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Let's get creative! 36 great gifts for 8-year-olds, from DIY kits to drawing games

Your third grader will love these shopper-approved presents.
8 year old gift guide
TODAY Illustration / Walmart / Target
/ Source: TODAY

The best gifts for 8-year-olds help them engage in elaborate fantasy play or bury their noses in good books.

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.

To quickly jump to the category you're looking for, click on the links below or keep scrolling to see all 36.

Bestselling gifts for 8-year-olds

Klutz Lego Make Your Own Movie Kit

Make your own movie with this kit that will appeal to storytellers and Lego lovers alike.

Klutz Make Your Own Mini Erasers

This fun crafting activity has a useful end product — erasers to use for writing and art projects.

Bill Nye's VR Space Lab

A standard science lab gets a virtual twist with VR goggles included to help kids visualize what they're learning from the included book.

4M Crystal Growing Experiment

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.

Pictionary Air

The classic game got a modern update with a pen that sketches through the air.

Best toys for 8-year-olds

Force1 Scoot XL

The Force1 Scoot XL Drone responds to hand movements instead of a remote and helps develop hand-eye coordination.

FujiFilm Instax Mini Instant Camera

Satisfy your photographer-in-training with this retro-inspired instant camera from FujiFilm.

Lego Creator 3-in-1 Townhouse

These Lego kits let kids build, take apart and rebuild into something else for more creative play. This kit can be a toy store, flower shop or bakery.

Rubik's Cube

The puzzle cube is making a comeback. Choose between the original or an easier 2-by-2 cube, depending on the child's tolerance for frustration.

Super Joy Over the Door Hoop

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.

Creatable World Deluxe Customizable Doll Character Kit

Looking for a Barbie without the baggage? These dolls can be styled in any number of ways and are more anatomically realistic.

American Girl Evette Doll

Evette is one of the newest American Girl dolls, and she and her friends Maritza and Makena are devoted to causes like cleaning up the environment and social justice.

Ideal Magic Suitcase

8-year-olds are developing the memory and fine motor skills needed to pull off magic tricks, making this gift perfect for your Houdini wannabe.

Best games for 8-year-olds

Project Genius Chroma Cube

This beautiful brain teaser and logic game gives clues on puzzle cards to determine how the blocks should be arranged.

What Do You Meme? Family Edition

Families compete to make the best meme in this game that provides funny photos and lets kids select the captions. Funniest answer wins.

Kanoodle

Improve their critical thinking and problem-solving skills with this game that features more than 200 brain-teasing challenges.

Throw Throw Burrito

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.

Apples to Apples Junior

This game lets kids judge the best answers from their own cards, making for lively discussions that will be fun for years to come.

Best arts and crafts for 8-year-olds

Mini Pom-Pom Pets

Kids can make their own furry friends using this kit and a fork from the kitchen.

Ooly Chroma Blends Watercolor Brush Markers

Add water to these markers for a traditional watercolor effect, or use them like a regular brush marker without water.

Sweetheart Smencils

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.

Thames & Kosmos Ooze Labs: Soap & Bath Bomb Lab Science Experiment Kit

Your little scientist can make soaps and bath bombs, all while learning the basics of chemistry.

National Geographic Hobby Rock Tumbler Kit

This rock polishing kit turns rocks into beautiful gemstones that they can proudly display or turn into jewelry.

Best books for 8-year-olds

"A Tale Dark and Grimm" Boxed Set

This kid-favorite series, now a boxed set, features favorite fairy tale characters as they embark on frightening and funny new adventures.

"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.

"Friends Forever," by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

The graphic novel from the creators of "Real Friends" and "Best Friends" is all about learning to love yourself, insecurities and all.

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.

"Black Boy Joy," edited by Kwame Mbalia

This anthology from the creator of "Tristan Strong Keeps Punching" celebrates black boyhood with stories from 17 different creators, including Jason Reynolds and Jerry Craft.

"Starfish," by Lisa Fipps

Ellie is bullied about her weight and decides to do something about it in this novel-in-verse that takes on fat shaming.

"Pax: Journey Home," by Sara Pennypacker and Jon Klassen

After a year of separation, Peter and his pet fox, Pax, find themselves on a journey that will bring them together again.

"Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Big Shot," by Jeff Kinney

In the new "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," the decidedly un-athletic Greg Heffley signs up for basketball.

"Survivor Tree," by Marcie Colleen and Aaron Becker

This beautiful book introduces the history of Sept. 11 in the most gentle way, through the tree that survived against all odds. The story of survival and resilience will warm hearts young and old.

"I Survived" Graphic Novels Boxed Set

8-year-olds should read a mix of fiction and nonfiction. These graphic novel adaptations of Lauren Tarshis' popular "I Survived" series put kids in the middle of historical events, including the sinking of the Titanic and 9/11.

"The Last Kids on Earth and the Doomsday Race," by Max Brailler

This bestselling book series is also a Netflix series, a line of toys and a video game.

"The Cardboard Kingdom: Roar of the Beast," by Chad Sell

In this sequel to "The Cardboard Kingdom," a new monster is in town, and the Monster Mashers will do anything to protect the kingdom.

"Flight of the Puffin," by Ann Braden

A small act of kindness ripples through many lives across the country in this sweet novel.

"Sleuth & Solve: Spooky," by Ana Gallo and Victor Escandell

This follow-up to "Sleuth and Solve: History" and "Sleuth and Solve: 20+ Mind-Bending Mysteries" puts your 8-year-old's sleuthing skills to the test with fun logic puzzles involving creepy mysteries.

"Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day"

Kids will enjoy stretching their vocabularies with a daily word and information on its origin and meaning.

Don’t forget to check out Shop TODAY’s other gift guides to find the perfect present for every kid on your list including babies, 1-year-olds, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds, 6-year-olds, 7-year-olds, 8-year-olds and 10-year-olds.