gifts for kids under 5

In this post, we will be discussing the best Gifts For Kids Under 5, gifts for 5 year olds girl, unique gifts for 5 year olds, and best toys for 5 year olds girl 2020. Finding the perfect gift for a 5-year-old can be a genuine challenge. It’s the age when most kids are starting kindergarten (with first grade on the horizon), so class birthday parties are becoming more common and gifting is starting to feel like a full-time job. Plus, age 5 is a turning point: Kids this age are no longer toddlers but they’re not yet big kids, so finding an age-appropriate toy can be tricky. Not to mention the pressure to find a something that’s STEM-related and screen-free.

The best toy for a 5-year-old should acknowledge their developmental milestones. Many 5-year-olds can can tell simple stories using full sentences, count to 10 or beyond, copy geometric shapes, and maybe even draw a person with accurate body parts. They probably have friends, and might like to sing and dance, skip, climb, and somersault. It’s bye-bye diapers, because your kid is using the potty, and if you’re lucky, table manners and the use of forks and spoons might suddenly become a thing. 

best toys for 5 year olds girl 2020

Gifts For Kids Under 5

The experts at the National Association for the Education of Young Children have a few guidelines for choosing great gifts for 5-year-olds. Kids this age have longer attention spans than toddlers; they ask a lot of questions and like to experiment with toys. And they now get the hang of playing with friends, and maybe even know how to share. The gift you choose for the 5-year-olds in your life should reflect that. These are some broad toy categories that apply to this age group.

  • Blocks that snap together and building blocks.
  • Construction and transportation toys.
  • Child-sized “real” toys like play food sets, and kitchens.
  • Dress-up toys for pretend play.
  • Creative toys, like paints and chalk, as well as modeling clay.
  • Ride-on toys and toys that promote physical activity.
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From toy cars to interactive pets to STEM toys, there’s plenty on this list to excite any kindergartener.

The Best Toys for 5-Year-Olds

Hape Robot Factory Domino Set

There’s no limit to the different ways in which kids can play with this toy — which is entirely the point. It comes with dominos, a tipper car, a tipper arm, a ball track, and a series of ramps that are used to create a robot production line. How they build it is up to them. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. This incredible — and incredibly satisfying — domino set was our 2019 Toy of the Year.BUY NOW $36.03

Harry Potter Hogwarts Great Hall Mini Playset

Aspiring wizards will be into this interactive Harry Potter Great Hall set, which includes Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, and Albus Dumbledore mini figures. Muggles can connect with their inner witch or wizard by making food vanish after eating, or by summoning a snake to the table. Plus, the set includes the famed sorting hat.BUY NOW $21.49

Open Play Construction Set

As kids start to have more and more play dates, this Plus-Plus set is an ideal way to keep them busy. It encourages explorative play with 300 basic pieces, 100 neon pieces, a baseplate, and an idea guide to get their creativity going. All of the pieces connect and allow kids to create whatever they can dream up. You can make mosaics or 3D shapes or detailed buildings and cars.BUY NOW $24.99

Robo Wunderkind Robotics Kit

Kids can build their own robot with the blocks, and then program and control its movements with a connected app. There are 23 different parts included, for building and customization. The cool thing is, because you can keep adding bricks and combine them with interconnecting rods and parts, this robot can keep evolving — and never gets boring. The app is icon-heavy, perfect for those who can’t read yet.BUY NOW $249.00

National Geographic Break-Open Geodes

A hands-on experiment in the natural sciences that will thrill aspiring geologists — and all 5-year-olds. This geode-busting kit from National Geographic lets kids break open rocks to discover the crystals growing within. The kit includes 10 premium geodes, goggles, a learning guide and three nifty display stands.BUY NOW $24.99

WowWee Magnaflex

This construction kit is made up of 34 flexible rainbow pieces that connect together, letting kids create everything from an octopus to a clown to a castle. The clincher is: You get 2D and 3D shapes for maximum creativity.BUY NOW $49.96

Ben 10 Alien Creation Chamber

Kids get to play mad scientist — or just plain scientist — by mixing and matching pieces from four figures to create unique alien lifeforms that emerge from the special chamber fully formed.BUY NOW $100.00

Craft-tastic Make a Fox Friend

This kit is easy enough for young kids to use, and helps them learn to follow directions and learn handy skills like basic stitching. The kit lets kids make their very own fox stuffie with clothes and accessories to mix and match.BUY NOW $19.99

Treasure X Quest for Dragons Gold

Yet another surprise toy that rewards your child with a treasure he or she unearths inside the box. Unleash your kid’s inner Indiana Jones, and let him or her chip and dig through different layers to reveal the secret treasure inside.BUY NOW $16.84

ZOOB BuilderZ 250 Piece Kit

Kids can create towers and monsters and cranes and houses and whatever else they can dream up. And you can buy more Zoobs if you run out. Yes, they can get messy and yes, they get underfoot. But Zoobs really do prove that with imagination, the sky is the limit.BUY NOW $38.68

Creativity for Kids Grow ’n Glow Terrarium

You see growth after about four days, and the kit comes with everything you need for two full plant life cycles, including a plastic mason-style jar, potting mix, organic chia and wheat grass seeds, garden figurines, decorative sand, river stones and a plant mister.BUY NOW $44.99

Scientific Explorer Kids Science Experiment Kit

Truly the gift that keeps on giving, this science kit comes with 11 activities — all parts included. The experiments are simple enough for young kids to grasp, and even if you could do some of them without the kit, pre-portioned ingredients and step-by-step instructions make things much simpler. This 20 piece at-home science kit is the STEM toy of your dreams.BUY NOW $14.97

Hot Wheels Spin Storm Track Set

This crazy maze of a racetrack accommodates two players at once, and can be connected to other Hot Wheels tracks. Just watch for the crash zones… or don’t.BUY NOW $99.95

Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit for iPad

This game combines physical and digital components so that users can create letters and shapes with physical sticks and rings and then see them come to life on their screen. It helps kids learn their letters in a new way — just note that an iPad is required.BUY NOW $63.99

Robobloq Coding Robot with Puzzle Card

Turning learning coding into a game with this friendly snail, who introduces kids to coding with a series of action cards that kids can rearrange and watch Qobo follow.$59.99

Haba Little Friends Veterinary Clinic Play Set

Kids can live out their veterinary dreams without subjecting the family dog to treatment.BUY NOW $79.99

National Geographic Mega Slime Kit

Slime is gross. Slime is magical. And now, under your watchful eye, kids can make their own, and experiment with all the wondrous varieties out there. We’re talking premade magnetic putty, fluffy slime, glow-in-the-dark putty, liquid slime, color changing putty, snotty slime, bouncing putty and DIY slime lab. Clean-up is all you.BUY NOW $29.99

Fat Brain Toys AnimaLogic

It’s a fun multi-player game that helps build object recognition, sequencing skills, matching abilities, logic, and creative thinking. And who doesn’t love animals? Kids have to get the wooden animals across the river, but they can only cross one at a time and only in the right sequence. Once all the animals are safe, mission accomplished.BUY NOW $26.95

Sesame Street Cook Bake Create Recipe Activity Set

Kids are keen observers of what goes on in the kitchen, and they will love having their very own set of kitchen tools. Not only will this set help them develop their fine motor skills and make better sense of the world around them, it’s an opportunity to rebrand healthy eating as fun.BUY NOW $13.70

Plan Toy My First Dollhouse

A totally non-genderized doll house that encourages pretend play and helps kids learn to work together, solve problems together, and use their imaginations to create the home of their dreams.BUY NOW $152.95

PLAYMOBIL Tiny Paws Pet Hotel

Give the pets a day off at the pet hotel. Kids will use their imagination with stimulating open-ended play, and learn empathy through caring for pretend animals. Nothing says imagination like a pet hotel.BUY NOW $69.99

Green Toys Dough 4 Pack Activity Set

This colorful dough is made from organic flour and produced in a food facility. The best play dough you can buy for this age.BUY NOW $11.50

LEGO Space Shuttle Toy Building Kit with Mars Rover and Astronaut Minifigures

This buildable toy encourages STEM learning — and might just inspire future actual space exploration. Take imaginative play way, way out there…BUY NOW $31.99

Hape Emergency Services HQ

Kids get a police station and a fire station, for endless amounts of open-ended imaginary play and practice with problem-solving. Bonus: The fire engine has a hydrant, a movable ladder, a movable hatch and a siren. Hape’s toys never disappoint, and this detailed set includes a station, an opening bridge, a pylon bridge, a fire engine, a police car, three figurines (police officer, fire fighter, and criminal), a two-carriage freight train, 14 road tracks, and 10 wooden rail tracks.BUY NOW $86.05

Learning Resources Beaker Creatures Deluxe Liquid Reactor Super Lab

This is a surprise toy with a STEM twist. Kids place one of two creatures into a Reactor Pod within the chamber, pump in the reactor liquid, and reveal their very own creatures. It takes at-home science experiments to the next level. A perfect toy for 5 year olds, this is a imagination-boosting lab that doubles as a working science set, complete with experiments and surprise toys.BUY NOW $24.99

Coding Critters

This 22-piece play set lets kids design their own coding challenges. Each coding animal comes with a storybook full of coding challenges. Kids can code Ranger and play fetch with him — and care for him — as they would a real pet.BUY NOW $24.49

Colorforms Silly Faces Game

The whole family competes to see who can come up with the wackiest face. You spin the spinner and choose from the nutty assortment of reusable colorforms to stick on the face card. The crazier, the better. What’s not to love?BUY NOW $16.79

Mudpuppy Woodland Animal Ballerina Magnetic Dress-Up

No more messy paper dolls. Instead, stick magnetic outfits on this ballerina, which comes with a slew of different clothing options and magnetic backgrounds. It’s a perfect travel toy too. This set is totally on pointe. The updated version of paper dolls includes three sheets of interchangeable magnets.BUY NOW $15.92

Fat Brain Toys Door Pong

Kids slam the ball back and forth while developing their hand-eye coordination. It’s ping-pong, but sans table. The door pong set is great for one kid or two, attaches to any doorframe, and has an adjustable string length.BUY NOW $65.99ADVERTISEMENT.

The Only Toy Gift Guide for a 5-Year-Old You’ll Ever Need

By Steven JohnPhoto: Photo-Illustration: Stevie Remsberg; Photos: Courtesy of the retailers

You know about New York Magazine’s “Approval Matrix.” Now, the Strategist has taken that model of what falls where on our taste hierarchies and applied it to toys. In this case, the four sides of the grid are “Educational” (say, a robot safari), “Brain Candy” (colossal Hot Wheels), “Reasonably Priced,” and “Splurgy.” Each toy in every quadrant comes highly recommended — click here to learn more about our sourcing process and the dozens of experts involved — and every age up to double digits is covered.

Here, we home in on the 5-year-olds. As children this age begin to control their emotions, they’re better equipped to work through problems and conflicts, according to Dr. George Sachs, a child psychologist and founder of the Sachs Center in Manhattan. With this in consideration, we present you with the following assortment of gift ideas, guided by professionals like Sachs as well as toy historians and Instagram parents. You can jump directly to the section that interests you most — “Educational/Reasonably Priced,” “Educational/Splurgy,” “Brain Candy/Reasonably Priced,” or “Brain Candy/Splurgy” — or read all the way through to get the full picture of what kids these days are into. Whether you’re shopping for the holidays or a birthday or any other day, it’s a list that keeps on giving.

Educational/Reasonably Priced

Outfoxed! Board Game$20 now 20% off$16

Outfoxed has more replay value than this writer has ever experienced in a child’s boardgame. Since getting the game months ago, rarely has a single day gone by without our 5-and-a-half-year-old requesting at least one round. The game is easy for kids to understand — you uncover a series of clues and a group of suspects, zeroing in on the guilty fox through a process of elimination — yet the choices to be made during each turn require critical thinking, planning, and teamwork. The collaborative nature of play minimizes conflict between siblings or friends, and allows parents to genuinely play as well, rather than the standard intentional mistake-making and losing.$16 AT AMAZON

Sector 7$18 now 33% off$12

We’re calling this hardcover book a “toy” because this spectacular, Caldecott Honor–winning hardcover — originally published in 1999 — allows preliterate children to turn the book into a game. Its detailed, engaging story is told entirely in pictures; there is no text whatsoever, encouraging kids to narrate it in their own unique way and interpret the story with an open mind. There’s imagination, analysis, and a unique connection to the characters on the pages.$12 AT AMAZON

Perler Sunny Days Bead Bucket$32 now 72% off$9

Perler Beads are great for honing the already advanced fine motor control of a 5-year-old, while also allowing for open-ended artistic creation — the thousands of rainbow colors can be put in endless combinations onto pegboards in all kinds of shapes. “These beads are fun and very creative, that’s for sure,” saysDr. Roberta Golinkoff, a professor of child psychology at the University of Delaware and co-author of Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children. “By this age, they’re not going to eat the small pieces, so you don’t have to worry about that. My grandkids have a lot of fun with these.”$9 AT AMAZON

Science Art Fusion Rainbows Kit$20 now 25% off$15

“Age 5 is a difficult one to find science-related toys for that are actually any good,” says Holly Magelof, veteran toy buyer of the Dolphin Bookshop. Most “science” kits at this age are more silly than learning-centric and are often of middling quality with limited replay value. However, Holly says, the “kits from the Young Scientists Club come with multiple activities that are STEM-related and really are age appropriate. Also, they’re a great value for what you get in the box.” And who knew there were so many varieties of rainbows?

Editor’s Note: This rainbow kit from the Young Scientists Club is currently out of stock on Amazon, but this Bubbles Kit and this Animal Tracks Game are available on Amazon.$15 AT AMAZON

Kids First: Robot Safari$30 now 10% off$27

With this kit, kids are building robots of a variety of animals and then actually getting to watch them move, explains Laurie Schacht, chief toy officer of The Toy Insider. A step-by-step manual makes the projects manageable with minimal adult assistance and involves steps like assembling LEGO-like blocks into the shape of, say, a sea otter or a fox, and then connecting them to a ready-made motor. Of course, Schacht suspects that more often than not, kids will be going for the unicorn and narwhal options — “the most popular creatures these days.”$27 AT AMAZON


PLUS PLUS Open Play Set$35 now 11% off$31

This Plus Plus set — which has won all kinds of awards and develops engineering, design, and fine motor skills — is the all-time favorite of New York psychiatrist and mother of twin boys Vanessa Carroll; she says it’s held her kids’ attention more than any other toy. “Normally, when the boys get home from school, the first thing they want to do is eat a snack,” Carroll says. “Then they got this as a birthday gift. All of a sudden, I’d be waiting and waiting for them in the kitchen, calling their names to come eat, and 30 minutes later they were still on the floor of the playroom, making these intricate mosaic designs and building 3-D shapes like UFOs. The pieces require hand-eye coordination,” Carroll says, “so 5 is definitely a good starting age; I wish we’d had them in our lives a little sooner.”$31 AT AMAZON

Botzees Coding Kit$100 now 30% off$70

Augmented reality like the kind you get here is hard to find for this age group. The coding kit involves using physical robots that kids build themselves and then interact with both in digital space via tablet app and in the real world, controlling a Botzee via tablet or with built-in motion sensors. Mark Rollins, writer and creator of, who’s written books on what he calls “programmable building toys,” notes how both “the young or old” can appreciate bringing creations to life thanks to motorized pieces. These kits, in particular, according to Rollins, “are very popular for STEM programs for teenagers,” but at the same time, “Botzees are made for the littlest of hands. We live in a world where children grasp technology easily, and those that can play with Duplo blocks can do a lot more with Botzees.”$70 AT AMAZON

Kiwi Crate Ages 5-8From $20

Kiwi Crates, which are made for all kinds of ages, were included in our 2-year-old guide and deserve to be brought up yet again as the monthly kits you can subscribe to for the 5-to-8 age range; they are perfectly suited to the rapidly developing mind of the kindergartner and early-elementary-age child. Kiwi Kits always have hands-on maker and art projects, and they feature reading materials and integration with online activities. “This subscription fosters collaboration, problem solving, and independence,” says Halley Loeb Rossler, a special-education teacher from Tulsa, Oklahoma. In her own home, Rossler says, her young boys look forward to the deliveries of their boxes every month, and she even says that the ongoing series of activities, and the discussions and engagement they foster, have “played a role in our family story.”FROM $20 AT KIWI CO

Design & Drill Space Circuits$36 now 14% off$31

This space-themed circuit-building kit has more than 50 pieces and comes with 20 activities to challenge young makers, plus the possibility for endless self-directed activities. It is “a new take on a classic from Educational Insights,” says Magelof. (The classic to which she refers is a simpler albeit beloved kit in which kids merely drill colorful plastic screws into a board.) “It takes the fine motor practice up a level and incorporates STEM.”$31 AT AMAZON

Mad Mattr Super Building Pack$20

This is the “safe, gluten-free Play-Doh substitute” of choice for mother of four and noted Instagrammer Coral Barajas. (Similar Play-Doh kits, it should be noted, are typically a good $20 cheaper.) “But it is not just a substitute; it’s an upgrade,” according to Barajas. “We love the texture, it is not as messy as Play-Doh or kinetic sand, and it is just magical that it doesn’t dry out!” This set is great for imaginative play, it helps with dexterity and fine motor control, and it lets kids of varied ages play together.$20 AT TARGET

Pizza Co. Game$39 now 18% off$32

This game manages the all but impossible: It makes learning math genuinely fun. It requires an iPad and the Osmo base kit (not included), so, yes, definitely a splurge, but the payoff is big. “It’s a favorite in my classroom,” says Heidi J. Trudel, an elementary-school teacher from Seattle. “The game incorporates math concepts” — there is counting out change, measuring ingredients, saving up for purchases, and more — “and you can adjust the level of complexity to match a child’s needs. They love working for the customers and setting goals for their work.”$32 AT AMAZON

Brain Candy/Reasonably Priced

Little Pretender Walkie Talkies$27

Parents these days tend to appreciate being able to keep in touch with their kids when they’re down the street or off in the woods, and these high-quality walkie-talkies — one Amazon reviewer who bought them for 5- and 6-year-old kids wrote, “I’d recommend them for grown-ups, too” — might just put off the inevitable first cell phone. They have three different channels, allowing for multiple lines of communication, and have a range of nearly two miles, making them ideal for use during visits to the zoo or amusement park (the quite-crisp audio quality is especially helpful in such noisy environments). And, in general, Dr. Golinkoff likes how walkie-talkies encourage “collabroation, communication, and creativity.”$27 AT AMAZON

Sago Brothers Magic Clay$33

Though less flashy than the preferred molding clay of Instagram’s Coral Barajas, longtime Manhattan nanny Kasia Dabrowska swears by the Sago Brothers version (also a top pick on Amazon). “I like this Magic Clay better than Play-Doh,” she says. “It’s not as messy; it’s nontoxic and unscented. And it’s soft — it has a nice feeling to it when you squeeze it.” The set comes with an array of 24 different shades, along with cutting tools and little accessories like googly eyes and key chains. There’s also an idea book included for making specific shapes, but, Dabrowska adds, “the boys and girls I’ve worked with like to make their own things, like planets, mixing together different colors. Five is a really creative age.”$33 AT AMAZON

Stomp Rocket$25 now 8% off$23

Kids go wild for stomp rockets — a fact well acknowledged by both Dr. Sachs and this writer — I saw my own son take to them as early as age 2. At that age, he was more of a spectator than a rocket launcher, though, and by age 5, kids have the balance and strength to send a rocket soaring skyward, something they will do repeatedly. I have watched with gratitude as my son and his cousins of a similar age take turns blasting them off for the better part of an hour, leaving me and the other adults to actually talk for a bit.$23 AT AMAZON

Pretty Pretty Princess Board Game$20

You may recall this pile-on-the-jewels dress-up game from the ’90s — and now it’s been rereleased. “Everyone who sees it remembers it so positively,” says Magelof, who is now witnessing its magnetism to the current generation of kids. While definitely oriented toward girls, any 5-year-old can enjoy the game play, which requires no reading and is cooperative rather than competitive and involves using the included spinner, board, and costume pieces like cocktail rings, sorbet-colored necklaces, and an understated tiara.$20 AT PAPER SOURCE

The Floor Is Lava$30 now 33% offFrom $20

“Remember being a kid and imagining yourself in some kind of Indiana Jones situation, launching yourself from couch to chair to pillow as a way to avoid touching the floor?” asks Jason Feifer, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine (and host of the podcasts Pessimists Archive and Hush Money), and dad of two. “That’s what this game has replicated — but now with more places to jump and hopefully less furniture destruction. Scatter its colored foam discs around the floor, and invite a handful of kids stand on them. Now spin a color wheel, or read a ‘challenge card,’ and they have to jump and move accordingly. It’s basically like Twister, for kids too young to really twist. But they sure can jump.”FROM $20 AT AMAZON

Spalding High Bounce Handball$6

Even if you’re unaware of the 1970s Brooklyn nostalgia surrounding the pink Spaldeen, don’t let the simplicity of this rubber bouncing ball fool you — possibilities abound, according to Dr. Roberta Golinkoff: “There are all kinds of things you can do with a small pink bouncing ball and hand-clapping. I played with those for a long time when I was a kid.” And now, she adds, if you don’t know any such game off-hand, “look them up on YouTube.” After teaching your kids, “they’ll go and teach the other kids, which is really great.”$6 AT AMAZON

Brain Candy/Splurgy

Hot Wheels Colossal Crash Track Set$100 now 25% off$75

This sprawling race track will easily have half a dozen kids crowded around and cheering; amazingly, it might just be a bigger draw than video games or the TV. “They compete very well in a screen-heavy digital world,” says Chris Down, the global head of vehicles for Mattel. “Hot Wheels just had a 50th anniversary in 2018, and in terms of actual units, it is the No. 1 best-selling toy in the world.”$75 AT AMAZON

Power Wheels Dune Racer$400 now 38% off$250

Though your heart might race at the idea of a 5-year-old driving this dune-buggy-style Power Wheels vehicle, don’t worry too much: It’s surprisingly stable, and it has two speed settings, the slower of which maxes out at 2.5 mph. (You’ll still be able to run it down at top speed, which is five mph in the faster mode.) The vehicle can comfortably seat two kids or a total of 130 pounds of passenger weight (“This thing is huge,” an Amazon reviewer notes).$250 AT AMAZON

VTech KidiZoom Camera Pix$40 now 23% off$31

The Vtech Kidizoom camera might look more like a toy than a real camera, and in many ways it is, what with the built-in games and silly graphics kids can add to photos. But it is indeed a genuine camera that takes digital pictures and has a zoom function.Dr. Golinkoff calls using a kid’s camera “so fun,” especially when you take the time to teach the child about photography.$31 AT AMAZON$40 AT WALMART

Playmobil Mars Space Station$80 now 29% off$57

“Major building blocks of productive, immersive play” is how these toys are defined by Christopher Byrne, author, toy historian, and independent industry analyst. In playing out space exploration in this Mars Space Station version, kids revel in self-directed, open-ended engagement with the moving parts, working lights, detailed rooms, and figurines suited up in full helmets and gear.$57 AT AMAZON

Crazy Forts$59 now 25% off$44

After this writer’s son got a Crazy Forts kit for Christmas one year, few days that went by for the following months without a fort built or played in. As a base toy, these tubes and balls make fun tunnels, cubes, and other structures, but when you add in bed sheets, pillows, stuffed animals, and more, the fun goes up a notch or three. Dr. Sachs thinks the free-building involved here is pretty instructive, but your 5-year-old will just think it’s cool. —Additional reporting by Lauren Levy and Lauren Ro$44 AT AMAZON


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