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55 creative and interactive gifts five-year-olds won’t stop playing with in 2024

Enter playtime paradise this year.
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/ Source: TODAY

Five-year-olds start to become truly social as they approach kindergarten, and love group play and games. That means 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.

What do 5-year-olds like to do?

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, complicated physical activities and essential reading strategies.

“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.”

As they learn to read, don't be too quick to push chapter books. “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.

Whether you're gifting a 5-year-old who has everything already or one who has one or two specific wants, we found some of the best educational toys, games, books and more compelling gifts for kids for this integral year of their childhood.

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

Best gifts | Active gifts | Best toys | Best arts and crafts | Best games and puzzles | Best STEM toys | Best dolls, stuffed animals and mini figures | Best books | Meet the experts

Shop TODAY Snapshot

Best gifts for 5-year-olds

The Original Reversible Octopus Plushie

Currently on Amazon's list of bestselling toys and games, this reversible octopus stuffed animal has captured the hearts of the more than 84,000 verified customers who have given it a five-star rating. The plush octopus is available in more than 30 varieties, including glow in the dark.

Klutz Make Your Own Puffy Stickers

Sticker lovers can make their own with this kit that lets them color and press their own creations.

Monster Jam Megaladon

Remote-control cars are big fun for 5-year-olds–and with this model, we mean BIG. This truck takes its “monster” size seriously, with giant wheels that can travel tough terrain and even water, reducing frustration for little drivers. It comes in an even bigger “mega” size for those with serious monster drive.

Magic Mixies Crystal Ball

Magic Mixies were a big hit when they debuted, but the crystal ball kicks it up a notch, adding a wand and mysterious mist to reveal a toy that pops up from the base. The big reveal can repeat on command, and the crystal ball can even be used as a night light that switches off after a half-hour.

The brand also released a new edition of the well-loved toy this season in the shape of a genie’s lamp.

LeapFrog Magic Adventures Globe

This educational game is super interactive and can educate your child about continents, countries, capitals, flags, cultures, languages, currencies, landmarks, geology and animals. The globe features more than 600 educational videos by BBC to put your 5-year-old's knowledge to the test.

VTech KidiZoom PrintCam

Embrace your child's imagination with this kid-friendly camera that allows printing tiny greeting cards, pictures and more photos instantly. Your 5-year-old can create a comic strip, record videos and capture other memories with over 100 photo effects and activities.

Active gifts for 5-year-olds

Stomp Racers STEM Air-Powered Toy Car Blaster

Popular Stomp Rocket toys get a new twist with this jump-to-launch car that flies off the included ramp.

Raddish Kids Cooking Club

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

New Bounce Pogo Stick

Is your 5-year-old known for bouncing off the walls? With this pogo stick, they can now bounce for hours. Designed for children aged five to nine, the pogo stick features non-slip foot pegs and foam handles for easy, safe jumping.

Crate & Kids Collapsible Canvas Play Tent

This cozy place gives your 5-year-old a prime spot to read or play, and it can collapse when not in use or become sweet room decor.

Best toys for 5-year-olds

Pop Purse Fidget Toy Bag

Take the fun of a popping fidget toy, but make it useful! This adorable rainbow purse will not only hold all of the items your 5-year-old collects throughout the day, but they can also spend time popping the bag's surface.

Barbie Pop Reveal Doll

One of the more unique gifts for 5-year-olds on the market, Barbie's newest Pop Reveal doll combines the novelty of color-changing style and sweetly scented accessories with the timelessness of a Barbie doll.

Squishmallows Mystery Box

Let kids enjoy the mystery of unboxing, then snuggle with three surprise pals — perhaps a rainbow unicorn or a stack of pancakes? — that are all perfectly squishable.

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.

Hot Wheels City Transforming T-Rex Hauler

This T-Rex is hungry...for your kid's Hot Wheels! While it initially acts as a transporter for up to 20 cars, it can then transform into a fierce beast with a two-lane race track down its spine. Parents will also appreciate how helpful this hauler is when it comes to cleanup time and long-term storage.

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.

It's especially great for bedtime stories and screen-free imagination building, plus it recently made an appearance on Shop TODAY's Hot List as editorial director Adrianna Brach's "low tech" toy faves.

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

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.

Ooly Chunkies Paint Sticks

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

Rock Painting Kit for Kids

This rock painting set includes rocks, paints, stickers, glitter glue, googly eyes and more, so the 5-year-old you're shopping for can craft to their heart's content.

Lego Classic Creative Neon Fun Brick Box Set

Considered one of The Toy Insider’s hottest toys under $20 this past holiday season, this fun set of 333 neon pieces allows kids to unleash untapped creativity through parameter-free building.

"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.

Elmer’s Fluffy Slime Kit

Let’s be honest, slime is always a winning gift when it comes to kids. Elmer’s has a wide assortment of kits to make the ooey goo of their wildest dreams, including this iteration that concocts squishy, fluffy slime.

Craft-tastic Make a Fox Friend Craft Kit

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

My Cinema Lightbox

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

Little Passports Subscription Box

Complete with their own little suitcase, activity booklet, puzzles, games and so much more, this subscription box from Little Passports will supply months of fun for your little one.

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.

Best games and puzzles for 5-year-olds

Hasbro Connect 4 Game

This classic game requires a bit of strategizing during playtime.

Chuckle & Roar Jigsaw Four Pack of Kids Puzzles

Have a puzzle master? Chuckle & Roar have the perfect puzzle pack for you. Your five-year-old can put together images of a map of the world, space, a safari and the animals under the sea. This puzzle pack makes clean-up time simple with four storage bags to hold the pieces.

Soggy Doggy Board Game

Even if you have a dog at home, your 5-year-old will love playing this board game. As kids take turns giving Soggy Doggy a bath, they need to race to the finish line before they get "soaked" themselves.

Mudpuppy Cosmic Dreams Glow in the Dark Puzzle

A 5-year-old can start tackling bigger puzzles. This out-of-this-world glow-in-the dark design from Mudpuppy adds extra fun with astronaut kittens exploring space.

Ikea Bygglek Lego Collection

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

Monopoly Junior Board Game

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

ThinkFun Zingo Bingo Game

Help your 5-year-old learn how to use, spell and read sight words through this fun game from ThinkFun. This game has two board sizes and two levels of play that you can expand into as your little one progresses their language skills.

Haba Animal Upon Animal Stacking Game

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

Story Time Chess

Introduce 5-year-olds to what might become a lifetime hobby in an age-appropriate way. Storytime Chess uses stories and characters to help kids understand the game, while learning moves and strategies to help them succeed.

Best STEM toys for 5-year-olds

KiwiCo Kitchen Scrap Planter Project

Gardening is fun for any 5-year-old — there’s magic in watching a plant grow. This kit lets them take scraps and leftovers and turn them into new plants, while learning about food waste and how to fight it. The innovative planter also lets them watch roots grow as the plant stretches upward.

KiwiCo Wind Chimes Kit

Kids can create their own colorful chimes to hang in the wind, or simply use on a stand with a mallet for play.

Educational Insights Talking Microscope

With fact and quiz modes, this talking microscope will give your five-year-old a love for science that will last for years. The microscope features the voice of Bindi Irwin, an Australian animal enthusiast.

"This is the perfect microscope for preschool/kindergarten age children. The lens is pre-focused so there is no confusion with trying to dial the correct focus," one reviewer wrote. "The slides give simple but interesting facts about each plant or animal and are sturdy plastic so are virtually unbreakable. Easy for little hands to snap in and out of the guide."

National Geographic Rock, Mineral and Fossil Kit

Rocks are fascinating to 5-year-olds, and this ultimate rock collecting kit includes beautiful rocks and gemstones, along with geode specimens and real fossils including prehistoric shark teeth. The book inside teaches about rocks and minerals and a magnifying glass and identification sheet helps them study their new collection.

Clixo Rainbow Pack

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

Best dolls, stuffed animals and minifigures for 5-year-olds

Just Play Doorables Disney Multipeek Series 10

For the 5 year-old who can't get enough Disney and Pixar in their life, this Doorables collection might be just the thing. There's 80 characters to collect from a wide range of classics and modern gems!

Qunclay Tooth Fairy Door Hanger Bag

At age five, many children lose their first teeth. This sweet little tooth fairy mouse comes with a bag to stash teeth, so the (ahem) real tooth fairy doesn’t lose any.

BFF by Cry Babies

These fashion dolls get in on the mystery unboxing trend with a spinning cylinder box and a surprise closet of accessories.

Jason the Donkey Squishmallow

Kids of all ages (and many adults) have fallen in love with soft, adorable Squishmallows. This Squishmallow, a cute Donkey named Jason, sports a red bandanna.

Lakeshore Learning Snap-bot

These snap-on builder bots from Lakeshore allow your little one to mix and match pieces to create different types of bots. Each set comes with 36 wooden builders with snap features that encourage development of your child's motor skills.

Lila Monetti, American Girl Doll of the Year

Though American Girl's doll of the year, Lila Monetti, is a more expensive gift for five-year-olds, she'll be cherished for years. The doll even comes with a book sharing the story of her life.

Best books for 5-year-olds

Sesame Street Manners Books (Set of 8)

If the 5-year-old you're shopping for needs to learn more about taking turns or working together, this set of "Sesame Street" books is the perfect gift. Each book features vibrant illustrations and lessons your kiddo will take into old age.

“Lizzy and the Cloud,” by The Fan Brothers

Lizzy buys a cloud and must take it for walks, care for it — and eventually set it free — in this bittersweet book about an unusual connection.

“Mina,” by Matthew Forsythe

Mina’s father is always bringing home surprises, like a squirrel that looks suspiciously like a cat, which is a problem for a family of mice. She’ll need the help of a doctor and some stick bugs in this delightfully weird picture book.

“Like,” by Annie Barrows and Leo Espinosa

A child examines differences from other things in the world, like a tin can and a hyena, with comparisons that will make a reader giggle. In the process, they’ll discover who they’re most like — other humans, who aren’t so different from us.

"Mama and Mommy and Me in the Middle," by Nina LaCour and Kaylani Juanita

Mommy leaves on a work trip and throws a child’s life off balance. This thoughtful exploration of her evolving feelings — including not wanting a hug when Mommy returns — normalizes separation anxiety of all kinds.

“The Mouse Who Carried a House on His Back,” by Jonathan Stutzman and Isabelle Arsenault

With the feeling of a timeless fable, this new picture book tells the story of a little mouse who carries a house that is much larger than it appears. He makes room at his table for all sorts of animals, even the scary ones.

"Over and Under the Waves," by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal

Five-year-olds should also read about the world around them, and this latest in the "Over and Under" series explores life above and beneath the ocean, with fascinating facts about the unseen world below the waves.

"My Parents Won't Stop Talking," by Emma Hunsinger and Tillie Walden

A child bound for the park is thwarted by her moms' conversation with the neighbors in this hilarious picture book that takes a child's eye view of the incredibly boring adult chit-chat that gets in the way of everything fun.

Meet the experts

  • Marie Conti is Director of Regional Community Relations for American Montessori Society. She was the former head of The Wetherill School in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania. Conti is based in Greater Philadelphia.
  • Tovah P. Klein, Ph.D., is Director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development in New York, as well as the author of “How Toddlers Thrive." She focuses on young children's social and emotional development, as well as parents' experiences raising them. Klein is also an adjunct associate professor and teaches a year-long course on toddler development.
  • Nina Lindsay is the president of the Association for Library Service to Children.

Don’t forget to check out Shop TODAY’s other gift guides to find the perfect present for every kid on your list including babies, 1-year-olds, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, 6-year-olds, 7-year-olds, 8-year-olds, 9-year-olds and 10-year-olds.