Your 8-year-old now plays for extended periods of time, requiring much less help and direction from you. They are much better at problem solving too, and are usually quite happy to spend time with toys that challenge them to work things out on their own.

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Which type of toys are best for 8 year olds?

Your child's fine motor skills are becoming more and more adept, which means they'll probably enjoy quite fiddly or complex art, craft or building projects. And, as their reading, writing and counting abilities increase, they'll be ready for toys and games that make use of simple maths or involve puzzles and secret codes to work out.

Playsets that can be used in pretend play scenarios are still popular, especially if they can involve putting on a show or demonstrating something entertaining. And now is the age that your child will really start to enjoy games they can play with others their own age. They are (finally) learning how to lose – and win – with grace (sometimes).

It's worth remembering, though, that your child may have started to develop quite a fixed idea of the kinds of activity they like or are 'good at', which can sometimes make play a little restricted, so it's often well worth doing a little coaxing to try a toy that involves them in something different.

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How to choose toys safely

  • Look for the CE symbol as this is used by manufacturers to show the toy meets all the relevant regulatory requirements
  • Also keep an eye out for the British Toy and Hobby Association's (BTHA) 'Lion Mark' – although this is voluntary it means that the toy has to meet safety requirements to be a member 
  • Pay attention to the age suitability of the toy
  • Check toys over time for sharp points or edges. If they have become dangerously worn considering getting rid of them or having them repaired if possible

Best toys for 8 year olds at a glance

  • Great for dinosaur thrills: Jurassic World RealFX Baby Blue, £99.99
  • Great for space-themed role play: LEGO Friends Olivia’s Space Academy, £59.99
  • Great for Pokémon role play: Pokémon Flame & Flight Deluxe Charizard, £34.99
  • Great fashion doll: Rainbow High Fashion Doll Series 4, £31.99 each
  • Great memory game: The World by BrainBox, £13
  • Great for construction skills: Clementoni Science Museum Mechanics Junior Moving Animals, £22.99
  • Great all-action game: Exploding Kittens A Game of Cat and Mouth, £24.99
  • Great for spatial skills: GraviTrax Obstacle Starter Set, £84.99
  • Great for nature lovers: Apple to Pears Build a Bee Hotel Gift in a Tin, £14
  • Great for puzzles and challenges: Mindshot Nature + Now, £13 per 7-pack
  • Great for mini eco warriors: Popular Science Climate Science Kit, £19.99
  • Great budget buy: Eugy, from £8.50
  • Great for eco-friendly construction: Build Your Own Paper Plane Launcher, £19.99
  • Great family game: Drone Home, £21.99
  • Great for science lovers: Brainstorm Toys 450x Microscope, £31.50
  • Great game for social skills: Game of Life, £23

Here is our pick of the best toys for 8-year-olds, as tested by children and rated by their parents

1. Jurassic World RealFX Baby Blue, £99.99

– Great for dinosaur thrills

Jurassic World RealFX Baby Blue Dinosaur with child tester

Age suitability: 7+ | Best for age: 8+ | Size: L57cm x W24cm x H33cm | Batteries: 3 x AAA (not included)
Awards: Editor's Choice, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

This interactive velociraptor perches on a special 'Ranger handling glove 'which you wear on your hand. Inside are pistol-grip controls that allow you to make your Baby Blue blink, tilt, snap and – thrillingly – lunge.

There are over 20 sound effects, too, many of them triggered by sensors on Baby Blue's skin that detect touch. Getting the hang of the controls inside the glove does take a bit of getting used to but there's a QR code on the box that leads you to instructions to help you bring your dino to life with the most roarsome effects.

This is a toy with serious 'wow factor' and all our child testers and their parents were impressed by how lifelike the velociraptor appears. "I love how real she looks!" said our child tester Jacob, 8 (pictured above). "Yes, she looks exactly like the one from Jurassic World Dominion," added our other child tester Anthony, 8. "She looks really alive! I think she's awesome!”

Antony's mum Sara was impressed by this toy's quality and durability, too. "It's very hardy and has coped well with being pulled about, dropped and argued over. And I like how it encourages imaginative play and development of more complex fine motor skills."

Available at: The Entertainer, Bargain Max and Amazon

2. LEGO Friends Olivia's Space Academy, £59.99

– Great for a space-themed role play

LEGO Friends Olivia’s Space Academy with child tester Claudia

Age suitability: 8+ | Best for age: 8+ | Size: L10cm x W21cm x H26cm (main academy building) | Batteries: None
Awards: Editor's Choice, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

This 757-piece space exploration set makes for a good, long build (6 hours at least) which our child tester, Claudia, 8 (pictured above), couldn't wait to get started on. The finished set has lots of authentic NASA features including the robotic arm that extends from the shuttle. Even the equations on the classroom whiteboard are proper spaceflight equations!

We like the little observatory with its roof telescope and the fun multi-axis trainer where your little astronauts can simulate zero gravity.

"I have always wanted a space set." said our very appropriately named child tester Olivia, 8 (pictured above), "but they've always been too grown up. This one gets quite complicated to build in places but I cracked it. My favourite parts are the sliding doors and the models of the planets moving round the sun."

Olivia's mum Sarah liked the little details, like the constellation maps on the observatory, and the clever moving parts. "Building this kept Olivia busy and focused," she said, "and it opened up lots of conversations about space and the planets. It's a great fun, educational toy."

Comes with 4 (nicely diverse) figures and an interactive guide that, if you download the (free) LEGO app, lets you rotate and zoom in on your model in 3D.

Available at: LEGO and Amazon

3. Pokémon Flame & Flight Deluxe Charizard, £34.99

– Great for Pokémon-themed role play

Pokémon Flame and Flight Deluxe Charizard, with child tester Zac

Age suitability: 8+ | Best for age: 8+ | Size: H15cm (Charizard) and H5cm (Pikachu) | Batteries: 3 x AAA (included)
Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

Take this articulated Charizard dragon figure for a flight through the air and he'll respond with different lights, sounds and movements, depending on whether he's swooping up or down, right or left or spinning around. You can also load a missile in his mouth (3 are included) and then press a button on his back to fire it out.

He comes with a little Pikachu figure and a spring-loaded launcher that fires Pikachu into the air to do battle with Charizard.

"I love shooting the fire bolts at my sisters and trying to scare them with its sounds!" said our child tester Zac, 7 (pictured above. "I like how Charizard lights up and make sounds as I move him and it's also fun launching Pikachu and seeing how far he will fly."

It's probably a little pricey for what it is – you're inevitably paying extra for the Pokémon connection – but it really did hit the spot with all our testers. "Zac will be playing with this for many months to come," said his mum Anna. "He's a huge Pokémon fan and he's so happy acting out scenes from the TV show."

Available at: Smyths Toys and Selfridges

4. Rainbow High Fashion Doll Series 4, £31.99 each

– Great fashion doll

Rainbow High Core Fashion Doll Series 4 with child tester Beatrice

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 6+ | Size: H30cm |B atteries: None
Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

New in the popular Rainbow High series are these 6 dolls designed with an increased focus on diversity, including Jewel Richie (above right, 3rd from left), who has vitiligo, and Delilah Fields (above right, 4th from left), who has albinism and glasses.

As we've come to expect from the brand, each doll has long, thick, brushable hair (comb included), an articulated body and 2 mix-and-match outfits that are definitely more glam than casual.

"I like that I can dress her up in different outfits and put her earrings on," said our child tester Beatrice, 7 (pictured above left), who played with the Delilah Fields doll. "Her arms and legs are great because they can move into whatever shape you want – and she has glasses just like me!"

"This is a really well-made doll," added her mum Claire. "It's great to see albinism represented in the doll market, too: this opened up multiple opportunities to discuss diversity, which was lovely. My little girl also loves that the doll came with glasses, which we haven't experienced with any of our other dolls."

Available at: Argos and The Entertainer

5. Brainbox – The World, £13

– Great memory game

BrainBox The World game with child tester Lachlan

Age suitability: 8+ | Best for age: 8+ | Size: L12cm x W12cm x H12cm | Batteries: None

This quick-fire country-themed memory and observation game has a nice, simple format: pick 1 of the 55 country cards, study the picture and word 'answers' about it for 10 seconds, then roll the dice to find out which question you're going to get asked. Get the answer right and you keep the card, and the player with the most cards at the end is the winner.

"It's fun to play and easy to get the hang of," said our child tester Lachlan, 9 (pictured above, left), who first played with it with his 13-year-old friend (pictured, above right). "And we learnt some really great facts!"

It's good value for money, especially as the cards as so sturdy and nicely printed, and we think the questions and answers are well pitched for this age range – lively and interesting without being too primly 'educational'. We also like that the box is small enough to throw in a bag and take to a friend's house or on holiday.

Comes with an egg timer and dice. For 1 or more players.
Available at: Amazon

6. Clementoni Science Museum Mechanics Junior Moving Animals, £22.99

– Great for construction skills

Clementoni Science Museum Mechanics Junior Moving Animals with child tester Summaya

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 8+ | Size: Various | Batteries: 3 x AAA (not included)

This construction kit, which includes a motor unit, contains 120 pieces that can be assembled into 5 different animals – gorilla, lion, seal, shark, insect – all of which will move and walk.

The build for each animal is a good challenge: long enough to keep a child absorbed but not so long they'd get frustrated. The real excitement, though comes when the build is finished and you can make your animal move.

"Wow! It's flapping its wings as it moves!" said our child tester – and insect-maker – Summaya, 8 (pictured above, at the start of her build). "I really love the bright colours. I definitely want to make a different one now!"

Our only gripe? The animals are a bit trickier to disassemble than assemble – your child may need a bit of help.

Comes with a manual and a QR code for accessing (really quite good) 3D video instructions.

Available at: Amazon and the Science Museum

7. Exploding Kittens: A Game of Cat and Mouth, £24.99

– Great all-action game

Exploding Kittens- A Game of Cat and Mouth with child tester Anthony

Age suitability: 7+ | Best for age: 8+ | Size: L60cm x W26cm (when opened for play) | Batteries: None

In this battery-free, magnet-powered pinball-style game players compete to catapult the most balls from your pink cat's paw into the open mouth of the big white cat face in the centre of the game board.

We love how original and beautifully designed this game is – and that the box opens out to reveal the board. It's also pretty addictive to play!

Natasha, mum of our child tester Anthony, 8, said, "To be honest, us adults had just as much fun as the children. All of us were cheering one another on and getting more and more competitive as the game went on!"

Another of our child testers Rosie, 8 (whose fingers you can just see in the picture above), said, "I loved how you flick the paws with the balls inside. It's really fun. There are no other games like this!"

Comes with 24 balls, 2 magnetic Kitty Paw Flickers and 6 optional wall bumpers. For 2 players, or more if you download the special tournament app.

Available at: Amazon

8. GraviTrax Obstacle, £84.99

– Great for spatial skills

GraviTrax Obstacle Starter Set with child tester Amelie

Age suitability: 8+ | Best for age: 8+ | Size: Various | Batteries: None

This newer spin on the bestselling GraviTrax starter set also builds into a multi-level marble run, using a cardboard hexagon-holed base, magnetic balls and, this time, 140-odd plastic and metal pieces that slot together to create bridges, junctions, tracks, trampolines, a spiral, a zipline and even a magnetic cannon.

It's pricey but it's supercool – and there are so many tracks to build and stunts to devise. "It's really exciting to play with!" said our child tester Amelie, 8 (pictured above). "I enjoyed building the obstacles and it kept me and my brother and sister busy for hours."

Her mum Hollie added: "I like how this toy encourages your child to really concentrate and use their brain: they have to pick the right pieces and use their mind to really imagine the layout first. I really think this toy will get a lot of enjoyable use."

Comes with instructions, tasks and blueprint tracks to follow, plus access to a (free) GraviTrax app, where you can design more complicated tracks, and view the track from the ball's perspective.

Available at: Amazon and John Lewis

9. Apples to Pears Build a Bee Hotel Gift in a Tin, £14

– Great for engaging with nature

Apples to Pears Build a Bee Hotel Gift in a Tin with child tester Charles

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 8+ | Size: L9.5cm x W11cm x H9cm (once built) | Batteries: None

Inside this 14cm x 10cm tin you'll find all you need to make a diddy wooden house for bees and other insects, including all parts, glue and instructions.

This is a great-value gift for a nature-loving child, especially you also get tips on attracting bees to your garden and loads of info about solitary bees and how your bee hotel can help one.

The instructions – with colour pictures – are great and clear enough for a child to (mainly) get on with the build themselves, making this a doable crafty afternoon project.

"I love it!" said our child tester Charles, 8 (pictured above). "I really enjoyed building the hotel and cant wait to see if any bees come to stay there."

"I really like the design," added our other child tester Carly, 9. "I didn't need much help to make the bee house but my dad helped with the putting the roof on as it was tricky seeing where the holes went. We put the house in the garden on our shed. I think this should be recommended a lot as it is easy to make and keeps you busy."

Available at: Amazon and Bright Minds

10. Mindshot Nature + Now, £13 per pack of 7

– Great for puzzles and challenges

Mindshot Nature + Now with child tester Cadhla

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 8+ | Size: W10cm x H13cm | Batteries: None

Inside this set of 7 pocket-sized paper packs, you'll discover cards detailing different info and activities, all of them centred on the natural world, and including games, challenges, puzzles, fact files, stickers and temporary tattoos.

We really like how you could just slip a pack in a pocket or bag, ready for whenever those 'I'm bored' moments strike. The activities are fun and nicely open-ended and each pack has a good variety of simple and more challenging activities.

On opening her first pack, our child tester, Cadhla, 8 (pictured above), said, "Wow – I love these wee activities!" and was soon running around the garden finding all the things she needed to make one of the pictures.

Her mum, Seaneen, said, "This is such a fantastic way to get the kids away from screens. The tasks and activities are very well thought out and they got our whole family involved. We love them!"

Available at: Digital Detox Kids

– Great for mini eco-warriors

Popular Science Climate Science Kit with child tester Finley

Age suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 8+ | Size: Various | Batteries: None

This science kit contains supplies for conducting 13 different experiments on climate change, as well as a 32-page booklet full of climate facts and step-by-step instructions for each experiment.

The experiments are fun – you can make snow, an ice cave and gooey glacier slime – and the climate-change facts are presented in an engaging way.

As is often the case with these kits, you do have supply some 'ingredients' yourself – most of them easy to find around the house – but do note that both we and Emma, mum of our child tester Finley, 7 (pictured above), were a bit thrown to have to find some glycerine. Finley, however, thought the set is "awesome".

"I really enjoyed playing with it," he said. "Making the ice cave and snow were some of my favourite experiments. The set is also serious and important as it teaches you about climate change. Children like me need to learn about it so we can help the planet so we have a better future. I hope other kids learn a lot from this set."

Nice to see the kit itself is made from recycled plastics, paper and card.

Available at: Bright Minds

12. Eugy, from £8.50 each

– Great budget buy

Eugy

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 8+ | Size: H11cm but sizes vary | Batteries: None

Each of these cute little craft kits has all you need to make a 6cm-high 3D model of an animal by slotting and glueing together card pieces in numerical sequence – non-toxic glue included. Take your pick from 21 animal designs, including a dragon, whale, meerkat (all pictured above), tiger, unicorn, narwhal and sloth.

Building the animal is challenging enough to be fun but doesn't take forever (between 10 and 20 minutes, judging by our child testers) and there's no mess!

Our child tester Bodhi Rae gave her dragon "10 out of 10". We really like how sweet and sleek the finished animals look – and that they're made from biodegradable card.

Available at: Amazon and Hobbycraft

13. Build Your Own Paper Plane Launcher, £19.99

– Great for eco-friendly construction

Build Your Own Paper Plane Launcher with child tester

Age suitability: 8+ | Best for age: 8+ | Size: L36cm x W5cm x H25cm | Batteries: None

With this ingenious, eco-friendly 47-piece construction kit you can build you an impressive-looking, elastic-band-powered cardboard paper-plane launcher and 10 different fold-and-fly planes to launch from it.

There's no cutting out or glueing involved; you simply press out the pieces and slot them together, following the picture-based instructions. It takes about 1 hour to assemble the launcher – which, thrillingly, has power-indicator settings and can, if you get your aerodynamics right, propel paper planes up to 20 metres away.

Our child tester George, 8 (pictured above), really enjoyed building his launcher all by himself and then firing the planes into the air. "The best bit's seeing how far the planes go," he said. "My friends should get one too and then we could all have a big flying contest!"

Comes with 4 scoring targets to aim at.

Available at: Amazon and Build Your Own

14. Drone Home, £21.99

– Great family game

Drone Home with child tester

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 8+ | Size: Various | Batteries: 4 x AAA batteries (not included)

A board game featuring a real flying drone? Yes, really! The aim of the game is to launch your aliens up a ramp and into the drone, which will take off once one is inside. But other players can try to knock your alien out with their own before the drone lifts off.

Our child tester Wyatt, 8 (pictured above), LOVED this game – as did his whole family – and his mum Rebecca said there were all "screaming with excitement" as they played.

"I love how the drone flies off with the alien inside it," said Wyatt. "It flies so high to the ceiling, it makes me laugh so much!"

For 2 to 4 players.

Available at: Argos and Amazon

15. Brainstorm Toys 450x Microscope, £31.50

– Great for science lovers

brainstorm 450X microscope with child tester

Age suitability: 8+ | Best for age: 8+ | Size: L15cm x W17cm x H28cm | Batteries: 2 x AAA (not included)

This illuminated microscope magnifies objects on 3 settings, up to 450 x, and comes with 3 prepared slides, blank slides, a petri dish and a booklet.

Our child tester Jackson, 8 (pictured above), said: "I like using this. You can see spidery shapes through it and things look very close up. I feel big using it!"

We like that the instructions explain how to make your own slides (the prepared ones feature algae, plastic and synthetic fibres). Not bad value for money, too.

Available from: Amazon

16. Game of Life, £23

– Great game for social skills

Game of Life

Age suitability: 8+ | Best for age: 8+ | Size: L28cm x W40cm x H4cm (when boxed) | Batteries: None

In this fun-for-all-the-family game, you move your car along the board, making 'life choices' along the way about everything from jobs to kids to money. The player with the most money at the end wins.

This game has been around since we were little so there's a warm nostalgia factor here. It has been updated and is a little more modern but still lots of fun (though the pieces are a bit fiddlier to handle). Our child testers quickly picked up the rules and particularly enjoyed adopting pets and winning the paper money. Takes about an hour to play.

Comes with cards, tokens, spinner, play money and instructions. For 2 to 4 players.

Available at: Amazon and Argos

Images: Product websites and MadeForMums child testers

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About the author

Helen is Deputy Editor of MadeForMums, the author of Parenting for Dummies (Wiley, £17.99) and the Head Tester for our MadeForMums Toy Awards. She has written about parenting for Mumsnet, Pregnancy & Birth, Prima Baby, Boots Parenting Club and She Magazine and she's also been Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby. She has 3 boys and a heavy-duty washing machine.

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Authors

Helen Brown
Helen BrownHead of Content Delivery

Helen is author of the classic advice book Parenting for Dummies. Before joining MadeForMums over 7 years ago, she was Head of Community at Mumsnet and also the Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby.

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