* For all of you stuck inside for months, this list may prove to be a lifesaver! Originally published as a gift list, this post will show you how my two ADHD boys can get lost in hours of active, indoor play!! Now at 11 and 13, they still use some of these things. You may already have some of these toys and just need some new inspiration to get them out – OR – you may want to make use of Amazon to bring a few new things to your door. ( some of these links are affiliate ).
***See new additions at the end for what we are loving during our Shelter-in-Place. My 11 and 13 year olds need to burn energy and check out how we’re doing that below.***
Welcome to my first gift list! While this is just in time for the Holidays, its really meant as a go to list to use all year round. This gift guide for ADHD boys(and girls! I just have boys, so I speak most accurately about boys) has been expertly curated by a Simplicity Parenting coach, Montessori teacher and a mom to a tween and a teen with ADHD – that’s all the hats I am lucky enough to wear!
This Gift Guide is different because I use my own photos! I really want to convey how much my boys have used and loved these.
I can honestly say that this Holiday gift guide for ADHD Boys has been 12 years in the making and the criteria to make this list is super stringent. I have always been very picky about the toys and products I bring into our home.
Why are these good gifts for ADHD boys?
- They keep hands, bodies, and brains active and growing – no zoning out on a screen with these. I want kids to build a foundation for play where there is not a screen in sight.
- They are versatile, many can be played alone or with a friend.
- They span the ages and will be played with for years! – super for multi-age families,
- They engage and build creativity and are open-ended to allow for all sorts of play.
- Using these helps a kid’s frustration tolerance grow rather than crash and burn.
- They are high quality and stand up to hard play.
FACT: My boys were not even diagnosed with ADHD when most of these toys came into our home. But they were so busy and active – and these toys satisfied their need to PLAY and MOVE.
I now see how helpful these were in building the skills they have today – creativity, ability to concentrate for long periods of time, tremendous reading skills, off the charts spatial abilities…..the list can go on and on.
This Gift Guide could easily be called: Gifts for Busy Boys, Unplugged Gift Guide for Boys, Brain Boosting Gifts for Kids……
Really, these are not ADHD specific or particularly BOY SPECIFIC – many kids will love them. I just happen to have two ADHD boys who love these..and have seen classrooms of kids of all sorts gravitate towards these, as well. There are many, many toys we’ve had over the years that did not make the cut for this list. I wanted to share just the best of the best.
My toy/gift philosophy in a nutshell:
I go for quality over quantity and look for ideas that will provide hours of open ended play. These ideas allow kids to use critical thinking skills, creativity and engage the brain(or the body!) in new and exciting ways.
This list is not huge. I believe that less is best in everything in life. Fewer choices means kids play more deeply and with more concentration.
Everything on here I either own or have personally used. I love to use real pictures of how my kids use these so you see how much we love them!!
These building toys promote mindfulness and concentration. I love the open-ended nature of most of them because my kids can create anything and we’ve had them for literally 9 plus years! My kids can get lost in these for hours and often used them together to create the ultimate city!
We have had our Kevablocks for about 8 years and they continue to be played with on a regular basis – yes, even by a 13 year old! They are super versatile and their long, thin shape makes them a little different from a regular set of wooden blocks. We have had a set of 200 that has been fine, but you can never have too many of these!
The Quercetti Skyrail Mini Coaster is as fun to set up as it is to play with. This is like a marble run on steroids. We have loved the Quercetti Marble Run, but now the coaster is a bit more complicated and engaging for older boys. You can constantly change the coaster to make unlimited configurations. Great for those loooong winter days. The Marble Run is great for 4 years and older, while the Skyrail Mini Coaster is best for 7 years and older.
My boys played for hours (literally) with my wooden blocks I had as a child. If I didn’t already have them, I would purchase them 1000 times over now! Both of my boys love architecture, have incredible spatial abilities and can concentrate for long periods of time on things that interest them. I really do credit their set of wooden blocks for these valuable skills (along with all the reading aloud I have done!)
The tape roads were purchased for my kids on just about every occasion because they LOVED and used them so much. Building a whole city full of roads is a great way to keep kids active and engaged. They’ll be set for a career in city planning. The tape roads come up easily from wood floors and leave no residue. We’ve had the train track tape, too.
The wooden fence was a fun add-on to corral cars and animals! It can be used with just about any other set we have.
The Lego Advent Calendar has become a bit of a tradition around here. Over the years, we have ordered both the Lego City and Star Wars versions. They are fun to open each morning leading up to Christmas and the Lego figures become part of our collection forever. My boys have to take turns opening the days, so it’s also a lesson in sharing. Order this one early…they do sell out quickly. This year we have the Harry Potter Lego Advent Calendar!
Lego Architecture Studio
Lego Architecture Studio – This is an absolute favorite – still – for my 11 and 13 year olds. The single color lets you concentrate on the architectural details as you build from your imagination.(oh no! It’s been discontinued by Lego! Check on Ebay.) This book or this book give you great ideas, too – with or without the set.
My boys love the Lego Classic sets, too. We love the more specific City and Star Wars sets, but this one really let’s kids use their imagination and create whatever they can dream up. Really they are so much more creative and engaging than a set that only builds one thing. Comes in large and small sets. Last year, my son choose this Classic set when he redeemed a gift card. I was surprised that he did not go for a more commercial, themed set. But, he loved it–and continues to love it – and is making amazing things with it!!
Our Lay-N-Go has been an absolute life saver for lego storage.
Lego clean up and storage is so much easier with this drawstring bag. You just cinch it up and all the legos are kept in one place. Lay it out and legos are visible to create!!
My kids loved their Plan City toys for a very, very long time. We started getting different pieces when they were 3 and added to it every year for awhile. Great for ages 3 to 10! Theres lots of different buildings, cars, trucks and roads to create an entire city, over and over again. eBay is a great place to score some deals on these harder to find items.
My kids collect these and dare I say, they have hundreds of them now! You can start a collection for about a dollar each and there are so many ways to use them. Set up tape roads, draw your own roads, invest in a car play rug. Use them outside in the dirt or snow! The ultimate open ended toy!
There is nothing about these games that makes them specifically for kids with ADHD. Rather it is sitting as a family and connecting with each other that is the reason I have included them. Spending time and connecting with your ADHD kiddo, looking them in the face, sitting next to them on the sofa, working on something together – is the best medicine –THAT is the reason why I am including games in this gift list.
Maybe this will inspire you to go to your game cabinet and get something out tonite. Take a look at our list and see which games we LOVE.
Labyrinth is a super fun game for the whole family. The object of the game is to wind thru the castle maze to find treasures. BUT, each player changes the maze on every turn, so you are constantly rethinking your strategy. The set up is simple, but the ideas are big. This is really fun for the whole family.
Cat Crimes – My younger son got this when he was 8 and we still play it, 3 years later. It’s a mystery solving game with lots of critical thinking involved. Many levels for all ages and abilities. Game time: 5 to 10 minutes per mystery. The great thing is it can be played alone or with a partner.
Ticket to Ride is a great game for a big crowd – or even just two. You build railroads from city to city amassing your empire! The skill level and strategy involved make this great for the 8 to 98 crowd. This is a longer game which is good for building concentration and focus – plan at least 45 minutes. They do have a newer version for younger children, too!
Payday – Another vintage classic! We found ours at a garage sale, but you can get one here. Fun way to talk about spending and saving money, too. Game time: As little as 20 minutes if you choose to just do three months of play.
My kids and I have such fun with this game! Like the old fashioned pen and paper word guessing game, only you play two rounds at once, with each player trying to guess the other’s word.
It’s quick, a great way to practice spelling, and can be whatever level you choose. Ebay is the way to go with this one — find the 1988 version for under 10 bucks.
We learned about this game when we visited Williamsburg, several years ago. Shut the Box or Ferme La Boîte, as it’s known in France, is an old timey game from 12th century Normandy. The dice are rolled, added up and the addends are flipped. Each player tries to flip the entire board before he rolls a number he can’t play. It is a favorite of my kids and my classroom! This is a great gift for ADHD Kids who have trouble learning their math facts.
Indoor Energy Burning Toys
We are huge fans of the Automoblox line of toy cars. My oldest son received a red sports car for his first birthday and we collected them for years. The cars are super high-quality and can be taken apart and interchanged with each other. Switch wheels, people, front ends, etc. to create all new vehicles. My kids have spent hours making tape roads for these all over the house. The cars are big, so their whole body gets involved pushing these around the house.
We use ours to do lots of therapy movements, but it also gets used All. Day. Long. Balancing, sitting, bouncing (sometimes annoyingly often). My kids fight over it, so I probably need to get a second one.
Yoyo’s are coming back–at least at my son’s school –and he is happy to follow this trend. We have had a vintage one for awhile, but a good Duncan yoyo can be purchased for under $8.00. Yoyo’s are great for balance and coordination skills and perseverance–you really have to put some time into practicing to get good.
Oh, have I had fun looking back at old pictures to create this ADHD Gift guide!! We have loved our mini tramp for a long, long time. It certainly gets the energy out! We have jump breaks in the winter so each of us can do 500 jumps while everyone else counts out loud. Really a great investment!! Also, a great thing to search for at Goodwill!
Shelter In Place Update!!
These are the things that are saving us right now as we hunker down and plan to spend time inside. While we do try to get outside and walk each day, my two boys with ADHD have an excessive amount of energy to burn. Can you relate?
Our Mondo Koosh Ball and scooter board are being used on an hourly basis! Zoom Ball is great for an upper body workout(and bi-lateral coordination!) and getting brothers who have been fighting to work together. The whole family has been using it.
Outdoor Energy Burning
There is nothing like a trampoline to get the energy out of any sized kiddo. Great for the heart and lymphatic system and just plain fun, a larger trampoline is a great investment. My kids jump on it year round, day or night. We were lucky enough to receive one like this from a friend when her kids had grown out of it. You can buy one here or check your local Craig’s List for a used version. (Make sure you see it set up first to make sure it’s in safe, working, order.)
Remember this game? We found a set at a thrift store and then had to look online to find the ball. It’s fun!! and hard and takes practice. Super for crossing the midline activities, eye-hand coordination and running around after the ball. Get the kids outside with a set.
This big frisbee is super fun and really easy to throw. It seems to hover a bit more to give kids a chance to get under it, too, making catching it easier, too. We have the 16 ” version and they also make a 30″ one.
We have had a Foxtail of some sort or another for years. They are easy to throw by the tail or the head and fun to chase after wherever they land. This one is so awesome–it lights up as it sails thru the air!! What a perfect way to get outside when it gets dark at 4:30! I would not recommend this in the snow, but anything else goes!
Gifts that promote movement are great anytime of the year, and especially for ADHD kiddos who have a lot of extra energy to burn.
Purposeful work tools
Kids love to work side by side with their parents. Start young and they’ll learn the rewards of doing purposeful work! These make it easier for ADHD kids to do their chores. They kind of make chores fun, too!!
Brooms were brought by the elves for my kids about 8 years ago and were used every single day. So great for fine motor skills and crossing the midline and learning to contribute to the family.
A crumb sweeper makes cleaning the table fun!
Our mop and bucket are still used and mopping is my oldest’s favorite chore!
Books My Boys Love
We are readers in this house! My kids are constantly reading, but these are the books we have chosen to purchase and keep on our shelves for reading over and over again.
Art supplies to keep hands busy(even teens!)
Other things my boys love.
I found one like this at a thrift store about 7 years ago and we get so much mileage out of it!! It’s great to use in the winter when it gets dark so early. My kids love to draw on it using tracing paper. We’ve played with stacking cups, colorful shapes and clear legos also. Here is a smaller, more economical one, if you are not lucky enough to find one at the thrift store!
Both of my boys are so extra-sensory and love a good fuzzy blanket. In the winter it goes under their weighted blanket. Sometimes it makes its way into the car and onto the sofa. This blanket has been a cape and a roof of a cushion fort, too!
Puzzles are so great to promote concentration and visual-spatial skills. We’ve had many over the years, but the Geography ones are the best. My kids have such a broad knowledge of world geography because of their states and continents puzzles.
Check your local thrift store or Craig’s List. We got ours for about 5 bucks at Goodwill. My kids go in phases with ours, so I keep it around for when the mood strikes. So great for keyboarding practice, thank you notes, story writing, pretend play, and budding journalists. This thing is heavy and great for heavy lifting exercises, too.
A good journal
There is something so inviting about a really nice journal. Over the years we’ve had many different kids. This, this, and this one have been favorites. The journals come in the car, to waiting rooms and restaurants, on family trips, and are used to write lego instructions, and draw big plans. We keep a list of the books we’ve read in one, too.
I would love to hear what your kids most favorite, long lasting toy has been-boy or girl! Let me know in the comments or drop me a line at [email protected] Happy shopping!!
Our favorite resources
We order from Amazon for convenience and the price, but I love to support smaller companies as well. These have been our faves over the years.:
The Wooden Wagon @Thewoodenwagon.com
Nova Natural @novanatural.com
Imagine childhood @imaginechildhood.com
Don’t forget to check your local thrift store often to keep all those gently used toys out of a landfill.
*Many of these are affiliate links. I may get a small commission if you purchase these items using these links. Thanks for your support so that I may continue to bring you thoughtful content.