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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
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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,” 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, which helps 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.”

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.

Magical Unicorn Cape, $30, Uncommon Goods

Magical Unicorn Cape
Uncommon Goods

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

Wonderhood Pet Place, $40, Walmart

Wonderhood Pet Place

This building set lets kids be the architect.

Zing Stikbot Studio Figures, $20, Amazon

Zing Stikbot

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.

“Runny Babbit Returns” by Shel Silverstein, $11, Amazon

Runny Babbit Returns

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

Wilson Traditional Soccer Ball Size 5, $14, Amazon

Soccer ball

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, $21, Amazon

Animal upon Animal

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

Monopoly Junior Board Game, $13, Walmart

Monopoly Junior

This Monopoly is downsized from the old-fashioned favorite.

Crayola Inspiration Art Case, $17 (originally $20), Walmart

Crayola Inspiration Art Case

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

“Her Right Foot,” $14, Amazon

Her Right Foot
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

Lego Classic Creativity Box

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

DIY galaxy in a jar craft kit, $30, Amazon

DIY galaxy in a jar

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

Design Your Own Slime Kit, $20, Uncommon Goods

Design Your Own Slime Kit
Uncommon Goods

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

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

Hasbro Connect 4 Game

This classic game requires a bit of strategizing.

Janod Polka Dot Wood Guitar, $46, Nordstrom

Janod Polka Dot Wood Guitar

“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, $22, Walmart

Melissa & Doug Letters
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, $35, Amazon

Plus-Plus Blocks

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

My Cinema Lightbox, $35, Amazon

My Cinema Lightbox

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.

This article was originally published on November 15, 2017 on

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