How do you choose the best present for a five-year-old? Asking them is a good start: by this age, they have a pretty good idea of what they like. While kids at this age enjoy a range of activities, there’s probably a category of toy that’s a surefire hit. As Magic Beans co-owner Sheri Gurock wrote in Parents Magazine a few years back,
“Now that your kindergartner’s special interests are more refined, they might start collecting one type of toy, like Bruder trucks, Schleich animals, wooden trains, or Playmobil sets. Encourage their hobbies, as large collections often lead to elaborate and creative play.”
Playing with these collections will diverge in all kinds of creative directions, letting them express themselves and practice a wide range of skills they’re learning – verbal, social, and physical.
So for this birthday toy roundup, I’ve chosen a few items from some of the more popular categories that kids at this age like, mostly concentrating on pretend-play and building toys (since these are two huge categories for this age). However, if you don’t see something that fits the bill, a five-year-old will also love educational toys, outdoor toys, puzzles, simple board games, and more! You can search our vast toy selection by age, or just cut to the chase and talk to one of our toy whizzes – you can catch them on live chat, on the phone, by email, or at any of our stores.
LEGOs and DUPLOs
LEGO Juniors Construction set, $19.99
There are going to be a lot of LEGO sets in this roundup, in part because there are so many options, and in part because it seems like if you ask any parent what their kids particularly like at this age, they say, “LEGO!” LEGO Juniors sets are an awesome choice for a five-year-old because the bricks are scaled down from DUPLO, but the pieces and instructions are designed to cater to younger builders. It’s a great way for them to learn how to follow directions, and get the thrill of saying “I built it myself”!
LEGO City Coast Guard Helicopter, $49.99
A more deluxe set for kids who are already ready to build with proper LEGOs (and yes, reviewers confirm that kids as young as age 5 can handle this one). Even more awesome: the rotor spins, and the hoist actually operates, adding plenty of playtime after the helicopter is built.
Trucks and cars
Laser Pegs Cars with 4 Models, $14.99
On the unlikely chance that your kid is jaded with regular old building sets, Laser Pegs add another special twist: they light up! This set has directions for four different cars, and kids can add pieces from other Laser Pegs sets to make their own creations.
Kid Galaxy Remote Control Morphibians Land Shark, $32.99
The ability of these remote-controlled cars to navigate the roughest of terrain is so impressive that the fact that they can also run in water is almost beside the point. The intuitive controls also mean that there won’t be a frustrating warming-up period before kids can really enjoy their mean-looking little truck!
Arts and Crafts
Creativity for Kids Young Artist Coloring Gift Set, $24.99
It’s all here: crayons, markers, colored pencils, a sharpener, a pad, and even stickers. And there’s nothing a little artist appreciates like a huge pile of fresh, new art supplies that are just for them.
Make Your Own Cards, $22.99
How about a gift that just keeps giving? Even if there’s no special occasion for the cards at the moment, kids will love making “I love you cards” or pretend-birthday cards for everyone.
Sticky Mosaics Twinkle Tiaras, $19.99
The only thing better than a tiara is a tiara that you make yourself. And the only thing better than a tiara that you make yourself is SIX tiaras that you make yourself!
Playmobil Unicorn Jewel Castle, $99.99
A truly deluxe birthday gift for your little princess: a HUGE dollhouse with all of the princess trimmings, with 312 pieces in all. We advise you to put this set together before it’s presented to her tiny Highness, so she can get started playing right away.
Hexbug Nano V2 SkyMax Set, $39.99
Age five may not be old enough for a real pet, but the intriguing Hexbug Nanos have enough of a life of their own to fill in the gap for a bit: set them loose in this vertical habitat and watch them explore, scuttle, scuffle, and climb!
Faber Castell Designer Doggie, $19.99
Or, for a pretend-play pet who’s more snuggly, with this kit, kids can design their own cute purse to carry around a fuzzy pal!
Spring Celebration Ballet Lottie Doll, $24.99
Lottie is old enough to give your little kid the thrill of role-playing an older character without entering any inappropriate territory, her hair is designed not to tangle, and she has fans from toddlers up to teens. Plus, cool ballerina costume!
Groovy Girls Style Scents – Sadie & Shortcake, $24.99
Sadie is a sweet-smelling pal your child will want to take everywhere, and she even comes with a pal of her own – a cute little strawberry-scented bunny!
Playmobil Pirate Ship with RC Underwater Motor, $129.99
Another super-deluxe gift: this pirate ship comes with a scurvy crew, tons of weaponry, firing cannons, and… oh yes, an underwater motor that lets it set sail in the bathtub or on your swimming pool. Your kid wants one… and you kind of want one too, don’t you?
Melissa & Doug Pirate Role Play Costume Set, $29.99
Or, kids can just be the pirates themselves! This set comes with all of the necessary props, including a hat, a wicked-looking sword (it’s foam, don’t worry), and of course, the inevitable eyepatch. Perfect for everyday playtime or Halloween (or both).
LEGO Juniors Spider-Man Spider-Car Pursuit, $17.99
More LEGO Juniors, this time with Spider-Man. Who has a Spider-Car. And spiderwebs. And a whole bunch of other spider-stuff.
LEGO Juniors Batman Defends the Batcave, $39.99
The appeal of this playset is rather self-explanatory, isn’t it? Plus, we dig the old-school Batman TV show look of this wacky set, full of Bat-contraptions.
Star Wars Movie Legends Figures, $14.99
Darth Vader, R2D2, Queen Amidala, Darth Maul, and oodles of other good guys and bad guys are armed and ready to rumble! These figures are beautifully detailed, and they have action features that are sure to send light sabers flying.
LEGO Darth Vader Mini Figure Clock, $34.99
When Darth Vader is the one telling you to get up in the morning, you’d better listen! This surprisingly cute mini-Vader also has poseable arms and legs.
Just to add another note: in my research for this article, I found this totally unique gift idea for a five-year-old who loves pirates. I don’t think this mom would mind if you stole the idea:
“When my son was 5 (he’s 16 now) a friend gave him a pirate chest full of treasure for his birthday. She found the chest – a wooden, child sized version of a very pirate-y looking chest – at a thrift store and filled it with mardi gras beads, fake and foreign coins, all kinds of exotic looking “jewels,” costume jewelry, polished rocks and so on. It was his absolute favorite thing for about four years. Into it went all his treasures (including, at one particularly magpie stage, half the contents of my jewelry box) from robins eggs to feathers to Simpsons pogs and he carried it from room to room like the worlds’ smallest miser. He took it to kindergarten and first grade show and tell and all the other kids were insanely jealous.”
And finally: I also stumbled on this adorable video of a little girl losing her mind on a shopping spree at Toys R’ Us. Note how she almost seems more excited about pushing the cart around than collecting toys!