It can be tough to find just the right toy or gift for kids, but it can be especially hard to find one as they start getting older. Tweens can be notoriously fickle when it comes to toys at this age now that they’re developing new relationships and social skills and maybe even feeling some insecurity. They need to have the same things as their friends so they feel they fit in, especially if they’re fighting with low self-esteem.
At the same time, they’re still kids yet, and they have the same need to continue to learn and grow as their younger counterparts. At 11, boys are still developing their fine and gross motor skills and their cognitive and mental skills such as problem-solving and critical thinking. Add to that the additional physical and social changes that come with being an 11-year-old boy, and it’s easy to see that they really could use some fun!
The toys on this list will have them smiling and laughing and learning while you’re saving money because these toys are highly rated award winners and easy on the budget. Skip to the list of toys if you’re short on time, or continue reading to learn about the developmental milestones that factored into the list.
11-year-old Developmental Milestones
That 11-year-old boy in your life can be a study in contrasts. Active one minute, withdrawn the next, full of opinions or completely silent. Don’t worry, this is all normal for that tween boy on the cusp of adolescence.
It’ll start to seem as though he only wants to eat and sleep – all the time! It does, after all, take a lot of energy to fuel all the growing and changing he’s going through. Now you’ll start to notice that he’s showing a lot of physical changes as begins his journey through puberty. You might even find he complains of cramps or pains – especially in his legs. And of course, now that he’s discovered video games, his hand-eye coordination is developing at light speed!
His thinking skills have been improving at about the same rate. He’s developing a sense of responsibility, he can see consequences, and he can see how things are connected. And he’s definitely discovered social media! Along with this new social and self-awareness comes a greater need for independence, perhaps some insecurity, and a need to keep some things private. On a more positive note, he could also form a stronger sense of himself, stronger relationships with friends, and maybe even a crush or two!
This can be the development stage that’s the most fun though. While they’re still developing their fine and gross motor skills, their language skills, and their cognitive skills, they’re also learning about the world and how others see it. They’re even learning that there can be more than one side to an issue, and they’re learning to debate, push boundaries, and develop self-confidence. Abstract thinking is a new concept for them as well, so creating, inventing, and studying larger issues such as climate change and war may well be new hobbies for them.
But boys will still always be boys! They like to play sports with their friends, which helps develop their gross motor skills and builds their self-confidence. They like to build towers and cars and robots, never knowing they’re improving their fine motor skills and cognitive ability at the same time. And some of them even still like to read books and learn more about the things they love.
Armed with the knowledge of developmental milestones unique to 11-year-old boys, read on to learn our top 10 most entertaining picks to keep these guys learning and growing without knowing it.
10 Best Toys & Gifts for 11 Year Old Boys Reviewed
Perplexus is a challenging and fun interactive maze game contained in a sphere. Your 11 year old boy will get a huge thrill conquering 100 challenges by finely rotating and balancing the sphere. If they mess up, they start over. This game is great for developing analytical thinking, fine motor control, spatial reasoning, and simply having a great time.
This “book” is, in reality, it’s so much more than just a book. It features 16 tear out model planes printed on regulation weight paper stock, including the world champion design!
Sometimes traditional works best! This paper airplane book is guaranteed to get and hold their attention for hours. And they’ll be honing their fine motor control and cognitive skills without even knowing it.
Can’t get your 11 year old to stop playing video games all the time? Now you don’t have to! With Mattel’s Bloxels Build Your Own Video Game, they won’t rot their brains, they’ll develop them.
Toy Insider’s STEM 10 winner allows users to physically and digitally create game rooms, characters, and game art using the 13″ x 13″ game-board and 320 blocks in eight different colors. Then download the free app on any tablet, smartphone, or computer and bring their game to life! Teach them the basics of video game coding for under $30, and they’ll come away from those video games knowing more than how to shoot the bad guys. There’s even a social component with the app that allows you to share your game and coding.
Note that this toy will require kids to have access to an Android or iOS device. The physical toy pairs with a Bloxels Builder free app.
There’s a good chance your 11 year old has seen a Star Wars movie and loved it. Get them an amazing Star Wars origami book that will have them building Yoda, Princess Leia, or R2-D2! This great book isn’t just a gimmick. It teaches the basics of origami and various folds. Your 11 year old will be developing their attention spans, spatial reasoning skills, fine motor control, hand-eye coordination, problem solving skills and more.
Some gifts a child does not know to ask for. But if they are open and allow a gift like this book to come in to their lives, it will fundamentally change their nature forever. The messages in this book are powerful and positive. They teach children about positive and negative emotions, what they mean, and how to use emotion as a guidance system. In short, this book teaches children how to pursue their desires while still being happy even when those desires are not yet manifest. Parents who don’t know about the law of attraction will benefit just as much from this book as their children. Without getting into the details, this book is highly effective at generating appreciation, happiness, and good feelings. If you want to give your 11 year old boy a deep understanding of the universe and their place in it, as well as give them the techniques to achieve lifelong happiness, then give them this book.
Get them outside and active again with this re-creation of a simple game of catch. Even at 11, they still need to work on their gross motor skills, and this is an easy game that consists of just two netted racquets and two balls. Let them hurl their balls at each other and try to catch them while they improve their hand-eye coordination and balance. Even those that aren’t athletically inclined can play – and enjoy!
This one is worth a shot for less than $25…and maybe they won’t even mind playing with you for a while!
What top toy list would be complete without LEGO on it somewhere? Well, this one is no different. However, the difference is this NAPPA Silver Award winning LEGO set is teaching more than just the usual building and creating lessons. This one even teaches them physics!
Using the 78-page book of instructions, 33 LEGO elements, 6 LEGO balls, 2.2 yards of string, 8 paper ramps, 2 paper pop-up signs, paper funnel, paper flag, paper bucket, and platform that comes in this $22 kit, kids can learn about physics by creating and watching chain reactions.
Board games are great developmental tools, and Forbidden Island is an especially good one. This highly rated cooperative board game will have your 11 year sitting on the edge of their seat as the forbidden island crumbles at the end of the game. This game is easy to learn, takes 30 minutes to play, and helps develop strategic thinking, problem solving, and social skills. It’s also a 2010 Mensa Favorite Brainy Games Winner.
Just like sports and video games, many 11-year-old boys are drawn to and intrigued by all things electronic or mechanical. With Snap Circuits Jr., they can mess around with both.
This 30-piece kit lets them build a flashing light, photo sensor, and a siren – with alternating volume – allowing them to develop their imagination, curiosity, creativity, problem-solving skills, and critical thinking skills. This National Parenting Center-Seal of Approval, Dr. Toy 100 Best Children’s Products, Dr Toy Best Educational Products winner is well worth the $22, and you can upgrade to the more advanced version if it proves to be well-loved.
This fun and deceptively challenging game will keep any 11-year-old occupied. It will help to develop their coordination, focus, and fine motor skills while they’re busy trying to master it. And if they get frustrated, this sturdy toy can handle anything they throw at it.
Another award winner – this time the Creative Kids 2018 Toy of the Year – this game will fascinate kids for hours while only setting you back about $25, and it was created and designed in cooperation with occupational and physiotherapists.
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 9 year old boys
- Best toys for 10 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 middle schoolers – understood.org