Ten must-have gifts for Chicago kids in late elementary


We know how it goes: the holiday season has arrived, so you're in a race against time to find some gifts that a) your kids will actually like; b) fit your budget; and c) can be bought, wrapped and handed over to the munchkins sometime near the appropriate holiday.

So this year, we did the work for you. We visited 10 toy stores in and around Chicago to find this holiday season's hottest items. Best of all, every gift is less than $50, so you won't break the bank in order to see that awed expression on your child's face.

Here are the results for Late Elementary (8-10 years).

- Elizabeth Diffin


SmartLab Toys You-Build-It Headphones

Move over, Dr. Dre - now kids can make their own Beats! This kit allows kids to assemble headphones that light up and flash to the music. While they follow along in the instruction book, they'll also be learning about electricity and sound.

8+, $24.95


Educational Insights Nancy B’s Science Club Microscope and Activity Journal

Science kits don't have to be frilly to catch girls' attention, which is why we love these products that tailor science to the female set without painting it pink. Each item comes with a journal, so kids can write, draw and keep record of their experiments.

8+, $39.99


Can You Imagine Light-Up Air Power Soccer Disk

It could be a months until the neighborhood soccer fields dry out, so bring the fun inside with this hovering disk. Play traditional soccer or change it into life-sized air hockey or a twist on bowling. Good for low-pile carpeting, wood floors, sidewalks and driveways.

6+, $19.99


Thinkfun Laser Maze

Can you direct a laser beam through a maze using your brain? Sounds impossible, but that's the object of this mental workout that features challenges for beginners to experts. Gives a whole new meaning to "brain power."

8+, $29.99


ALEX Toys All Duct Out

It's true what they say: duct tape can do anything, including making belts, jewelry, headbands and glasses. This kit comes with everything your kid needs to make ducted accessories (especially the easy-to-follow instructions).

7+, $27.95


Red Toolbox Toolbox and 6-Piece Toolset

It's never too early to start raising a handyman (or woman). This kid-sized toolbox comes preloaded with a hammer, Phillips screwdriver, handsaw, file, tape measure and safety goggles. Just add a to-do list!

8+, $49.99


Asmodee Timeline: Diversity

Which came first, the superhero or the coffeemaker? That's the challenge of this game, where kids and parents attempt to arrange events correctly based on when they took place. You'll learn a little history and a little trivia-while having a lot of fun.

8+, $14.99



The perfect game for when you're waiting at a restaurant, the doctor's office or a parking lot. Just roll the dice until someone gets all their dice on the same number. Easy, fast-and anyone can play!

7+, $14.95


Rory’s Story Cubes

Your kids already know how to tell some pretty tall tales, but this game redirects their creativity in a more positive direction. Roll the dice and then come up with a story that connects the nine images. We have a feeling hilarity will ensue.

8+, $9.99


Where We Shopped:

  • Becky & Me Toys, Gleview (additional location in Evanston); beckyandmetoys.com
  • Building Blocks Toy Store, Lakeview neighborhood, Chicago (additional location in Wicker Park neighborhood, Chicago); buildingblockstoys.com
  • Cat and Mouse Game Store, Bucktown neighborhood, Chicago; cat-n-mouse.com/ocart/
  • Galt Toys + Galt Baby, Skokie (additional locations downtown and in Lincoln Park neighborhood, Chicago); galtbaby.com
  • Geppetto's Toy Box, Oak Park; geppettostoybox.com
  • Marbles: The Brain Store, Skokie (additional locations in Naperville, Schaumburg, and downtown and Lincoln Square neighborhood, Chicago); marblesthebrainstore.com
  • My Favorite Toy Store, Downers Grove (additional location in Elmhurst); myfavoritetoystore.com
  • *play, Logan Square neighborhood, Chicago; playlogansquare.com
  • Timeless Toys Ltd., Lincoln Square neighborhood, Chicago; timelesstoyschicago.com
  • Toys et Cetera, Andersonville neighborhood, Chicago (additional locations in Hyde Park and Lincoln Park neighborhoods, Chicago); toysetcetera.com
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