The best Christmas 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, and if you’re lucky, table manners and the use of forks and spoons are becoming a thing. It stands to reason that Christmas 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 Christmas gift you choose for the 5-year-olds in your life should reflect that. These are some broad toy categories that apply to this age group.
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
The Best Toys for 5-Year-Olds
This brilliant 67-piece set is the ultimate in open-ended play, with a nice STEM edge. Kids use the pieces to build whatever they think up, and then, thanks to a battery-powered record and play unit, record their own sounds. A car that moos? A house that whistles? Sure. Why not?
The simplest toys are often the best, because they ignite kids' imaginations. Such is this 35 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.
A totally non-genderized dollhouse that encourages pretend play and helps kids learn to work together, solve problems together, and figure out whose turn it is to take out the trash this time.
The Toniebox is a screen-free audio player for kids. It works either as a music box, or a storytelling device. Kids place a character on top the box, and hear a story or a song. Pressing the ears changes the volume, while tapping the sides changes the track. Choose whatever character resonates with your child, be it a puppy or Cinderella.
Dinner is served, thanks to this insanely cool play grill. it has an opening hood with an electric burner and grilling tools and kabobs. It promotes pretend play, and cooperative play, as little chefs ask you if you want mustard with that hot dog.
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.
Another ingenious screen-free toy, this one has kids building a working communication station, with a rotating radar dish and a rover charger and space rover. It's a modular toy that's a perfect blend of STEM and open-ended play.
- Create your own awesome videos on this HD video camera with a built-in microphone and special effects like time-lapse video
- Swap in 20+ animated backgrounds to get chased by a T-Rex, go to outer space or become invisible with the included green screen fabric
- Comes with easy on-camera editing, creativity tools, a tabletop tripod/selfie stick and a wrist strap
- Video can only be uploaded to a computer via the included USB cable at parent's discretion; green screen required for some special effects
- Intended for ages 5–10 years; requires 3.7-volt rechargeable lithium ion battery, included; recharge battery with included USB cable. Product Dimensions: 2.4" width x 3.6" height x 1.5" depth
One of this year's most coveted toys, this one lets kids shoot their own videos. And do it like pros. The HD camera has 20+ animated backgrounds, a built-in microphone, and special effects like time-lapse video.
If you don't know this brand, you should. It makes some of the most inspiring creativity kits for kids, and this one is no exception. Artists make handmade Christmas crafts, and the kit includes all the craft supplies they need, including felt shapes, pom poms, googly eyes, bells, beads, and sequins.
No one is doing much traveling these days. But hey, we can pretend, with this detailed set. It includes a plane, an airport terminal, a fuel tanker, a luggage truck, plus a pilot, ground crew, and passengers. There's even a terminal building with a check-in area, where builders can pretend they're flying to someplace exotic and faraway.
This is a surprise toy with a STEM twist. Kids place one of two creatures into a Reactor Pod within the chamber, pump in the reactor liquid, and reveal their very own creatures. It takes at-home science experiments to the next level. It's an imagination-boosting lab that doubles as a working science set, complete with experiments and surprises toys.
The new and improved Botley can be programmed to follow a sequence of up to 150 steps, and can be transformed into a train, police car, and ghost. It lights up and plays music. And does it all without the use of screens.
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.
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.
Kids can build their own robot with the blocks, and then program and control its movements with a connected app. There are 23 different parts included, for building and customization. The cool thing is, because you can keep adding bricks and combine them with interconnecting rods and parts, this robot can keep evolving — and never gets boring. The app is icon-heavy, which is perfect for those who can't read yet.
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.
This construction kit is made up of 14 flexible rainbow pieces that connect together, letting kids create everything from an octopus to a clown to a castle. The clincher is: You get 2D and 3D shapes for maximum creativity.
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.
This game combines physical and digital components so that users can create letters and shapes with physical sticks and rings and then see them come to life on their screen. It helps kids learn their letters in a new way — just note that an iPad is required.
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 slam the ball back and forth while developing their hand-eye coordination. It's ping-pong, but sans table. The door pong set is great for one kid or two, attaches to any doorframe, and has an adjustable string length.
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.
Give the pets a day off at the pet hotel. Kids will use their imagination with stimulating open-ended play, and learn empathy through caring for pretend animals. Nothing says imagination like a pet hotel.
This crazy maze of a racetrack accommodates two players at once, and can be connected to other Hot Wheels tracks. Just watch for the crash zones... or don't.
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