Best Kids Toy and Game Gift Ideas That Build Character

best toy and game gift ideas that teach good character

Whether it's the holidays or a birthday, it's easy for kids to get caught up in themselves and some less desirable character traits. Sure, you want to get them that special gift they really want. But how about all those other little toys you give your kids? Wouldn’t it be great if you could sneak in some toys that do good for them? Games and toys that are fun, but also build good character traits? Well, here are some good gift ideas that boys and girls will love, that also build good traits and social skills like self-esteem, caring, cooperation, and respect. By the way, these are also good gift ideas for teachers who can use them in the classroom.

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Books Videos Songs Activities / Lesson Plans

Games and Toys that teach good character traits and social skills

These games are a great idea for spending time together after the holiday meal. Shut off the TV and gather around for some old-fashioned family fun. Only with these games, you family is building good traits like cooperation, respect, and listening skills.

What's it? Game

Traits: cooperation, respect
Grade level: lower elementary, upper elementary
This cooperative game is fun for the boys, girls, and adults alike. You look at doodles and write down ideas about what the doodle could be, based on a category. Everyone gets to share ideas and gets points for answers they have in common with other players. It’s a great way to do something as a family that is low stress, builds respect and appreciation for differences, and you play as a team against a mystery “Doodler”, so there’s no sibling rivalry!

Stone Soup

Traits: cooperation, thinking skills
Grade level: preschool, kindergarten and lower elementary
Another cooperative game, this one is geared toward younger elementary aged children. As players collect ingredients to “cook” a soup, all players work as a team toward a common goal, learning about helping others, cooperation, and creative problem solving.

This or That?

Traits: respect for others ideas, thinking skills
Grade level: lower elementary, upper elementary
Smelly or Slimy? Chocolate or Vanilla? With simple questions, this cooperative game for kids 10+ is a fun way to get to know each other. The game ends when everyone has guessed someone else’s answer correctly 5 times. It’s a great way to get boys and girls talking, sharing, and respecting each other’s differences. If you want a slightly more in-depth version that really shows you how your kids think, try Choices in a Jar or Would you Rather?. They both have similar ideas, but Choices features dilemmas and Would you Rather has more unusual questions.

Boys and Girls Skills Books

Traits: self-esteem / self-confidence
Grade level: lower elementary, upper elementary
Knowing that you are able is a key element to building self-esteem. Help kids explore their world and develop confidence in their own abilities with these fun books that introduce good old-fashioned skills that boys and girls should know. Click on the images for each book to get purchase links.

Cranium Family Edition

Traits: teamwork / sportsmanship, respect, cooperation
Grade level: lower elementary, upper elementary
The perfect game for families, your team has to work together, using collective talents to win challenges in building, flipping, sketching, sculpting, and guessing. It’s light-hearted and cooperative fun, with a win-lose element that is an important way to learn sportsmanship and how to treat others with respect, regardless of the outcome.

Friends and Neighbors

Traits: empathy, compassion, understanding feelings, kindness
Grade level: Preschool and Kindergarten
This is a social-emotional game for younger children that helps develop empathy and compassion. Children match emotion cards, learning to read facial expressions and feelings-- the first step in learning empathy.

Totika Self Esteem Game

Traits: self-esteem, respect for others
Grade level: upper elementary
This game puts a twist on the classic “Jenga” stacking game. Players answer questions that emphasize self-esteem and social skills as they remove blocks from the tower. You might be surprised how the game gets your child to open up and share feelings, and how easily you can offer tidbits of character building advice along the way.

The UnGame

Traits: respect, listening skills, self-esteem / self-confidence
Grade level: lower elementary, upper elementary
It’s the “Ungame” because it’s a non-competitive communication game that can be a great ice-breaker, or a launching point for more in-depth discussions on thoughts, feelings and ideas. One of the key features is that players have to listen patiently to each other, building better listening skills and encouraging respect for others’ ideas.

Beat the Parents

Traits: self-esteem / self-confidence
Grade level: lower elementary, upper elementary
If you want to build self-esteem, start with some self-confidence. The great thing about “Beat the Parents” games is that grown ups do things kids are good at, and kids do things grown ups are good at. This helps kids build a sense of self-respect as they understand they have skills that are appropriate to their age and experience-- and they're better at some things than even their parents. Beat the Parents Board Game is question/answer-oriented where grown ups answer questions about kid topics like TV shows, and kids answer general knowledge questions that grown ups might know (but it’s not too hard). The Beat the Parents Family Challenge brings physical and mental challenges together for some silly fun.

Building Kit

Traits: self-esteem / self-confidence
Grade level: lower elementary with help, upper elementary
A key to self-esteem is knowing that you are competent—that you are able to do things. Building kits are a great way for kids to gain confidence in their own abilities, whether they do it with some help or by themselves. And every time they see the finished project, they are reminded of their abilities which reinforces positive self-esteem. Birdhouse, Wooden Cars

Start where you are

Traits: self-awareness, feelings, self-esteem
Grade level: upper elementary, middle school, high school, adult
With inspirational quotes and beautiful design, the book includes activities that encourage one to explore emotions, experiences, character traits and more aspects on a journey to self awareness. They’ll enjoy filling in the pages with their own experiences, while building their confidence, self esteem, and healthy habits.


Traits: kindness, respect, responsibility
Grade level: lower elementary, upper elementary
In this matching game, children match a choice with a consequence. For kids, its fun because you can play it as a matching game, Go Fish style or other iterations. The game is fun for grown ups because you see how your children think through character building situations, and it gives you am opportunity to guide their thought process. Dealing with topics like “playing nicely”, “sharing”, “hitting”, it shows simple but real life situations in which kids learn good traits and behaviors.

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