Are you looking for a toy or gift that’s both fun and developmentally appropriate for the 12 year old boy in your life? With so many options out there, it can be tough to pick the perfect gift. But, you’re in luck! We’ve reviewed and researched hundreds of toys and have put together a list of the 10 best toys for 12 year old boys. These toys are designed to help them reach their developmental milestones all while having a great time.
If you’re in a hurry, you can skip directly to the top toys and gifts list below. Otherwise, read on to learn about the 12 year old developmental milestones that set the context for this list.
12-Year-Old Developmental Milestones
12 year old children are at both a challenging and exciting time in their young lives. At this age, you’ll notice that your child is undergoing big changes both inside and out. Physically, you may notice that your child’s hand dominance is more apparent and their fine motor skills are dramatically improving. These physical developments along with the big changes of puberty also mean that your child may have both an increased appetite and an increased need for sleep.
Cognitively speaking, kids in this age range are now able to more easily understand abstract ideas. Grasping the finer details of cause and effect relationships and being able to understand more than one side of an issue are two more developments to look forward to. Your 12 year old may also become more responsible and aware of their household role.
Emotionally, it’s all about independence this year. Your son will become increasingly independent from the family and have more interest than ever in their social group. Their relationships with friends will become more complex and stronger than before. Internally, many kids struggle with self-esteem during this time and may also have their first crush.
10 Best Toys & Gifts for 12 Year Old Boys
Few individual toys can match the huge developmental power and fun that the Nintendo Switch console can provide. This dynamic platform is full of kid friendly games like Mario, Sonic, and Zelda that will have your 12 year old enthralled for hours, days, and weeks. While many fearful parents clamor how bad technology is for kids, in our opinion, technology is massively beneficial as long as it’s used with balance.
Zelda, in particular, for the Nintendo Switch is not only one of the highest rated games of all time, it’s also one of the most developmentally beneficial. It’s full of hundreds of challenges that take real intellect to overcome. Your 12 year old boy will need to memorize terrains, mark points on maps, and simultaneously complete multiple interwoven projects.
The Nintendo Switch console is great humans of all ages, including those much older and much younger than your 12 year old.
Many fearful parents argue that technology is bad for kids. The argument is that excessive usage (8+ hours a day) restricts physical activity, limits development, promotes obesity, causes depression, addiction, and many other bad things. If you’re worried that this gift will have a negative influence on your child, simply limit their usage to an hour or two every day. We believe the benefit of the stimulation provided by the Switch far outweighs the downsides. You as the parent can ensure this developmental tool/toy is used appropriately.
What 12-year-old doesn’t love robots? Give them the opportunity to gain a basic understanding of robot technology with the Circuit-Test Robotic Arm Kit. Your child will be able to build a robotic arm that uses five motors and five joints to grip, close, reach, rotate, grab, and release. As a note, this kit is great for a mechanically-minded child, but may require some parental involvement to assemble.
While this robot arm won’t be doing your dishes quite yet, it is an excellent introduction to robotics for your 12 year old boy that could inspire a lifelong passion in technology and computer science.
Help your 12-year-old boost their coordination and develop good sportsmanship with this easy-to-set-up and durable table tennis set. JOOLA’s competition-grade table with net set can provide hours of fun with family and friends. Or, your child can change the configuration to Solo Mode and practice serving and rebounds. We love this set, but it should be noted that at 9’x5’, this table does require a large open space to get the best gameplay out of it. Also, if you’re on a budge, consider picking up a used table on Craigslist or similar listing sites.
During your child’s pre-teen years, self-expression can be a bit of a challenge. They may have a hard time expressing themselves at school or within their peer group as they are still developing a sense of self. That’s why we love the Art 101 Art Set; it gives your child a safe space to experiment and create while honing their fine motor skills. This set comes with watercolors, pastels, and colored pencils, so they have plenty of opportunity to figure out which mediums they like best.
This simple set of 4 metal puzzles is a big hit for kids as young as 6, to adults as old as dirt. The puzzles stimulate and improve childrens’ IQs, problem solving, and creativity. At under $10, it’s a wonderful, affordable birthday or holiday gift for your 12 year old boy.
Get your 11 year old boy active and socializing with this highly rated 2 on 2 frisbee game. You child will improve their strength, fine motor control, and critical thinking as they throw and deflect the disc to victory. The game is dead simple to learn, and outrageously fun. Plus, your 11 year old boy will learn the skill of throwing a frisbee.
This toy can be played by people of all ages, and parents will enjoy it as much as their kids.
Children are fascinated by watching things change over time. We think this Crystal Growing Experiment Kit could be enjoyed by most anyone, but it’s perfect for any budding geologist or science-minded 12-year-old. The crystals begin growing immediately and continue to grow for 7-10 days, long enough to be entertaining without the risk of becoming boring. The experiment requires following instructions carefully as they’ll need to precisely mix the compounds for each of the 7 crystals. Once the crystals are grown, they will last indefinitely in their individual display domes.
With nearly 1,000 five-star reviews, this strategy game is a favorite among parents and kids alike. But, Blokus isn’t just a fun addition to your family game night rotation. It also promotes healthy brain activity, which is why it’s received a Mensa Select Winning Games award. This multi-player game is easy to learn and is designed to help your 12-year-old develop their critical reasoning and social skills.
Perfect for your curious 12-year-old, the Thames & Kosmos telescope and astronomy science kit helps them expand on what they’re learning in school in an independent setting. The refractor lens makes it possible to see planets and their moons, various nebula, and countless constellations. Weighing in at 9 lbs., this telescope is lightweight enough to pack up and take on any stargazing adventure!
Encouraging your child to play an instrument is a great way to help them improve their coordination, memory, patience, and even their math skills. We think this Ibanez Acoustic Guitar pack is a great mix of quality and value that will provide hours of entertainment and the foundation of a lifelong hobby. This guitar comes with everything they’ll need to get started, including a tuner and a gig bag. However, we’d also include this book, Teach Yourself to Play Guitar to help them learn the basics.
A safe alternative to darts (both for players and your walls), the Elite Hookey Ring Toss Game is a fun game for your child and their friends to play when they’re hanging out at your house. Just like with traditional darts, one of the hidden benefits of the game is the quick math required to keep score. We also like that the Hookey board, unlike a dart board, will last forever.
Even in their earliest years, blocks are considered some of the best toys for a child’s development. But, the benefits of building far outlast the toddler and preschool years. Spatial reasoning, problem solving, and learning to visualize 3D objects are critical skills that your 12-year-old can develop all while having fun with the Hogwarts crew. The LEGO Harry Potter Aragog’s Lair Kit takes an exciting scene from a beloved series and blends it with classic LEGO fun.
If you struggle to get your 12-year-old to clean their room, this gift will at least encourage them to keep their dirty clothes off of the floor. The Wham-O Hamper Hoop is a basketball-themed clothes hamper that may seem like just a fun way to practice their dunking skills, but it will also help them develop good habits and a better understanding of personal responsibility.
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
- 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 11 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