9 to 12 Years
Tween years come with changes, but play still matters. Our gift ideas include comforting music, games for family time, a wild, but age-appropriate, coloring book, and more.
Outside My Door
What it is: With rich jazz piano bounce and a brilliant use of vocabulary and wordplay reminiscent of Michael Franks, singer-songwriter-musician Lori Henriques performs cool, quirky and wise observational songs about growing pains and expanding horizons.
Why we like it: 9 and 10 year olds especially will take comfort in Henriques’ wise, but relatable, lyrics. ”Something You Learn” encourages curiosity and exploration even if “There’ll be days when you don’t want to listen/There’ll be chapters you can’t stand to read.” “If I Had a Twin” resonates with childhood’s wrenching moments of loneliness or misunderstanding: “If I had a twin there’d be/Someone in the skin I’m in/Could she understand me/Would she helping hand me?”. Henriques’ musical inventiveness and keen eye for life’s ups and downs are a stellar combination.
What it is: A game that has players identify the correct suspect from a police line-up. It’s not as easy as it sounds, because each suspect looks incredibly like the next.
Why we like it: The game tests players’ powers of observation.
What it is: This three inch high and four inch diameter, six-legged (don’t spiders have eight legs?) articulated critter is manipulated by a tiny hand held infrared controller with forward/backward and left/right turn buttons.
Why we like it: The controls are easy to learn, and walking the critter through complex maze/obstacle courses becomes a piece of cake.
What it is: A unique card game played with a deck of sixty sturdy, transparent cards with various colors and arrangements of balls and hoops (the term “swish” is a basketball reference).
Why we like it: It’s a fun mind-stretching challenge that’s not as easy as it may appear.
What it is: A three-dimensional version of tic-tac- toe, but more complex. Players push balls through a rubber grid in an attempt to be the first to place three in a row.
Why we like it: The 3D twist and elegant design reinvigorate a simple, classic game. Being able to manipulate the pieces of other players’ adds to the fun.
What it is: Players strive to collect sequences of four or more matching cards by swiping (should this be swapping?) cards with opponents or rearranging or flipping cards within their own hands.
Why we like it: The cards are double-sided; colors on the front seldom match colors on the reverse, so what a player sees is different from what the opponents see.
What it is: Players must wend their way through the labyrinth game board to retrieve treasures assigned at the start of the game.
Why we like it: The game of Labyrinth is as fresh today as when it received a Parents’ Choice Gold Award in 1987, and selected as one of the Best 25 Toys of 25 Years a list commemorating Parents’ Choice Foundation’s 25th anniversary.
What it is: An oversized paperback book with 150 inventive ways to doodle, scribble, color, and draw.
Why we like it: The activities are so imaginative and interactive that this could hardly be mistaken for a coloring book.
What it is: Bowling, Soccer, Track and Field, Boxing, Volleyball and Table Tennis games for the XBox Kinect.
Why we like it: If you have an XBox Kinect, then don’t overlook this title. These superb videogaming sports games will entertain (and exercise) players for hours.
City Square Off
What it is: An easy to play, two-player, strategy game loosely designed around the premise of city planning.
Why we like it: Spatial thinking and strategic planning are tested to players’ (city) limits.