The Best Gifts for 5-Year-Olds
From crafting to molding to STEM learning, these toys do it all.
The best gifts and toys for 5-year-olds should acknowledge their developmental milestones. Many 5-year-olds can tell simple stories using full sentences, count to 10 or beyond, copy geometric shapes, and maybe even draw a person with accurate body parts. They probably have friends, and might like to sing and dance, skip, climb, and somersault. It’s bye-bye diapers (because your kid is using the potty), hello books, and, if you’re lucky, the start of table manners. It stands to reason that gifts should play to their strengths, and include toys that encourage them to explore the big, wide world around them.
The experts at the National Association for the Education of Young Children have a few guidelines for choosing the best gifts for 5-year-olds. Kids this age have longer attention spans than toddlers; they ask a lot of questions and like to experiment with toys. And they now get the hang of playing with friends, and maybe even know how to share. The gift you choose for the 5-year-olds in your life should reflect that. Some of the best kids books of all time are great, but when it comes to the holidays, toys are still king.
A Guide to Buying Gifts for 5-year-olds
- Child-sized “real” toys like play food sets, and kitchens
- Dress-up toys for pretend play
- Blocks that snap together and building blocks
- Construction and transportation toys
- Ride-on toys and toys that promote physical activity
- Creative toys, like paints and chalk, as well as modeling clay
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The Best Creative Play Toys for 5-Year-Olds
This set encourages explorative play with 300 basic pieces, 100 neon pieces, a baseplate, and an idea guide to get their creativity going. All of the pieces connect and allow kids to create whatever they can dream up. You can make mosaics or 3D shapes or detailed buildings and cars.
Kids learn about gravity and balance when they play with these soft, foam magnetic blocks, which click together, rotate 360-degrees, and always attract to each other. It's wonderful open-ended play, with only kids' creativity to guide them. Bonus: They're dishwasher-safe.
Marble runs are great, but generally too complex for younger kids. Here's an exception. This one has 14 magnetic foam pieces so little kids can create a marble run for their four marbles. They can either follow activity cards, or use their imagination.
Where in the world is the missing family cat? Encourage your kids to engage in pretend play with this detective kit, which includes a walkie talkie, camera, periscope, and the eye glasses as miniature Hercule Poirots and Miss Marples figure out who hid Spot, and when, and why.
It's a water slide that's a castle that's actually a marble run. Because there are endless possibilities for re-configuring the layout, this marble run never gets boring. And it's also fast as all getout. Meaning, kids have a blast with some of the best hands-on STEM action we've seen.
No more messy paper dolls. Instead, stick magnetic outfits on this ballerina, which comes with a slew of different clothing options and magnetic backgrounds. It's a perfect travel toy too. This set is totally on point. The updated version of paper dolls includes three sheets of interchangeable magnets.
Kids get a police station and a fire station, for endless amounts of open-ended imaginary play and practice with problem-solving. Bonus: The fire engine has a hydrant, a movable ladder, a movable hatch, and a siren. Hape's toys never disappoint, and this detailed set includes a station, an opening bridge, a pylon bridge, a fire engine, a police car, three figurines (police officer, firefighter, and criminal), a two-carriage freight train, 14 road tracks, and 10 wooden rail tracks.
The Best STEM and Educational Toys for 5-Year-Olds
By age five, kids become intensely curious about the world around them. This interactive globe is a delight. Kids get 10 hours of audio; they just touch the pen to the globe to measure distances, hear cool facts, and explore each body of land and water.
Another fantastic option for early readers, this set comes with a storybook and has an illustrated guide that empowers young inventors with detailed step-by-step assembly instructions as they build eight motorized models of the robots from the story, including an owl, french bulldog, sloth, panda, chameleon, cat, turtle, and rabbit.
Hunting for buried treasure never gets old. And it gets kids outdoors. Up the ante with this working metal detector, which has 7.5-inch dual coil that is waterproof. Plus, the sensitivity is adjustable and it detects objects up to inches underground.
A hands-on experiment in the natural sciences that will thrill aspiring geologists — and all 5-year-olds. This geode-busting kit from National Geographic lets kids break open rocks to discover the crystals growing within. The kit includes 10 premium geodes, goggles, a learning guide and three nifty display stands.
The quality of this crystal growing kit sets it apart. It comes with a sturdy lab setup including real scientific tools like a beaker, test tube, and centrifuge, and supplies to complete 11 different experiments. It teaches kids patience, because crystals don't just grow overnight. But they sure are satisfying when they do.
Using a kid-friendly drill, bolts, a battery pack, a circuit board and connectors, starter engineers work on their problem-solving skills by completing 20 space-themed missions to build circuits that really make lights turn on and things spin around.
We're not quite sure about the whole sparkle thing, but that aside, this is one cool 'bot. It has a swiveling head, arms, and upper body, all of which can be customized. To that end, the set includes a kid-safe mini-screwdriver, 15 colorful bolts, and decorative sparkle stickers. Kids work on their motor skills as they screw in bolts.
Made entirely from recycled plastic, this hands-on STEM kit is filled with magnetic sticks/rods, non-magnetic balls, triangles, squares and pentagons. So kids learn about shapes, colors, and how to put stuff together so it makes sense. It's as open-ended as you can get.
The Best Active Toys for 5-Year-Olds
The simplest toys are often the best, because they ignite kids' imaginations. Such as this inch wobble board. Sure, it teaches kids about balance. But it's also a tunnel or a bridge or a house or a fort. It has a weight limit of 480 pounds, which means you'll get years of use out of it.
The Skynook distills the best features of a hammock, swing, and pillowy lounge chair into a safe and endlessly fun play zone for a five-year-old. The almost fully encircling cloth sides double as both safety precaution (they made the Skynook hard to fall out of) and comforting device because they make the swing-hammock hybrid easier to cuddle up into.
The Best Artistic Toys for 5-Year-Olds
Slime is gross. Slime is magical. And now, under your watchful eye, kids can make their own, and experiment with all the wondrous varieties out there. We're talking premade magnetic putty, fluffy slime, glow-in-the-dark putty, liquid slime, color-changing putty, snotty slime, bouncing putty and DIY slime lab. Clean-up is all you.
You see growth after about four days, and the kit comes with everything you need for two full plant life cycles, including a plastic mason-style jar, potting mix, organic chia and wheat grass seeds, garden figurines, decorative sand, river stones and a plant mister.
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