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

As they move from toddlerhood to big-kid territory, the 5-year-olds you love will cherish these presents.
by Lisa Tolin /  / Updated  / Source: TODAY
gifts for 5-year-old girls, gifts for 5-year-old boys, toys for 5-year-old boys, toys for 5-year-old girls, games for 5-year-olds
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Once they've left age 4 and enter age 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,” said 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, which helps them conquer fine-motor tasks and complicated physical activities.

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

1. Magical Unicorn Cape, $30, Uncommon Goods

TODAY editors, writers and experts take care to recommend items we really like and hope you’ll enjoy! Just so you know, TODAY does have affiliate relationships. So, while every product is independently selected, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the revenue.

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

2. “Runny Babbit Returns” by Shel Silverstein, $12 (usually $20), Amazon

Also available for $16 at Walmart and for $18 at Barnes & Noble.

This collection of poems by Shel Silverstein is fun to read aloud and grows with emerging readers.

3. Wilson Traditional Soccer Ball Size 5, $8 (usually $30), Amazon

Also available in a pack of two for $30 at Walmart.

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

4. HABA Animal Upon Animal Stacking Game, $21, Amazon

Also available at Walmart.

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

5. Monopoly Junior Board Game, $9, Walmart

Also available for $15 at Amazon.

This Monopoly is downsized from the old-fashioned favorite.

6. Crayola Inspiration Art Case, $18 (originally $25), Amazon

Also available at Walmart.

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

7. "Her Right Foot" by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris, $14 (usually $20), Amazon

Also available for $16 at Walmart.

“Continuing with storybooks is important, because enjoying the story is a really big part of learning to read,” said 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.

8. LEGO Classic Red Creativity Box Building Kit, $5, Amazon

Also available at Walmart.

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

9. Klutz Make Clay Charms Craft Kit, $17 (usually $22), Amazon

Also available at Walmart.

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

10. Design Your Own Slime Kit, $20, Uncommon Goods

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

11. Hasbro Connect 4 Game, $9 (originally $13), Amazon

Also available at Target.

This classic game requires a bit of strategizing.

12. Janod Polka Dot Wood Guitar, $46, Nordstrom

Also available for $41 at Amazon.

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

13. Melissa & Doug Magnetic Letter and Numbers, $19 (usually $22), Walmart

Also available at Amazon.

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

14. Brackitz Pulley Set, $38, Amazon

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

15. Plus-Plus 600-Piece Set, $31 (usually $35), Amazon

Also available for $26 at Walmart and for $35 at Target.

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

16. My Cinema Lightbox, $30, Amazon

Similar available for $20 at Walmart.

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

17. Wonderhood Pet Place Creative Building Set, $40, Walmart

Also available for $28 at Target.

This building set lets kids be the architect.

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.

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This article was originally published on November 15, 2017 on

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