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

Our toy expert visited 10 local stores to bring you the hottest gifts for the holiday season. Here are Chicago Parent’s picks for kids in grades 3-5.

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

8+, $24.95

SmartLab Toys You-Build-It Headphones

Science kits don’t have to be frilly to catch girls’ attention,which is why we love these products that tailor science to thefemale set without painting it pink. Each item comes with ajournal, so kids can write, draw and keep record of theirexperiments.

8+, $39.99

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

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

6+, $19.99

Can You Imagine Light-Up Air Power Soccer Disk

Can you direct a laser beam through a maze using your brain?Sounds impossible, but that’s the object of this mental workoutthat features challenges for beginners to experts. Gives a wholenew meaning to “brain power.”

8+, $29.99

Thinkfun Laser Maze

It’s true what they say: duct tape can do anything, includingmaking belts, jewelry, headbands and glasses. This kit comes witheverything your kid needs to make ducted accessories (especiallythe easy-to-follow instructions).

7+, $27.95

ALEX Toys All Duct Out

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

8+, $49.99

Red Toolbox Toolbox and 6-Piece Toolset

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

8+, $14.99

Asmodee Timeline: Diversity

The perfect game for when you’re waiting at a restaurant, thedoctor’s office or a parking lot. Just roll the dice until someonegets all their dice on the same number. Easy, fast-and anyone canplay!

7+, $14.95


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

8+, $9.99

Rory’s Story Cubes

  • 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 downtownand in Lincoln Park neighborhood, Chicago); galtbaby.com
  • Geppetto’s Toy Box, Oak Park; geppettostoybox.com
  • Marbles: The Brain Store, Skokie (additional locations inNaperville, Schaumburg, and downtown and Lincoln Squareneighborhood, Chicago); marblesthebrainstore.com
  • My Favorite Toy Store, Downers Grove (additional location inElmhurst); myfavoritetoystore.com
  • *play, Logan Square neighborhood, Chicago;playlogansquare.com
  • Timeless Toys Ltd., Lincoln Square neighborhood, Chicago;timelesstoyschicago.com
  • Toys et Cetera, Andersonville neighborhood, Chicago (additionallocations in Hyde Park and Lincoln Park neighborhoods, Chicago);toysetcetera.com

Where We Shopped:

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