Best holiday gifts for kids

It can be tricky, finding your tykes toys they won’t be tired of by the New Year. The editors at Reviewed and USA TODAY’S Modern Woman are here to help with the year’s best in toy and game recommendations. Some of them are even sneakily educational (but don’t tell your kids that).

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Powered by:

$146

Wonder Workshop Dash Robot

If your child loves to take apart remotes and other electronics, they’ll probably love the Wonder Workshop Dash robot. It can respond to voice commands, sing little tunes, draw pictures, and move all around.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$11

LOL Surprise Doll

If your kid enjoys collecting things, these miniature figures are perfect for just that, as there’s well over a hundred of them. The plastic ball they come in can even be used as a carrying case, too.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$150

Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar

This is coding at its most basic. The Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar has a motorized, caterpillar-shaped head, and kids can make it move in different directions or complete certain actions by adding a variety of pieces to the body of the Code-a-Pillar.

 — Julia MacDougall, senior scientist

Reviewed

$225

Cubetto

Cubetto is an awesome copilot on your kid’s journey to becoming a junior programmer. Kids use the tiles to guide Cubetto through the adventures mentioned in the storybook by placing command tiles to tell it where to go next.

 — Julia MacDougall, senior scientist

Reviewed

$115

American Girl’s Luciana Vega

American Girl’s Doll of the Year is an aspiring astronaut.

 — Amy Sinatra Ayres, editor

Modern Woman Magazine

$15

Pomsies

Wrap Pomsies around the wrist, hair or backpack.

 — Amy Sinatra Ayres, editor

Modern Woman Magazine

$299

Nintendo Switch

Not only does it work as a home gaming console, you can use it as a handheld as well. Between the versatile hardware and the wide variety of games that are great for kids and the whole family, you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$100

Amazon Fire Tablet Kids Edition

The Amazon Fire Tablet Kids Edition is great for the accident-prone, and our top choice for the best tablets for kids. Not only does the case protect against bumps and drops, but the parental controls are robust as well.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$25

Robot Turtles

A board game that beautifully demonstrates the basics of coding. Each player is given a “robot turtle” tile. Using cards representing motions or actions, the colorful turtles must navigate the game board to find the jewel at the center of the board.

 —Julia MacDougall, senior scientist

Reviewed

$200

Root Robotics

Using Root Robotic’s block coding system and extremely thorough coding lessons, children as young as four years old can start driving and drawing with this robot. It comes with a whiteboard grid and can be controlled with a phone app.

 —Julia MacDougall, senior scientist

Reviewed

$10

Playdoh Frost n’ Cakes Playset

Does your kid like to make pretend cakes and pastries out of Playdoh? If so, you’ll want to check out this Playdoh kitchen on Amazon. It includes everything from cake molds to frosting tools.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$100

Puro Sound Labs Headphones

If you want to get a new pair of high-quality, safe headphones for your music-loving tot, look no further. Between the long battery life and comfortable over the ear fit, the Puro Sound Labs BT2200 headphones have a lot to offer.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$50

Circle Society Roller Skates

Circle Society roller skates can be expanded to fit kids’ growing feet.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$27

Fisher-Price Cash Register

Kids will love making grocery lists, using a real calculator and more.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$147

Xbox Elite Wireless Controller

It’s unique because you can swap out the joysticks and directional pad. This is cool if your kid likes to tinker with hardware, as this isn’t a common feature among controllers. But the biggest selling point here is that it’s comfortable to use.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$170

Potensic T25 Drone

The Potensic T25 drone is our top pick for drones under $200. Not only does it have a 1080p camera built right in, but the GPS gives it rock-solid stability. That means you can release the controls and the drone will stay exactly where you leave it.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$60

Elmoji

Elmoji is the latest version of Coji, an emoji-themed robot aimed at young kids. The Coji app offers a way for users to write code for Elmoji and make it perform motions or display certain emojis. The Elmoji app is geared toward younger kids.

 — Julia MacDougall, chief scientist

Reviewed

$229-$499

KIBO

KIBO is a robot who operates on a combination of sensors and barcode inputs. To make KIBO follow a sequence of actions, kids build a program by assembling a line of large, kid-friendly wooden blocks, each with different barcodes.

 — Julia MacDougall, chief scientist

Reviewed

$25

Classic LiteBrite

Classic LiteBrite Magic Screen edition.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$20

Planet Blocks

Send your little one to space with these educational blocks.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$15

Light Up Plush Pillow

Not only is it super adorable, it’s a great alternative to the traditional nightlight. It also automatically turns itself off after thirty minutes, so you don’t have to worry about your kid falling asleep with it.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$25

Mini Explorer Light-Up Terrarium Kit

If your kid has a green thumb, you’ll definitely want to look into this Mini Explorer Light-Up Terrarium Kit for kids. They can grow wheatgrass and chia sprouts, and the light-up LED lid really transforms the terrarium at night.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$15

Potato Pirates

Players raise and deploy pirate potato armies against one another with strategically played attack cards. Once your kids master this potato-themed card game, applying the same principles to computer coding will be a breeze.

 — Julia MacDougall, chief scientist

Reviewed

$150

Dash

Dash is a delightful robot who teaches kids coding skills in three different apps: Dash Path, Dash Wonder, and Dash Blockly. These three apps have varying levels of complexity so that Dash is a fun experience for kids at different ages.

 — Julia MacDougall, chief scientist

Reviewed

$54

BB8 Sphero

The BB8 Sphero robot is the perfect gift for the young padawan in your life. It’s cute as hell and the companion app is really easy to navigate. Just don’t do what I did and accidentally send it flying down the stairs.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$19

Ultimate Slime Kit DIY

If your kid likes playing with goop, you’ll want to check out this slime kit on Amazon. There are lots of recipes, so you can make everything from glow-in-the-dark to color-changing slime. You also get everything you need to make it.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$40

FurReal Maker Proto Max

FurReal is a responsive robot who makes calm, happy noises when kids pet it on its furred back, or barks a warning when its tail is tweaked. Where FurReal really shines, though, is the coding and programming modules in the companion app.

 — Julia MacDougall, chief scientist

Reviewed

$200

Augie

Augie is an app-controlled robot with AR (augmented reality) capabilities. Kids use six different modules in the app to make the robot perform different actions, make sounds, and navigate within an AR environment.

 — Julia MacDougall, chief scientist

Reviewed

$26

AmazonBasics Pop-Up Goal

Whether you’re just kicking a ball around the yard or making up your own game, this will let you set up goals just about anywhere. You get two goals and a carrying bag, and the nets are available in three different sizes.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$23

Sophie the Giraffe

Sophie the Giraffe is an absolute godsend. If you’ve ever dealt with a teething baby, you probably know how terrible it can be for everyone involved. Well, for some reason, this squishy giraffe quells even the most miserable of babies.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$55

Little Patient Doll

The Little Patient is a doll that you can literally pull the guts out of. No, I don’t just mean stuffing. You can actually remove the heart, kidneys, and other organs. If your little one is interested in human anatomy, this would make an excellent gift.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$73

Step2 Best Chef’s Toy Kitchen

I’m pretty sure this play kitchen is better than my actual kitchen. Between all the storage and counter space, I’m a little jealous. There are also hooks for hanging up cups and utensils, and it comes with a tiny recycling bin. How cute is that?

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$99

mPie Microduino Kit

Using the different function modules, kids can construct simple circuits on a Lego sheet that do everything from lighting up when a button is pressed to power a lunar eclipse (via a servo/motor module that integrates a model).

 — Julia MacDougall, chief scientist

Reviewed

$180

Cozmo

Cozmo is a little robot who intuitively reacts to objects and people alike. Its AI includes two neat features: facial recognition and spatial mapping, which can be used to play games an interact with the robot. Kids can also work with it via an app.

 — Julia MacDougall, chief scientist

Reviewed

$20

Eco Toy Trucks

If your kid is currently honing their fine motor skills, these cute trucks are designed for exactly that. Not only are they colorful, eco-friendly, and perfect for tiny hands (3 and up, though!), they can be disassembled and reassembled as well.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$15

Darice 80-Piece Art Set

Whether your child is an amateur artist or a master finger painter, the Darice 80-Piece Deluxe Art Set is a wonderful gift for the creative kiddo in your life. It includes tons of art supplies for drawing and painting and a beautiful wooden carrying case.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$120

Micro Mini 3 in 1 Deluxe Scooter

It comes in a couple of different colors and it’s the type of product that grows with your child, meaning you can use it from age one to five. While it’s designed with young kids in mind, we’d still recommend pairing it with this awesome helmet.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$70

Furby

If you don’t know about Furby, it’s a nostalgic toy from the ’90s, and it’s having a moment right now with this generation of children. The new version can learn songs via an app on your phone and it comes with a “sleep” mask that can turn it off.

 — Ashley Barry-Biancuzzo, editor

Reviewed

$160

LEGO BOOST

The LEGO BOOST kit comes with over 800 pieces, a stiff paper grid map, and a Bluetooth-connected motor that also includes motion, color, and orientation sensors. You can build different models and control them via a companion app.

 — Julia MacDougall, chief scientist

Reviewed

$130

SPRK+

SPRK+ is a spherical robot that rolls and reacts according to the code created in the Sphero Edu app. It comes with a charging base, “maze tape”, and a protractor. The maze tape acts as as a boundary that SPRK+ will detect and navigate along.

 — Julia MacDougall, chief scientist

Reviewed

$100

Droid Inventor Kit

This will be an instant hit with Star Wars fans both young and old. Using both circuit-building skills and coding skills, you can make R2-D2 dance around or attack intruders, or you can create your own customized robot.

 — Julia MacDougall, chief scientist

Reviewed

$60

Mover Kit

With a small computer and motion sensors, the Mover Kit allows kids to combine physical activity and programming in this toy that can be worn like a watch. Programs can be created and uploaded to the toy via a USB cable.

 — Julia MacDougall, chief scientist

Reviewed

$140

JIMU

This is a DIY robotics kit that, in addition to showing kids how to build and operate the standard models, also encourages them to build their own models and explore the relationship between computer code and the real world.

 — Julia MacDougall, chief scientist

Reviewed

$15 each

//CODE games

On the BrinkRobot Repair, and Rover Control all come with a small game board, game pieces, a mission book, and a solution manual. Each “level” is its own mind teaser, where only a specific combination of colors or moves is the correct solution.

 — Julia MacDougall, chief scientist

Reviewed

$150

The Boolean Box

The Boolean Box kit is an amazing kit that introduces programming, circuit design, and logical thinking in fun, bite-sized lessons that will be fun for both new and advanced coders.

 — Julia MacDougall, chief scientist

Reviewed