12 of the best toys for 9 year olds for 2024
Our pick of the toys that make great gifts for boys and girls aged 9 to 10 – from indoor basketball hoops and stop-motion kits to building sets, board games and battling trucks
By the age of 9, your child is likely to be a pretty independent thinker, with emerging – and sometimes pretty passionate – opinions of their own. Their attention span is much longer and their spatial intelligence is rapidly improving. They have much more refined fine-finger skills, meaning they're able to paint, construct, craft, sew and draw in much greater detail. Their gross motor skills are now developed enough to bring more grace, purpose and fluidity to physical movements and sport.
Best toys for 9 year olds at a glance
- Great for eco-friendly board game fun: Fire in the Hole!, £31.99
- Great for indoor active play: Gamez Jam indoor basketball hoop, £31.95
- Great for fine-finger skills: HEXBUG Battlebots Arena MAX, £86.99
- Great for STEM learning: Science Museum Mecha Dragon Kit, £24.99
- Great for silly board game fun: Ravensburger Upside Down Challenge Game, £17.99
- Great for winter themed play: LEGO Friends Holiday Ski Slope, £74.99
- Great for vehicle play: Laser Battle Hunters, £44.51
- Great for outdoor active play: Stomp Rocket Original, £24.99
- Great for budding film makers: Zu3D Animation Kit, £59.95
- Great for competitive board game fun: Froggit, £26.99
- Great for creative play: FunLockets Secret Journal Diary Set, £20
- Great budget buy: Build Your Own Mini Build Ladybird, £9.99
Which type of toys are best for 9 year olds?
With their longer attention span, your 9 year old will now enjoy more complex or more strategic board games, and will have fun with construction toys and problem-solving puzzles that take a fair bit of time and patience to complete.
That's not to say, of course, that your child doesn't still love to have a laugh with some very silly stuff, too.
You'll probably find that your child is less interested in pretend play than they used to be and instead prefer toys that encourage them to do, make or create. There are lots of great multi-stage construction sets and more substantial science/STEM, craft and creative projects aimed at this age group. Some will undoubtedly stretch your child (and they may need a bit of help) but if they stick to the task and complete the build/game/creation, the "look what I've made!" pay-off at the end is always absolutely worth it.
If you have a family Nintendo Switch console, you might want to check out our list of the best Nintendo Switch games for kids, which is broken down by age to help you find games suitable for your child.
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Here's our pick of the best toys for 9-year-olds, as tested by kids and recommended by parents…
1. Fire in the Hole!, £31.99
– Great for eco-friendly board game fun
Age suitability: 7+ | Best for: 9+ | Size: L63cm x W36cm x H24cm | Batteries: None
Awards: Editor's Choice, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022
This amazingly constructed pop-up board game is stunning to look at, hilarious to play and is made entirely of biodegradable materials. You draw cards that allow you – in various ways – to launch your 6 colourful felt cannonballs at the holes in the pirate ship's deck and the aim is to try to land them in a row of 4, vertically or horizontally.
Sounds easy enough but it's actually trickier than you'd think – especially as you have to keep your elbows touching your sides when you throw. And you can make it even harder/sillier by also wearing the pirate eye patches included, as modelled by our child tester William, 9 (pictured above).
"We had a total blast playing this game as a family," said William's mum Elizabeth. "We all loved how the board and ship cleverly folded out. The cannonballs did fly everywhere – which added to the fun. There's even a QR-linked Spotify playlist of suitably pirate-y music to put on while you're playing!"
Our other child tester Lillie, 11, also loved the game's combination of skill and silliness. "It's fun, competitive and funny," she said. Her mum, Janet, added, "We invited some friends round and the girls all played together – the laughter from them all during play was amazing and there were no arguments. It was fabulous and they’ve already organised a rematch."
2. Gamez Jam Mini Basketball Hoop, £31.95
– Great for indoor active play
Age suitability: 3+ | Best for: 9+ | Size: L45cm x H30cm (23.5cm diameter hoop) | Batteries: None
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022
This is – by quite some way – the best indoor basketball hoop we've tested. The 1/4 scale, shatterproof polycarbonate backboard is 4mm-thick, making it much less bendy than others on the market and the hoop itself has a brilliant spring-action breakaway rim, so you can do some proper slamming.
The hooks are designed to fit over any door up to 50mm thick and there's plenty of foam padding to prevent scratching and reduce noise, although we're not going to pretend this is ever going to be a completely silent toy.
"I've improved my aim and scored lots of goals," said our child tester, Amelia, 9 (pictured above). "It's good fun and quite hard and I know my friends would like it too."
Comes with 2 mini basketballs and a ball pump.
Available at: Amazon
3. HEXBUG BattleBots Arena MAX, £86.99
– Great for fine-finger skills
Age suitability: 8+ | Best for: 8+ | Size: L71cm x H71cm | Batteries: 9 x AAA and 4 x LR44 (included)
Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022
An upgrade on the original BattleBots Arena – the MAX is 50% bigger – this easy-to-build robot-duelling set is very robust and has hammers in 2 corners and, along 1 side, a spinning auger (like a spiralling drill bit) for some extra jeopardy.
"This is such fun – and the screw bit is wicked!" said our child tester Charlie, 9 (pictured above). "I love how the hammers smash the robots too."
Charlie's mum – and playing opponent – Zoe found the remote-control units for the robots a little too small for grown-up hands to operate easily but Charlie didn't have any problem at all. "The robots move really quickly," said Zoe. "We love how the parts of them come flying off yet you can fix them easily again. It's good and sturdy and I like the spikiness of the trim around the arena – it gives it more of an edge."
It's not cheap but, given the enthusiastic reaction of both our child testers – and rather too much robot-smashing in the MadeForMums office – we'd say this is a toy that definitely delivers on the excitement front.
Comes with a Tombstone BattleBot and a Build-Your-Own-Tank Bot (with multiple configurations), each with armour and weapons.
Available at: Amazon
4. Science Museum Mecha Dragon Kit, £24.99
– Great for STEM learning
Age suitability: 8+ | Best for: 9+ | Size: 45.1cm x 31.1cm x 7.0cm| Batteries: AA batteries x 4
This construction kit builds motorised mecha-dragon is great for children with an interest in technology, electronics and, of course, dragons. 3 motors help the wings and mouth move and there are also 12 different game modes available to expand the play potential.
Through the build, kids will engage with various principals of robotics making it both educational and entertaining. You can also download the app – where you'll find additional ways to interact with the model.
Available at: Currys
5. Ravensburger UpsideDown Challenge Game, £17.99
– Great for silly board game fun
Age suitability: 7+ | Best for: 9+ | Size: L20cm x W20cm x H10cm (box) | Batteries: None
The aim of this board game is to see if you can complete simple challenges, such as writing your name or high-fiving another player, while wearing plastic goggles that flip your vision upside down.
It's a great, silly game to play with friends or older relatives – there are 2 difficulty levels for each challenge, so it works well across the age ranges. Our child tester Scarlett, 9 (pictured above), found it hilarious watching her mum and her dad struggling to do some of the tasks. "I thought it was really fun," she said, "and it made us all laugh when we played it. I liked doing the water challenges the best because the water went everywhere!"
It's worth noting that some of the challenges do involve props you need to find from around the house (such as empty toilet rolls).
Comes with 32 challenge cards, a timer and instructions. For 2 to 6 players.
6. LEGO Friends Holiday Ski Slope, £74.99
– Great for winter themed play
Age suitability: 8+| Best for: 9+ | Size when built: 54cm x 28.2cm x 7.85cm | Batteries: None | Awards: Gold Award at the MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023
This 980-piece LEGO Friends set has a lovely inclusive, wintery theme: you build a snow covered ski slope, and a cafe complete with local wildlife and holiday makers.
"It looks really good and I like that I can display it in my bedroom," said child tester Annabelle, 9, "It is fun to slide the sledge and skiers down the slope and I love the vending machine and hot chocolates"
The accessories are fun – we love the log cabin design – and we really rate how the 4 mini figures come with extra heads, so you can have them changing expression.
"My daughter loved building this lego set she is 9 and was able to build most of it alone," said mum Sarah. "However I do think that building lego sets together is a nice bonding experience and we enjoyed building this together."
7. Laser Battle Hunters, £44.51
– Great for vehicle play
Age suitability: 8+ | Best for age: 9+ | Size: H19cm | Batteries: 14 x AA (not included)
These 2 radio-controlled, 4-wheel drive combat vehicles have all-terrain tyres, sound effects and built-in infra-red cannons that fire laser beams (oh yes).
They can zoom forwards and backwards, and drift sideways, at a top speed of 4.3km/hr, which is pretty speedy! But they do eat batteries (and you need a lot of them), with a running time of approx 30 minutes per car.
Our child tester Theo, 9 (pictured above), enjoyed playing by himself (you can turn 1 vehicle into a moving target for the other one to fire at) but he absolutely loved playing 'battle mode' with his dad at the controls of the 2nd vehicle.
Great sound effects and very cool recoil action when the lasers fire!
8. Stomp Rocket Original, £24.99
– Great for outdoor active play
Age suitability: 9+ | Best for age: 9+ | Size: L15cm x W10cm x H25cm | Batteries: None
This classic toy has been relaunched for new generations of rocket-loving fans and it's as much fun now as we remember way back when. The premise is dead simple: you set up your rocket on the yellow frame and then supply power by stomping or jumping on the red 'launcher'. It can send rockets up to 400ft in the air and .
"The whole family, ranging from 8 to 80 years, enjoyed playing with this," said Lacy, mum of our child tester Oscar, who's nearly 9. "None of us could believe how high the rockets went!"
We also like how portable it is: you can take it with you to play with at other people's houses, the park, or on a picnic. Just be careful not to blast your rocket into someone else's sandwich…
Comes with 3 'high-performance' rockets.
Available at: John Lewis
9. Zu3D Animation Kit, £59.95
– Great for budding film makers
Age suitability: 8+ | Best for age: 9+ | Size: Various | Batteries: None
This kit contains all you need to create your own stop-motion animations à la Wallace and Gromit. It features a USB webcam with adjustable stand and manual focus and 2 licences for software (for Mac, PC or iPad) that includes sound effects, music, titles and artwork. It also comes with 8 strips of modelling clay, a mini set, a 'green screen' cloth and a handbook.
This kit is used in over 1,000 UK schools and we can see why: the camera is robust and easy to focus, and editing and adding sounds, backgrounds and credits is very intuitive.
Our child tester wasn't super-keen on making modelling-clay figures, so used LEGO figures instead – and had enormous fun. The 'green screen' cloth is great but works better if you iron it first.
10. Froggit, £26.99
– Great for competitive board game fun
Age suitability: 7+ | Best for age: 9+ | Size: 45cm diameter (unboxed) | Batteries: None
In this board game, you vie to be first to get your frog family across the lilypads to the other side of the pond – without getting blocked by another player or scared back to the start by the big fish.
We're impressed by how easy the game's rules are to pick up and how adaptable it is to the age and mood of the people you're playing with: you can opt for the Junior Level (fast and furious) or the Expert Level (more strategic).
"This is a really cool game," said our child tester Archie, 9 (pictured above). "I like trying to beat my brother by moving the big fish. And I really want to try playing it with 5 friends at a time – I think that's going to be epic!"
For 2 to 6 players.
Available at: Amazon
11. FunLockets Secret Journal Diary Set, £20
– Great for creative play
Age suitability 6+ | Best for age: 9+ | Size: L16cm x H19cm | Batteries: None
Loaded with secret compartments and hidden keys, this solid-sided diary set comes with over 30 accessories, including a notepad, glittery pencil, unicorn charm keyring, sticker sheets, bookmark, stencil shapes, stationery items and 2 secret messages.
It's very pink and it's very plastic but all the hidden bits and bobs thrilled our child tester Kaiya. "It's really cute and fun," she said, "and it has lots to do. My favourite part is opening all the sections and seeing what is behind each door."
We like how you can personalise it with stickers, and the unicorn keyring is undeniably cute.
Available at: Argos
12. Build Your Own Mini Build Ladybird, £9.99
– Great budget buy
Age suitability: 8+ | Best for age: 9+ | Size: L19cm | Batteries: None
This cardboard construction set has 27 parts that slot together to make a 3-D ladybird, complete with wings that rotate to mimic the spotty bug's real life movement. It also comes with a press out fact stand for displaying your finished creation.
The clever, mess-free construction doesn't need any additional materials like glue or scissors and the instructions are really clear and easy to follow – it's about a 20-minute build in total.
"I really like how you can play with it after you've built it, rather than other models that just go on the shelf" said our child tester Lilli, who's just turned 10 (pictured above).
Her mum Jennifer added: "It came came out brilliant! It's a good size to keep and it's really sturdy. We have similar building kits made out of wood that have easily broken just putting it together but this is very well made – even with the moving wings it stays very stable. The information booklet that came with it was very informative, too."
Available at: Build Your Own
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.
We've got more top tested and rated toys here...
Helen is author of the classic advice book Parenting for Dummies and a mum of 3. Before joining MadeForMums, she was Head of Community at Mumsnet and also the Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby.
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