Are you looking for the perfect gift for a child in your life? I’ve compiled a list of awesome, educational and activity-based gift ideas for preschoolers and elementary-age kids that cover a range of interests. Each gift idea offers opportunities for children to explore their world through intentional, engaging and fun activities. As a bonus, many of items on the list are also eco-friendly gifts for kids.
This post contains affiliates links, which do not impact your purchase price, should you choose to buy something.
Every year around birthdays and holidays, I reflect on what gifts to buy for our kids. They really don’t need anything, but they love receiving a few thoughtful gifts. Family and friends also enjoy buying them gifts, which I completely understand. I suspect I’m not the only parent on the hunt for some high-quality, eco-friendly and educational gifts for kids.
Most of the items on the kids gift lists below have eco-friendly or zero waste qualities. All the gift ideas provide opportunities for cognitive development and many are open-ended toys that will engage children in a variety of ways and over a wide range of ages.
I’ve included over 60 gifts on the list, sorted by interest categories. To make it easier to find my absolute favorite gift ides for kids, I marked them with an “*”.
I hope you find perfect gifts for the children in your life!
60+ Awesome Gifts To Help Kids Explore Their World
Little Global Citizens
*Global Guardian Project Course & World Map | This e-course helps children learn about their world and how they can take good care of it. It has modules covering ocean conservation, animal protection, rainforest conservation, reducing waste and more. For the holidays, the course is discounted by $50 and comes with a world map coloring poster. This is a gift that will keep on giving for an entire year!
World Globe | Help children understand their geographic perspective in the world relative to everyone else with a globe. Having a globe in the house offers so many opportunities to talk about the world, the people that live on it, and the science that keeps it turning.
Little Passports | Let your kids explore the world right from their own home each month. Every box comes with an activity booklet kids can use to explore a new place around the world or in the United States, depending on which box you choose.
*Around The World Stories Subscription | Each week, children receive a new audio story that highlights the culture and traditions of a different part of the world. The stories are written and shared by a family that is traveling is the world together, and the stories reflect recent places they have visited. Each story also come with a parent guide that includes recipes and other activities parents and children can try together. My boys have this and the stories are great! You can download them to your phone or tablet and listen to them anywhere you want.
Atlas Crate | Explore a new destination each month. Each box highlights one place through art projects, recipes, and more.
*Picture Books | See the world without leaving home through picture books, the most quintessential and practical way to explore the world. Start by checking out my book lists for great books about Taking Care of our Earth and Water Conservation.
*Green Craft Kids Discovery and Junior Discovery Boxes | These are no ordinary science kits. Each month children receive a box that includes a fun STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) activity or experiment. The kit also includes a related magazine. All materials in the kit are eco-friendly and arrive in recycled packaging. The company partners with CarbonFund to offset 100% of the carbon produced by the company.
Periodic Table of Elements Blocks | Made from sustainable wood, these high quality blocks represent each element on the periodic table. They are not only great for building for also perfect for budding little scientists.
*WOW in the World Pop Up Party Tickets | If you don’t listen this the kid’s podcast, I highly recommend it! It’s engaging for adults and children alike. Currently, they are traveling around the country hosting a few live shows. If you are in the area, consider getting tickets to see the show in person! They also have a membership program, the World Organization of Wowzers, that offers exclusive weekly activities including crafts, recipes, and early access to the shows.
Little Passports Science Expeditions | This kit is so neat! Each month, the child receives a kit with a mystery to solve using science. The kit includes instructions for the experiment as well as a related comic book and videos to accompany the kit.
*Mini Guitar | How amazing is this guitar?! The guitar comes with cards and app to help children learn to play chords and songs on their new guitar. The company also makes some adorable accessories for it like the mini guitar stand and this super cute backpack.
Spotify Membership | If your child loves music, buy them a Spotify Premium membership and let them create their own playlists. They can also take their favorite playlists with them on your phone or tablet to listen in the car.
Music Lessons | Find a local music center or check out a national music company like Guitar Center to find music lessons. Younger children will likely do best with piano or violin lessons. Older children can start trying other instruments later in elementary school.
Xylophone | Let young children explore music with this colorful xylophone. The xylophone is made from pesticide-free rubber wood as well as PlanWood, an eco-friendly material that minimizes waste and reclaims fewer trees.
DIY Headphones | Kids design their own headphones with this white set paired with markers and art supplies. No one will have a pair exactly like theirs.
KidiJamz DJ Studio | With this toy, kids explore the world of mixing and remixing sounds to make music.
DIY Cardboard Speaker Set | Children make their own speakers with kraft brown cardboard and art supplies to decorate the speakers however they would like.
Boomerang | This is a classic toy any child will love no matter what sports they play. Because it’s small, they can take it with them wherever they go.
*Jump Rope | A jump rope is perfect for any active kid. This jump rope is adjustable. The handles are made of recycled plastic and the rope is made of organic cotton. The rope is packed in a box with recycled and recyclable materials.
Eco-Friendly Frisbee | Sports-obsessed kids can create games to run around and play together with this frisbee. This saucer is made of 100% recycled plastic grocery bags.
*Fair Trade Soccer Ball | These FIFA performance quality soccer balls are made in Pakistan and are Fair Trade certified. You can also check out another brand, Senda, that also makes fair trade soccer balls for another alternative.
Sports Science Kits | Explore ways to become a better athlete using science. This kit includes seven experiments kids can try to learn more about the science of sports.
Penny Hockey Game | This little game is handmade and is perfect for kids play when they don’t have space to really put on their skates.
Natural Face Paint | Kids love painting their faces! This face paint is certified non-toxic, and it is free of nano particles, heavy metals, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, petroleum-based pigments and animal products. It also comes with bamboo brush applicators.
Eco-Friendly Play Dough | These doughs are vegan, gluten-free and soy-free. The are made with 100% organic wheat-free rice flour, sodium, water, moisturizing oils, and natural aromas.
Eco-Kid Art Pad | This “treeless” paper is made from the discarded stalks of banana trees (or pinzotes), which would otherwise have gone to waste. This cover is made from FSC certified paper and printed using soy inks. The company holds the Rainforest Alliance certification, an indication of their commitment to environmental protection.
Veggie Finger Paint | These eco-friendly, vegan finger paints are perfect for kids. They come as powders can be mixed into paint. They contain no wheat, no dairy, no sugar and no preservatives. The same company also makes veggie organic crayons.
*Personalized Coloring Books | Children loving seeing themselves in their books. How about a personalized coloring book? So cool, right?
Scratch Art Box of Rainbow Mini Notes | With these scratch off note pads, kids get creative with their notes and drawings to discover the colorful background on the paper. These are so neat!
Easel | Give your little artist a place to create their master pieces with this wooden easel from Melissa and Doug.
Little Book Worms
The Story Box | If you’re not sure what books to buy, let someone else do the work. There are many book box subscriptions for kids. I like that this box includes guides to go beyond the book and also donates books and other educational materials to benefit children with disabilities and children from low-income families. Get $6 off your first order with code TAKESIX.
Bookroo Chapter Books Subscription | For older children, Bookroo offers a chapter book box. Chapter books can be harder to choose for children because you can’t scan and vet them entirely before passing them along to your kids. In addition to two high-quality chapter books, the box includes a parent guide to discuss the book with your children.
Put Me In The Story | Kids love seeing themselves in books. Create a totally unique story personalized just for them.
*Audible Subscription | Let you children listen to books while you’re running errands or just while they are at home playing with toys. There are lots of great children books on Audible. A few of our favorites are the Beverly Cleary series like Ramona and Henry Huggins, My Father’s Dragon, and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.
*Kindle for Kids | Designed just for reading, let your kids read all the books they want without being distracted by advertisements, apps or the Internet.
*Library Card | Head to your local library and get your child their own library card. Download the Libby app so they can check out e-books and audiobooks from the library for free. If you aren’t a regular library user, check out my post about lots of tips to make the most of your local library.
CD Player | Children can listen to audio books on CD, checked out from the library, with this little CD player while they color, play with blocks, or just relax. There are many on the market, but we have this simple one and it’s great.
Solar Book Light | Recharge the batteries on this book light using solar power. It’s perfect for the little book worm who needs to read just a few more pages before bed.
*Lulu Jr. IlluStory Book Making Kit | Let your child write and illustrate their own story. With this kit, you can send their work back to Lulu to have it published into a real book. They also have a Illustory Jr. version for younger children.
Grandparent + Grandchild Pen Pal Kit | Is this not the cutest set? It comes with all the items needed for children to write back and forth with their grandparents.
Rory’s Story Cubes | Children use these cubes to help them generate amazing and imaginative stories. Each jumbo 1″ cube has 6 images or icons, with a total of 54 images that can be mixed in over 10 million ways. You roll all 9 cubes to generate 9 random images and then use these to invent a story that starts with “Once upon a time…” and uses all 9 elements as part of your narrative. In addition to the original set, they also have sets with specific themes.
Boggle Junior | This is such a fun game to explore playing with words and learning new words.
*Kidstir Cooking Boxes | Each kit comes with all the tools and recipes a child needs to create their own meal. You can subscribe to receive a box monthly or choose a single box that you think your child will love.
Joie Wavy Chopper Knife | This is a great tool for children to use for cutting and chopping that is safer than using a traditional knife. Our boys started using this at a kids’ cooking class and have been using it for years.
Kid-Friendly Knife Set | These cute and useful knives with stainless steel blades are perfect to introduce younger children to the basics of cutting and cooking.
Kids Apron (Organic Cotton, Fair Trade) | Made from organic cotton, this kid-size apron is a perfect accessory to learning the ropes in the kitchen.
*The Forest Feast for Kids Cookbook | This cookbook is full of kid-friendly vegetarian recipes, and each is simple enough that kids can help make all of them. We already own and love this book.
Re-Play Recycled Plastic Kids Dishware | Plates, bowls, spoons, and more that are just the right size for kids. They are made from FDA approved recycled milk jugs and come in lots of fun colors for kids. They can serve all of their tasty kid-made meals on these simple, dishwasher safe dishes.
Wooden Make A Cake Set by Melissa and Doug | This high-quality play mixer comes with several pieces and a recipe card so little ones can get creative with their baking when they aren’t helping out in the real kitchen.
Kid-Friendly Cookie Cutters | These cookie cutters come in a variety of fun shapes perfect for kids. They are made of stainless steel so they don’t lose their shape and have a plastic top so they are easier to use for kids. They can also be used for sandwiches, fruit, and other healthy snacks.
Meal Maker Dough Set | Make an entire meal with this set of dough and tools from Green Toys. The dough is made with organic flour and the tools are made from 100% recycled milk jugs. It’s also packaged in recycled and recyclable materials with no plastic films or twist ties, and printed with soy ink. They also have a Cake Maker Dough Set.
Cookware and Dining Play Set | Also from Green Toys, this set includes plates, bowls, utensils, pots and pans. All the pieces are made in the United States from 100% recycled milk jugs.
YOXO Eco-Friendly Building Kit | This kit includes 120 pieces and is manufactured from durable, eco-friendly, recycled wood fiber. The pieces can be used to create a variety of shapes, creatures and items.
*Classic Legos | Lego sets are great, but the Classic boxes allow for more creativity, open-ended play, and use in many different ways.
*Magical Tree Fort Kit | This forest-themed building set is so magical and totally unique. It’s a great gift that’s not only beautiful but also looks like so much to play with. Each fort is unique and made from salvaged tree branches.
Green Toys Tool Set | Any child can build whatever their imagination dreams up. The tool set comes in blue or pink, and it’s made of 100% recycled plastic. It’s also packaged with recycled and recyclable materials and printed with soy inks.
Tool Belt | This fabric tool belt comes with its own tools and is super cute. The eco-friendly toy tool belt is made from chemical-free rubberwood. The materials are non-toxic including lead-free water-based paints and non-formaldehyde glue. The packaging is made from recycled and recyclable materials.
Magna-Tiles | These are a classic toy and are great for all sorts of building. Magnets allows the pieces to be put together in a variety of ways. These are durable and long-lasting, and suitable for a range of ages.
Crazy Forts Construction Kit | Just about every child loves building and playing in forts. This kit makes that a whole lot easier.
*Fort Building Clips | If you already have plenty of blankets for building forts, these fort clips are perfect for kids to use to build the fort of their dreams.
Keva Contraptions Ball and Plank Kit | Build all sorts of ball runs with this set of wooden planks. Kids and parents can do this together, and then knock it down to do it all again.
Classic Wooden Blocks | Nothing beats the classic wooden blocks that lead to endless creativity and building.
Little Animal-Lovers (animals and dinosaurs)
*Shark and Ocean Animal Puzzles | This set of 2 puzzles, each with 100 pieces, teaches children about 36 types of sharks and 36 ocean animals while also being a fun jigsaw puzzle. The puzzles are printed with soy-based ink on recycled cardboard.
Paint By Stickers Kids Animal Books | Sticker by sticker, fill in the abstract shapes to create an image of animal. These are fun for kids, pretty clean, and also great for road trips or an activity to keep hands busy during read aloud time. The books come in many themes including zoo animals, sea creatures, bugs, and more.
Tickets to Visit The Local Zoo | Check out your local zoo and let the kids explore with this experiential gift. It’s a great chance to spend time together sharing one of your child’s favorite interests.
Kid-Size Animal Lunch Boxes and Backpacks | Skip Hop makes the cutest line of lunch boxes and backpacks that are shaped like all sorts of animals and just the right size for kids. They can use it to carry their lunch, their toys, or even when they travel. This monkey lunch box and dinosaur backpack are two of my favorites.
*Wild Kratts Live! Tour Tickets | This PBC show is the best show for kids who love animals. It takes kids on adventures around the world to learn about creature powers and endangered species. They have a live tour, so check to see if they are coming to your area.
Wild Kratts 100 Piece Puzzle | We are big fans of puzzles in our house, and anything with Wild Kratts is popular.
Animal Mask Kit | Without a need for scissors, this kit includes supplies to make six animal masks that are easy enough for preschoolers to make almost entirely on their own. The materials are made from recycled paper printed with vegetable inks.
Map of the World with Animal Landmarks | Made with kids in mind, this world map highlights each of the continents and then shows where various animals live around the globe.
Magnetology Dinosaurs Book | In this book, kids can use 45 magnets of all sorts of dinosaurs to create their own scenes on the pages while also learning about the prehistoric creatures. We have this and our younger son in particular really enjoys playing with it.
Dog Puppet Making Kit | Children create their own dog puppets with this kit. Pieces are are made premium reclaimed wool.
Animal Pals Memory Game | Aniaml-themed memory game cards that are easy for small children to use. They are made from recycled content printed with vegetable inks.