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It doesn’t feel like much time has passed since you just celebrated your son’s eighth birthday, but here you are, another year older, balking at all the toy options available. And here he is, turning nine, and he’s beginning to feel bored and unchallenged by the toys from his younger years. What’s a parent to do to keep their child entertained and learning?
The good news is, you don’t have to look any further than this article to find out what’s what in the toy world. We’ve curated the 10 best toys for 9 year old boys that are both educational and fun. If you’re short on time, jump to the top toys list below. Otherwise, read on to learn about the developmental milestones that typical 9 year olds are expected to reach that were considered for the list.
9-Year Old Developmental Milestones
It should come as no surprise that your nine-year old boy is going to go through some big changes this year, but they’re integral to his continued development as he transitions into his preteens.
At this age, you might notice marked improvements in his hand-eye coordination, which come in handy if he wants to take up sports. You can encourage growth in this area with a number of options that test the limits of dexterity while providing an understanding of how to use certain tools.
Bigger than the physical changes you’ll start to notice is a child’s growing understanding of the world. This is the age he’ll start to recognize others’ opinions as being separate and valid from their own, though he may still confuse fact and opinion. This understanding provides a basis for more effective discussions about rules, and your child will better connect effects with their causes. As he starts to think for himself, his inclination toward independence will rise, and he’ll be more comfortable with less supervision. This development is important, because it dictates what sort of toys will most cater to his interests — you’ll need to pay attention to whether his activity requires another person.
Cognitively, your 9 year old will be learning many critical life skills like multiplication and division, which require a solid foundation of addition and subtraction. To succeed, they’ll need to move on from counting and begin developing mental math skills, which is the ability to do math in their head. 9 year olds are also expected to spell at least the 300 most common words, and to write in complete sentences and have a basic understanding of grammar. It’s important to help your 9 year old master the 3rd grade math and English standards, so they don’t end up falling behind through the rest of their education.
In this exciting year, you can do what you’ve always done and bolster his growth not only through your teachings, but with great educational toys that will keep him moving forward. Consider getting any of these 10 top toys which are educational, fun, safe, and affordable.
10 Best Toys & Gift Ideas for 9 Year Old Boys
1. Gravity Maze
Gravity Maze is a prize winning spatial recognition puzzle game that’s both fun and challenging. 9 year old boys create a tube to allow a marble to be dropped in a hole at the top and reach the bottom in one move. The kit comes with 60 challenge cards varying in difficulty and challenges a child’s sequential reasoning skills. The game helps them think ahead and envision what paths will work. And, with a little imagination, once the challenge cards are beaten, a child can continue to build marble tracks to further test their reasoning skills.
This toy provides a solid introduction to electricity, which will put your child ahead of the curve during these units in school. No, the toy doesn’t delve into Ohm’s Law and some of your other high school physics class nightmares, but the resistors, diodes, lights, switches, and dials included with the kit enable all sorts of experiments to be completed. The best part? The kit comes with instructions to create a quiz show game, an electronic drum kit, and several other interactive projects.
For hands-on learning with real-world applications, this toy is one of your nine-year old’s best bets that they’ll love for years.
3. Rubik’s Cube
Over 350 million Rubik’s Cubes have been sold since their invention in 1974, and since then, they’ve frustrated the entire world at some point. Only a few can master the cube, but with such a simple idea — just get all squares of each color on one side — anyone can enjoy the challenge.
At nine, your son might be a little ways off from learning all the algorithms to solve the cube in under a minute, but this toy can keep him occupied for years until he figures it out. Just mix up the colors once, and he’ll try start turning the sides around for hours.
This toy is good for spatial recognition and developing courses of action based on potential outcomes — an exceptional match for a mind beginning to understand abstract thought.
If your son gets frustrated and can’t solve the puzzle, that’s normal. Point them to any number of resources online for how to solve a Rubik’s cube. They’ll feel even more accomplished when they can show of their finished cube to their friends.
4. Ivan’s Hinge
Ivan’s Hinge is an ingenious band of foldable triangles that appears simple, but is actually very difficult to master. 9 year old will bend and fold the toy to try to match the design on one of 50+ challenge cards.
The small moving parts allow your child to continue development of his hand-eye coordination, but more importantly, your 9 year old boy will be challenging his spacial reasoning and problem solving skills.
Note, this toy is very challenging. Many adults can’t solve the puzzles, so if your 9 year old doesn’t get a hang of it, just put the toy away for a year or two until their minds develop further.
Encourage your child to learn about engineering with this kit that teaches the fundamentals of numerous applications of physics. This highly interactive set encourages your son to build structures that exemplify how momentum, force, and friction influence an object’s movement. Twelve working models are included in this set, and each model is easy to build and teaches something different about how force can be applied on an object. Your 9 year old boy will love building a helicopter, vise, hand drill, scissor lift, and more.
This set is another take on marble runs, but rather than providing the challenge of a puzzle, it allows a child to be creative and make their own courses. “Tunnels, funnels, ramps, and chutes” provide for any number of options for your child to play with, all while teaching your child basic engineering concepts like structural stability and balance. The more they play with this toy, the more complicated their tracks can become, all while providing a generous sense of satisfaction for overcoming new obstacles.
At some point in many adult’s lives, they stop drawing and become frumpy, serious adults. Don’t let this happen to your child. Give them this great light up tracing pad to help keep their creative spirit alive while developing their fine motor control, hand eye coordination, and spatial reasoning abilities.
The toy comes with a few tracing sheets, as well as blank sheets, so your 9 year old can draw whatever they most enjoy.
Many children are fascinated by space, and the more they learn about it, the more they want to know. Your son may or may not actually become an astronaut, but they can explore space with this moveable solar system planetarium.
Everything you need to build your planetarium is included with this kit, including glow-in-the-dark paint! However, be weary of purchasing this if your nine-year old has a younger sibling, as there are many small parts included in this kit.
A lot of boys love gross things, and they love to gross people out — why not let them practice these abilities? With the Disgusting Science Kit, your son will learn all about some of the grosser bodily functions, all through wonderfully realistic recreations. Not only is the kit interactive, but it comes with little fact cards that allow your son to learn exactly what it is they’re creating — and it might give them an insight why Mom ran away screaming when she saw the fake blood.
Let loose with some body-driven target practice. This is a new take on traditional dodgeball with two velcro-lined mesh vests that the included ball set stick to. Players may take turns firing at one another to build hand-eye coordination, or a more dynamic form may be played where players are always on the move, trying to hit their targets.
The game is easy to pack for any outing, and it can be enjoyed by players of all ages. The only downside is that it is for no more than two people, unless multiple sets are purchased.
Participating in the pinewood derby as a kid was a shining moment in your childhood, why shouldn’t it be for your own son? This toy doesn’t break the bank and every step of building the car teaches your child something new. When you start with a solid block of wood, your child begins to hone their abstract thinking abilities, considering all the options that their car could look like — realistic? Futuristic? Conceptual? Just the planning can take plenty of time, but when they finally decide on a design, he can put his idea into action by learning the basics of common tools, like saws, sanders, and hammers. Then when they’re finally done with making the car’s chassis, you can help him paint it into the hot rod of your — or, his — dreams.
Note, you will need to buy sanding, and wood carving tools in addition to this set.
Cost-friendly accessories are available, too, to make this vehicle one of the sweetest-looking, fastest racers out there. Find yourself an incline, and you can both watch it ride.
Toys for Other Age Ranges
For more toy and gift ideas for kids, check out our other great articles:
- Best toys for 1 year old boys
- Best toys for 2 year old boys
- Best toys for 3 year old boys and girls
- Best toys for 4 year old boys
- Best toys for 5 year old boys
- Best toys for 6 year old boys
- Best toys for 7 year old boys
- Best toys for 8 year old boys
- Best toys for 10 year old boys
- Best toys for 11 year old boys
- Best toys for 12 year old boys
We hope you’ve enjoyed this list. While we don’t suggest that these are the only toys your child will ever need, we do think this list of the best educational toys for boys is a great start. If you have any suggestions or feedback, please reach out to us.
Criteria for Placement
While listing the best educational resources is never an exact science, we’ve done our best find products that rank highly on the following criteria:
- Developmental impact: Many toys out there like plush dolls are somewhat limited in their developmental impact. We’ve critically evaluated the toys on this list for their impact on physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development.
- Safety: All toys on this list are safe to use, free of toxic compounds like lead and BPA
- Durability: Children love to throw, jump on, and touch everything in sight. The toys on this list are fit to withstand the bumps and hard landings.
- Price: Parenting doesn’t need to be outrageously expensive. We looked for the cheapest products that still meet our developmental and quality requirements.
- Developmental milestones for typical fourth and fifth graders – understood.org