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45 best gifts for 5-year-olds in 2021, according to experts

As they move to big-kid territory, the 5-year-olds you love will cherish these presents.
Little boy opening Christmas present under Christmas tree
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/ Source: TODAY

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Looking for a gift for a kindergartener? Five-year-olds start to become truly social at this age and love group play and games, so the best gifts for 5-year-olds include classic board games.

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

Once they've left age 4 and enter age 5, 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.”

To quickly jump to the category you're looking for, click on the links below or keep scrolling to see all 45.

Don’t forget to check out Shop TODAY’s 2021 Gift Guide to find the perfect present for everyone on your list!

Best arts and crafts and creative gifts for 5-year-olds

Craft-tastic Make a Fox Friend Craft Kit

This easy sewing project is a craft kit and a stuffed animal all in one.

"Doodling 101," by Mo Willems

Learn to doodle some favorite characters from "Elephant and Piggie," "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus" and more, with fun creative prompts.

Ooly Chunkies Paint Sticks

These neat little sticks give the look of paint without the mess and are perfect for 5-year-old hands.

Kid Made Modern Arts & Crafts Library Set

Unlock your child's creativity with all the arts and crafts tools they could ever need! Five-year-olds are ready for more advanced art projects (and scissors).

My Cinema Lightbox

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

Munchkin Bath Crayons

Bring some fun to bath time with these crayons. Your little one can draw pictures and practice their letters on the side of the bathtub. And you can easily wash them off when they're done.

Lite Brite Ultimate Classic

This classic toy never goes out of style. They can create their own unique artwork or follow one of the fun designs.

3Doodler 3D Build & Play

Let creativity come in three dimensions with this beginner's 3D pen that does not get hot to the touch.

Raddish Kids Cooking Club

This subscription box for kids arrives with recipes and tools to help kids get active in the kitchen.

Klutz Make Clay Charms Craft Kit

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

Elmer's Confetti Slime Kit

Making slime with this simple kit from Elmer's is an easy rainy day activity for your little one.

Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty: Mixed by Me

This less-messy alternative to slime still provides a satisfying mixing experience and a playful putty that will last long after.

Water Wow Coloring & Painting Book

Simply fill the pen with water and watch your child's face light up as they watch the colors come to life as they "paint" each picture.

Best games and toys for 5-year-olds

Oribel VertiPlay Marble Run

This marble run doubles as fun wall decor and is perfect for anyone short on floor space. (Or with a floor cluttered with Legos. We're not judging.)

Magna-Tiles Glow in the Dark

Magna-tiles can provide hours of fun to your 5-year-old — and this glowing set gets an extra kick when you turn out the lights.

Clixo Rainbow Pack

This flexible building set uses bendy pieces to allow your 5-year-old create helicopters, crowns or whatever they like.

Franklin Sports MLB Youth Glove and Ball

Klein and Conti both recommended sports equipment and other toys that promote physical activity, as kids at this stage seem to have way more physical energy.

Toniebox Playtime Starter Set

This audio storytelling device uses collectible figures called "Tonies" to unlock stories, songs and more. Place a Tonie on top to start the fun; removing it turns it off. Figures include Disney and Sesame Street characters, and even LeVar Burton, and kids can keep adding to their collection. Great for bedtime stories and screen-free imagination building.

Star Projector Night Light

This night light will project the moon and stars on your little one's bedroom walls. You can set the timer so it will turn off by the time they fall asleep.

Squeakee the Balloon Dog

This balloon dog is interactive and voice-responsive to commands, like a well-trained dog without the mess.

Plus Plus Construction Building Set

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

Mindware Q-BA Maze Marble Run

Your little builder can create elaborate marble runs with these pieces that combine in any direction they can imagine.

Hasbro Connect 4 Game

This classic game requires a bit of strategizing during playtime.

Monopoly Junior Board Game

This Monopoly game is downsized from the old-fashioned favorite.

Lego Classic Creative Fun

Little builders may crave Lego kits with Batman, police helicopters or a treehouse. Conti said it's important that kids have Legos outside of kits, too, for open-ended play.

Ikea Bygglek Lego Collection

Put those Legos away stylishly with containers from Ikea that allow kids to build on top of the box, too.

American Girl Emerson Doll

Conti likes American Girl dolls for this age. These smaller versions are good for 5-year-olds.

Disney Frozen Adventure Collection

Mini-figures and accessories encourage storytelling during playtime.

Brackitz Pulley Set

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

Crazy Forts! Construction Kit

Sure, you could make a fort with a blanket and chair. But this is next-level building that requires design thinking and problem-solving.

Rainforest Search & Find Puzzle

This 64-piece puzzle is just the right size for a 5-year-old, and lets little ones search for hidden objects once it's assembled.

Brusheez Kids Electronic Toothbrush Set

While this isn't exactly a toy, it is a gift that'll make a normally mundane activity much more fun (and ultimately create healthier habits!). This animal-themed set includes a motorized toothbrush, a 2-minute sand timer and a stand.

Haba Animal Upon Animal Stacking Game

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

Playmobil Dino-Rise T-Rex: Battle of the Giants

Action figures are perfect for helping 5-year-olds engage in imaginative play, and dinosaurs help them let out ferocious energy.

Best books for 5-year-olds

"Norman Didn't Do It (Yes, He Did)" by Ryan T. Higgins

Norman's best friend is a tree, but when he notices a sapling moving in on his friendship, he hilariously takes things into his own hands. “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.

"What Is Love?" by Mac Barnett and Carson Ellis

A boy asks the age-old question, what is love? His grandmother can't answer, so he ventures out and gets surprising answers from the people he meets along his journey in this thoughtful story reminiscent of classic fables.

"Cat Problems," by Jory John and Lane Smith

What's the problem for a cat who spends all day lounging? This one can name quite a few, in this funny follow-up to "Penguin Problems" and "Giraffe Problems."

"Rectangle Time," by Pamela Paul and Becky Cameron

This sweet story also takes a cats eye view of the world, with a sunnier outlook on the rectangle a boy and his man gather to read from. When the rectangles start to shrink and the boy reads alone, the cat will need to reclaim his spot.

"Where Three Oceans Meet," by Rajani Larocca and Archana Sreenivasan

A child travels with her mother and grandmother to India, where three oceans meet, and celebrate new discoveries, history, and the family that brings them together.

"Clovis Keeps His Cool," by Katelyn Aronson and Eve Farb

Clovis is a bull in a china shop, so you can imagine his challenge. But he draws on wisdom from his granny to stay surprisingly Zen as he learns how to handle bullies and manage a temper at the same time.

"Listen," by Gabi Snyder and Stephanie Graegin

This meditative picture book encourages listening past all the noise of life to a child's own internal engine, an important message about mindfulness.

"XO, Exoplanet," by Deborah Underwood and Jorge Lacera

When the planets spot something new in the galaxy, they start a letter-writing exchange that gets a little heated (for a planet) over just who gets to be called what and why. This funny fiction also teaches about planets, exo and otherwise.

"Ordinary People Change the World Gift Set," by Brad Meltzer and Christopher Eliopoulos

Five-year-olds should also read nonfiction, like these fact-packed biographies now packaged as a gift set.

"Vampenguin," by Lucy Ruth Cummins

The Dracula family visits the zoo and visits the Penguin House, where a young vampire and a penguin trade places for the day. The family doesn't notice the switcheroo — but kid readers will, and giggle at this delightfully fun tale.

Magnetic Poetry Kids Story Maker

Emerging readers can create their own stories with these ready-made building blocks.

Still looking for the perfect gift? Be sure to check out Shop TODAY’s 2021 Gift Guide to shop for everyone on your list, including:

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This gift guide was originally published on Nov. 22, 2017 and has been updated with new products!