Published on October 28, 2020

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For kids in the 4-to-9 range, the right gift can be a portal to self-discovery—and it doesn’t need to be extravagant (their imagination is capable of spinning almost anything into an epic experience). A pint-size baking kit shows them the magic of mixing up batter and watching it rise; a camera becomes a new point of view through which to express themselves and explore the world. With that in mind, we rounded up 16 special gift ideas that will delight the little ones in your life—mini architects, computer scientists-in-the-making, tiny-footed adventurers, and more. 

For the Expert Lounger 

Create a zen space where they’ll truly want to hang out. This floating cotton-canvas daybed is the perfect chill zone for playing with friends or siblings (it fits up to four adults)—or having quiet solo time nestled in some cozy textiles, like an artist-designed, kid-size throw blanket. Bonus: The bed is durable enough to be used outdoors in the summer months and comes with a carry bag for easy storage and portability.  

For the Lo-Fi Fun Seeker 

Give them a remedy to screen fatigue with these in-no-way-digital kits: a magnetic origami set in modular shapes and snappy colors with endless design possibilities; a STEM robot that teaches kids (starting at age 5) how to code; and a mom-founded monthly art project subscription service themed around iconic artists, such as Yayoi Kusama (kaleidoscope) and Ugo Rondinone (painted rocks). 

For the Budding Nature Lover

You can encourage their green thumb year-round with this charming greenhouse-inspired playhouse. When they’re ready to get their tiny hands in some real soil, this tree kit—available in loblolly pine, American sycamore, and blue spruce—not only gives kids real-life gardening experience but also teaches them about eco-conservation. (Apartment dwellers, go with a holiday cracker–style seed “popper” for a festive, fragrant start to the year—backyard optional.) 

For the Mini Creative

The next gen of design enthusiasts will appreciate a considered space for making, crafting, and dreaming big. Set the scene with furniture and decor that get their creativity flowing: a minimalist ash-veneer desk and chair in mix-and-match colorways has Dieter Rams vibes. A simple-to-DIY ceramic chime kit uses organic shapes that bring Henri Matisse’s free-form cutouts to mind. And a playful poster helps kids understand the components for drawing each number, with a nod to Sol LeWitt’s colorful squiggles. 

For the Hands-On Experimenter 

Whether they’re measuring and mixing up a storm in the kitchen or the lab, inquisitive minds will love both these sets. One introduces chemistry in the form of a crystal primer for kids ages 5 and up, resulting in a Technicolor “garden” that magically grows over two days. The other is a stylish baking kit that includes enamel Spatterware dishes, teakwood measuring spoons, a matching apron and pot holders, and family-friendly recipe cards to kick off a holiday bake-a-thon. 

For the Around-Town Explorer

Less long-haul travel has meant experiencing our surroundings in a whole new light. To help little ones observe their world more fully, these pieces promote discovery at every turn. The bike is a shrunken version of a classic adult cruiser—complete with detachable wicker basket—while the digital waterproof camera is designed for small hands to grip the Lego-like brick (and hold up, if they accidentally let go). It even allows young photographers to add cool preloaded framing to personalize their snaps.

For the Avid Storyteller 

This child-centric smart speaker lets little ones pick the (age-appropriate) content of their choice, using audio cards that can be swapped in and out from Yoto’s extensive library of music, podcasts, stories, and books—including Roald Dahl classics, guided meditations, and Treasure Island. Likewise, Illustoria (from indie publisher McSweeney’s) is part activity book, part comic and DIY zine dedicated to “creative kids and their grown-ups slowing down.” Something all families can do more of this holiday season.

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