The best gifts for 5-year-olds, according to child development experts

At 5, kids are becoming truly social and love group play and games, including classic board games.

“They’re starting to grow out of their egocentrism, so they’re able to understand another’s perspective, so they’re more understanding of taking turns and not winning all the time,” says Marie Conti, the head of the The Wetherill School in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, and a board member of the American Montessori Society.

They start school with new challenges, but also more focus and skills that help them conquer fine-motor tasks and complicated physical activities.

“They are testing out skills that have gotten stronger as they grow,” says Tovah Klein, director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development and author of “How Toddlers Thrive.”

Magical Unicorn Cape, $30, Uncommon Goods

Uncommon Goods

Who among us wouldn’t want to wear a magical unicorn cape?

Zing Stikbot Studio Figures, $25, Amazon


These bendy stick figures are fun for play and can be used to create movies with a green screen and your phone if you have a budding filmmaker.

Wilson Traditional Soccer Ball Size 5, $30, Amazon


Klein and Conti both recommend sports equipment and other toys that promote physical activity, especially for boys, who Conti says “seem to have way more physical energy” at this stage.

HABA Animal Upon Animal Game, $22, Amazon


More complicated puzzles and building with smaller toys are appealing now, Klein says.

Wonderhood Pet Place, $40, Target


This building set lets kids be the architect.

“Runny Babbit Returns” by Shel Silverstein, $13, Amazon


This collection of never-before-published poems by Shel Silverstein is fun to read aloud and grows with emerging readers.

Monopoly Junior Board Game, $13, Amazon


This Monopoly is downsized from the old-fashioned favorite.

Crayola Inspiration Art Case, $21 (originally $25), Amazon


Five-year-olds are ready for more advanced art projects (and scissors).

“Her Right Foot,” $11 (originally $20), Amazon

Chronicle Books

“Continuing with storybooks is important, because enjoying the story is a really big part of learning to read,” says Nina Lindsay, president of the Association for Library Service to Children. Five-year-olds should also read non-fiction, like this true story of the Statue of Liberty.

Lego Classic Creativity Box, $5, Amazon


These classic Legos make great stocking stuffers in red and green.

DIY galaxy in a jar craft kit, $25, Nordstrom


Art projects and craft kits promote fine motor skills and creativity.

Design Your Own Slime Kit, $20, Uncommon Goods

Uncommon Goods

All the creativity and fun of slime, with less mess.

Hasbro Connect 4 Game, $8 (originally $12), Amazon


This classic game requires a bit of strategizing.

Janod Polka Dot Wood Guitar, $46, Nordstrom


“Around Kindergarten age, if kids get interested in an instrument, it’s a nice time to try starting that,” Conti says.

Melissa & Doug Magnetic Letter and Numbers, $25, Amazon

Melissa & Doug

There's nothing like moving letters and numbers around to learn about letter sounds.

Brackitz Pulleys Set, $40, Amazon

Conti loves construction sets for 5-year-olds. This one from Brackitz allows children to create zip-lines, cranes or elevators.

Plus-Plus 600 Piece Set, $31 (originally $35), Amazon


For Lego lovers, this set takes building to a different dimension.

My Cinema Lightbox, $40, Amazon


Promote literacy with favorite quotes or phrases that kids can arrange themselves.

Looking for more suggestions? Check out the gift guide for babies, 1-year olds, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds. Or try Good Housekeeping’s 2017 ‘Best Toy Award’ winners, the 10 toys that will be on every kid’s wish list this holiday season or Amazon's top 2017 toy list.

If you need to check other people off your list, test out our interactive gift guide! You simply choose who you are shopping for, what they are like and how much you want to spend, then we generate the gifts for you!

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