Best gifts and toys for 8 year olds that they will love



uying a gift for an eight year old can be quite the challenge.

By the time they’ve hit this stage of middle childhood, kids are beginning to show more independence from their parents, investing more time in building friendships, and becoming more discerning about what they play and interact with. So, it’s worth putting in the time to pick out the perfect present – whether you’re looking for a birthday party gift or a showstopper to hide under the Christmas tree.

Developmentally, children around this age have begun to hone their coordination skills – which puts bikes, scooters, and other physical-oriented gifts firmly on the agenda. This stage also opens up a new world of games that the whole family can get involved with, from STEM-inspired puzzles to board games. Especially if you’re looking for screen-free gifts, these are a great option.

Small-world play and role-play are still important developmental tools for eight year olds, so toys and gifts that encourage creativity and spark their imagination are ideal. If you’re buying a playset themed around a TV show or film they love, though, approach with caution. Word travels quickly on the primary school playground, and last week’s Big Thing can quickly become yesterday’s news.

Tech is another area that’s bound to please, and there are some seriously cool gifts – from AI-powered robots to sleek smartwatches – that will be sure to put a smile on their face. And if you’re looking for tech-free options, craft kits, and books are always a winner with this age group.

Whatever you’re buying, always check the age recommendation on the box or packaging first. It’s not always an exact science, but it can be handy to gauge whether your gift will be deemed too babyish by its recipient. And to an eight year old, trust us: it matters.

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Bobbin Gingersnap bike 24″ Wheel


A bike is a great way to encourage an eight year old’s emerging sense of independence, and they don’t come much prettier than Bobbin’s Gingersnap.

The pastel-painted frame, brown accents, and handmade wicker basket give this kids’ bike a timeless vintage feel. And thanks to the sprung, padded saddle, calliper brakes and seven gears – it rides like a dream, too.

We found the 24-inch wheel suited our eight year old tester, but the Gingersnap is available in a range of sizes. The Bobbin team recommend sizing up if your child is between frame sizes, which will give them more room to grow. And there are similar styles in the adults’ bikes too, because twinning is – obviously – winning.

Fire In The Hole game

Fire In The Hole

This super simple game is a nice one for all ages. The aim is to shoot coloured cannonballs into the centre of a pirate ship, and the first to score four in a row wins. The option to sabotage your fellow players’ progress is where things get complicated – and rowdy – and our testers loved pillaging cards, switching cannonballs around, and generally making as much pirate-themed noise as possible in the process.

Apart from being a whole lot of fun, what sets the game apart is the beautiful pop-up gameboard and pirate ship, which is made from paper and folds away neatly. In fact, the whole thing is entirely plastic-free, biodegradable and carbon-neutral – right down to the wool-felt cannonballs and wooden dice. There really is a lot to love about it.

Sylvanian Families Pony’s Stylish Hair Salon

Sylvanian Families

Small-world play is still a key part of development at this age, and the beauty of Sylvanian Families sets is that they never go out of fashion. This Pony’s Stylish Hair Salon playset caught our tester’s attention because the little figure – Sally the Pony – has an impressive mane of long, silky hair. There are various hairdressing accessories to play with in the two-storey salon, plus lots more hirsute little characters to collect.

While these sets are never cheap, they do last from one generation to the next – which renders the price a lot more palatable. Plus, you can build up a collection over time, which makes for easy birthday and Christmas presents.

The Genius Square

The Genius Square

This clever game is a great way of building STEM skills without feeling like a school lesson. To play, you roll seven dies to position seven ‘blockers’ in corresponding squares on a grid, then race to fill in all the gaps with nine coloured shapes. There are a possible 62,208 puzzles to complete, and there’s always a solution – it’s just a case of who finds it first.

One for all ages, it can be played solo by racing against a clock, or against an opponent using the second grid. If you’re looking for a fun Zoom game to play with distant relatives it works well when played remotely, too, as long as everyone has a grid. It’s ridiculously simple but surprisingly addictive, and nice and compact if you’re travelling.

Mini U Cloud Bath Bombs

Mini U

This boxed set of three bath bombs makes a lovely gift, and as each bath bomb is individually wrapped you can also split them out to pad out larger gifts or use them as stocking fillers. Each little cloud fizzes away in the bath to leave a rainbow trail as it glides across the surface of the water, and ours drew a lot of adoring gasps at it did so.

There’s no overpowering scent or greasy film in the bath water, and we particularly like the fact that Mini U’s products are vegan, cruelty-free and free from gluten, soy, dairy, and artificial ingredients. Perfect for delicate eight year old skin.

Xplora XGO3 Smartwatch


Xplora’s new XGO3 smart watch has a step counter, GPS to track your child’s location, and call and messaging functions that will only connect with selected contacts – so it’s a good option if you’re looking for a fitness tracker with some degree of connectivity, but your child isn’t ready for a phone.

You set everything up via the Xplora guardian app on your own smartphone, and you’ll need a nano-SIM card for the watch. Xplora’s Connect Saver plan is the cheapest option and equates to £6.79 a month if you pay upfront, with unlimited calls and data. You can set it to school mode via the parent app, so there are no distractions in lessons if your child wears it to school. It’s a nice alternative to a phone that enables two-way communication without putting social media and the internet at their fingertips.

When The Sky Glows

When The Sky Glows

This beautifully illustrated book is proof that non-fiction needn’t be boring. Written by Nell Cross Beckerman, it uncovers the science behind natural wonders like volcanoes, meteors, rainbows and auroras – and anything else that makes the sky glow.

The writing hits the perfect balance between factual and poetic and is ideally pitched to this age group. But it’s David Litchfield’s otherworldly illustrations – from dazzling lightning storms to moonlit cityscapes – that will make them want to linger on every spread. This is a picture book they’ll go back to again and again, and one that you won’t mind reading with them.

FunLockets Secret Journal Glitter Edition


While this looks like a fairly standard journal from the outside, it’s a lot more fun once you open it up. There are loads of little compartments to store the various bits and bobs inside – from stickers and charms to secret notes scribbled on the notepad.

Our tester loved the fact it’s lockable, so the contents are safe from the prying eyes of older siblings. It’s a cute twist on a classic journal that encourages mindfulness, while adding an element of play – and the price point makes it a nice birthday party present.

Miko 3 Smart Robot


If you’ve managed to keep your eight year old away from tech so far, they’re likely to love the Miko 3. This smart robot is like a pared-back and more childlike version of Alexa, able to answer basic questions about the world while whizzing about the room and interacting with your child.

As with all these sorts of toys, Miko’s full capacity is only really unlocked once you add on the Miko Max subscription, which costs an extra £6.58 per month if you buy the annual sub, or more if you pay monthly. Once you’ve got access to the premium content they can watch factual kids’ TV shows and animated Disney stories, and play all sorts of games and quizzes.

There’s a real focus on educational content – our testers liked the Lingokids language videos and the basic coding exercises. Granted, it might not go down quite so well if your kids are already accustomed to asking Alexa everything and anything, or already use a tablet, as we found it was only able to answer very basic questions. But as an intro to tech with an educational focus, this makes a lovely gift.

Little Live Pets Mama Surprise

Little Live Pets

If you’re being hounded to get a pet but can’t quite bear to take the plunge, the Little Live Pets Mama Surprise might just be the answer to your prayers. The interactive guinea pig Mama arrives with a hutch and some straw, and with enough love and attention – that’s plenty of stroking, brushing her hair, and feeding her with the little mini celery stick – her heart starts to glow. Pop her back in her hutch, close the door and wait, and a baby guinea pig will eventually appear complete with a little care package.

Our tester was no less in love with this toy even after she realised the babies appear from a little compartment at the top of the hutch, which means you can re-load them and re-birth them as many times as you like. Stock up on AAA batteries and thank your lucky stars you won’t need to clean out the hutch.

Sprite Classic LED Micro Scooter


By eight, many kids are beginning to find their balance and may well be ready to graduate from a three-wheeled scooter to a two-wheeler. The Sprite Classic Micro Scooter is ideal for that transition – and not just because of the all-important light-up LED wheels. This model has a lightweight aluminium frame, a streamlined footplate and handy kickstand, and 360-degree steering – just like a bike.

The handlebars are adjustable as your child grows, and the scooter folds up so you can easily stow it away in the boot. It looks and feels decidedly more grown-up than other models, and the light-up wheels – which are powered by the movement of the scooter, not batteries – are the icing on the cake.

Treasure X Mega Treasure Bot


This fierce-looking bot ticks a whole lot of boxes – from sound effects and slime, to kinetic sand and even real gold-dipped treasure. He arrives in need of repair, which is all part of the fun and involves smashing through his chest plate, refuelling him with robo ooze, and breaking into a treasure box using various tools. It’s all very hands-on and there’s lots of sensory fun involved.

Once you’ve located the treasure – the bot’s power core – he really comes to life, and our tester still enjoyed playing with this once the initial set-up was over and done with. Finding and de-rusting the gold was a particular highlight.

Barbie Sewing Machine with doll


This dinky little sewing machine comes with a Barbie doll plus everything your eight year old needs to fashion her a new wardrobe. While the hot pink design makes it look like a toy sewing machine, it’s actually the real deal – so they’ll need a little supervision when using the needle.

We like the fact there are two speeds, so you can go a bit slower while you’re getting to grips with using the pedal, and the patterns are a nice addition. This is a great way to encourage creativity and introduce kids to sewing when a full-sized machine seems a little too daunting.

Aqua Gelz Colossal Activity Set


This weird and wonderful craft set was a huge hit with our testers, who hadn’t seen anything like it before. You essentially create a flat design in a little mould using paint-like liquids, then place the mould into a special solution. The liquid design plumps up and pops out of the mould to create a squishy 3D creature, which sets completely within five minutes.

They’ll harden up if you take them out, so we left our submerged and now have a whole faux fish tank filled with cute underwater creatures. There are smaller starter sets available too, but we chose this one for the 14 colours and 20 different character moulds.

Nintendo Mario Kart 8 Mini Anti-Gravity RC Racer


Mario Kart may have launched way back in 1992 but its popularity has never wavered. With this racer, you can take the screen away from their racing obsession and bring the course into the real world.

Set up your home to mimic that of Rainbow Road, Moo Moo Farm or Kalimari Desert and with the remote included, they can glide Mario himself around your home in Race Mode or Anti-Gravity mode. The car can spin, drift or perform wheelies and you can add other fan favourites from the series including Luigi to race against.

It is operated by AA batteries that are included and the remote works 100ft away.

Barbie Camper: Transforming RV Vehicle & 2+-Foot Campsite Playset with Pool, Campfire & 50+ Pieces


A classic California girl, Barbie has plenty of spots that are perfect for a staycation. When the weather’s good and the weekend is free of plans, she simply has to pack up her RV and head out onto the open road.

This super fun camper van comes with more than 50 pieces for kids to play with, from a water slide and pool, to a tiny diner, beds and more. There’s even a fire pit and marshmallows should Barbie and co fancy a round of smores out under the stars.

A great gift for young explorers aged 3+.

KiwiCo STEM subscription box


KiwiCo stocks all sorts of STEM and STEAM subscription boxes, starting with their play-inspired Panda Crate for babies, all the way up to their engineering-inspired Eureka Crate for ages 14 and up. We tested the Doodle Crate, an art-focused box aimed at kids aged 9-16, as well as the Tinker Crate, which has more of a science focus and develops problem-solving skills for the same age range.

Our nine year old tester absolutely loved making a domino machine he’s seen on YouTube, particularly because he could follow the instructions independently. The crates are shipped internationally, so the first one may take a little longer to arrive than normal, but from that point onwards you’ll get a new themed box delivered every month.


Bobbin’s Gingersnap bike was met with adoring glances from our eight year old tester and certainly has the wow factor when it comes to gifting. It’s top quality, timeless, and will grow with your child as they explore the world on two wheels.

At the other end of the price range, Fire In The Hole is as much fun as it looks and we love the game’s sustainable credentials, and When The Sky Glows is our top pick when it comes to books.

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