk: potions, a cauldron and a potion-making book.
This year’s hottest toys seem to revolve around e-pets that children can take care of. Less mess, right? In case you haven’t heard, Tamagotchi’s are back — this time with interactive features so players from across the world can play together. This toy still remains portable and on-the-go, this time in a wearable wristwatch design rather than a keychain.
Best arts and crafts for 8-year-olds
Making cute erasers is an unusual craft activity for young sculptors. Plus it has a useful end product — erasers to use for writing and art projects.
Spirograph is a classic toy for a reason. Spinning pens through gears creates beautiful patterns that make hours of mesmerizing fun. With this 3D update, designs jump off the page. Special design pads, blue and red pens and 3D glasses give depth to traditional Spirograph designs.
Add water to these markers for a traditional watercolor effect, or use them like a regular brush marker without water.
Teach them to celebrate all of their best qualities while nurturing creativity with this craft kit. By the end, they'll have décor they can proudly hang up and an encouraging reminder whenever they look at it.
Crafty kids can learn to crochet with this fun kit that makes the lifelong skill accessible for beginners. They'll create their own cuddly penguin, and if they need help, they have access to video tutorials and virtual crochet office hours.
For the kid who wants to make their own toy, this 3D printer is as simple as using an app. Kids can choose from more than 4,000 toys in the digital catalog, allowing them to print anything from their favorite Marvel character to musical instruments. Better yet, they can design their own toys in the app, or upload their own designs to help their imaginations come to life.
Best games for 8-year-olds
Many parents can relate to the feeling of unwrapping a new Super Mario Bros. video game during the holidays, and why wouldn't you want to pass that tradition on?
The new feature with this edition are called wonder flowers. Simply come in contact with one and a whole new wonder world opens up for you to get through, where mysterious things can happen, such as character changes, unsuspecting enemies or newly alive pipes and more.
This gift will make either a great starter pack for the young fan looking to start their collection, or it can add to a Pokemon fanatic's growing set.
With 151 cards to collect or trade, this game set also includes instructions on how to dissect each card, as well as dice and everything they could need to keep their collection in mint condition: from sleeves to dividers.
Improve their critical thinking and problem-solving skills with this game that features more than 200 brain-teasing challenges. Starting with shapes in place, a child must figure out how to fill in the rest of the puzzle.
In each round of this debate-driven game, a "judge" puts out a card with a description (say, "sticky") and each player looks at their hand to find an answer that makes the most sense. Kids judge the best answers, making for lively discussions that will be fun for years to come.
Families compete to make the best meme in this game that provides 65 funny photo prompts and 300 cards with captions that may or may not make sense with the photos. Each player offers a card to "caption" the photo, and a judge decides on the winner. Funniest answer wins.
This dodgeball card game will be fun for the entire family. Try to find matching pairs of cards all while dodging and throwing squishy burritos.
The shape-shifting Shashibo puzzle is a bestseller, with millions sold in 2022. Now, it turns into a game to see who can create a shape faster. The game comes with two matching special-edition Shashibo magnetic puzzle cubes and a deck of cards with shapes to recreate. If they have trouble, each card has a QR code that links to an instructional video.
Best STEM and educational toys for 8-year-olds
If they're not yet ready for a real-life pet, gift them with this electronic one that still responds to them with movements, sounds and lights. Download the MINTiD app and create profiles for each member of the family, so they can share in all the fun as well.
Science is beautiful with this crystal growing kit. It's a favorite of Marie Conti, head of The Wetherill School in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, and a board member of the American Montessori Society.
Little inventors can make their own robots with this STEM kit that will appeal to tech lovers and Lego lovers alike. Using bricks and papercraft, they'll get a kick out of building their own kinetic creatures while learning about engineering along the way.
Your little scientist can make soaps and bath bombs, all while learning the basics of chemistry.
What kid doesn't love bubbles? Now, they can make their own in different shapes and strengths (yes, strengths).
This golf ball-sized robot lights up and can navigate obstacle courses, thanks to a gyroscope and accelerometer that make it easy to drive and code with a free app. Your 8-year-old can learn serious coding and have fun doing it with Sphero, which was a hit on TikTok.
This rock polishing kit turns rocks into beautiful gemstones that they can proudly display or turn into jewelry.
Active toys for 8-year-olds
Ring in the holiday fun with this jolly dash blaster that's perfect for reunions between young cousins. Plus, it's an ideal stocking stuffer under $10.
Up for a water fight? Perfect for the summer lover who spends the majority of the season playing outside, you can fill up to 100 self-sealing water balloons in less than a minute, according to the brand.
A tech-forward update on the classic Frisbee, this bestselling rechargeable disc stays lit up to 90 minutes on a single charge and comes in a dozen different colorful options.
This all-in-one table tennis set makes any table a place for ping-pong. Attach the net to play in your dining room or on a flat outdoor table for a game that will have them exercising as they strategize. No need to commit to a full table in the basement — this set is easily packed up to stash away, bring to a friend’s house or even on vacation. Choose between two- and four-paddle sets.
Pickleball is having a moment, and this set lets the whole family get in on the action, with two adult paddles and two paddles sized for kids 12 and under. It's a fun physical activity the family can enjoy together.
Best dolls for 8-year-olds
These dolls can be styled in any number of ways and are more anatomically realistic.
They won't be able to take their eyes off of this color-changing Barbie that comes with surprises from head to toe.
Your 8-year-old's dolls just got an upgrade with this remote control-car that will turn your kiddo into a princess's chauffeur. Whether they prefer indoor or outdoor play, your child can drive their dolls forward, backward and in circles.
For "Harry Potter" fans, American Girls can cross the pond and put on a Hogwarts uniform. Accessorize with the trunk that includes a wand (of course), an owl, a chocolate frog and other wizarding essentials. (Doll not included.)
Each year, the new American Girl tops many wish lists. The latest American Girl, Claudie Wells, is growing up in Harlem of the 1920s surrounded by writers, artists and musicians.
Best books for 8-year-olds
This vocabulary-building book introduces wacky words and their meanings — perfect for breaking from the worksheet and making language fun.
What’s it like to try out for the cheerleading squad in front of the whole school when you’re not exactly popular? Christina Soontornvat shares her true story, full of relatable details the kids might call “cringe.”
Graphic novels are a great tool for developing readers as they use pictures to boost comprehension. "It engages literacy in a different way. All reading is good reading," said Lindsay.
The latest book in this Read with Jenna Junior favorite series has the Harlem-based family on a road trip across the country. (Those new to the series can start at the beginning with “The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street.” )
"When kids find a series they like, that’s something they can practice with," said Nina Lindsay, president of the Association for Library Service to Children.
Budding witchlings must find their covens and work together to save their magic in this new fantasy that will appeal to fans of “Harry Potter.”
A child who has trouble talking to humans finds a companion in an abandoned snow leopard in this novel for fans of “Pax” and “The One and Only Ivan.”
This fun graphic novel-style book is a primer on how to spot “fake news” and disinformation, an important lesson for kids consuming YouTube or other sources of strange “facts.”
This bestselling series is now a Disney+ series in its second season, so readers can instantly see the screen adaptation.
The graphic novel adaptations of the beloved “Baby-Sitters Club” series is catnip for young readers. In this 11th book of the series, Stacey is saying good-bye, leaving the club wondering how they can go on without her.
Don’t forget to check out Shop TODAY’s other gift guides to find the perfect present for every kid in your life including babies, 1-year-olds, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds, 6-year-olds, 7-year-olds, 9-year-olds and 10-year-olds.