Your 5-year-old is a creative and enthusiastic problem solver, and usually up for a toy that requires some focus or offers a building or thinking or sustained imaginative-play challenge.
Your child can also use his or her fingers much more flexibly to control writing, painting and crafting tools and tackle more complicated construction or technology toys.
Here are the best toys to choose for your 5-year-old:
What it is: A learn-to-paint kit that lets you paint an 19cm x 21cm octopus, elephant, crab and whale, using stencils in an easy-to-follow 3-step process. The kit includes: 5 stencils, 5 paints, 4 sheets with coloured border, a roller, a brush, a palette.
Why we love it: There’s a nice contrast here between the way the roller covers big areas and how the brush can be used for smaller details. According to parents, our child toy testers were kept amused by this kit for a long time, partly because there’s so much variety with that you can do. An added bonus is it’s easy to clean which we think is a big positive for busy mums and dads when choosing art kits like this.
Available from: Amazon and Gifts for Little Hands
What it is: A dinosaur version of the popular Fingerlings toys. These 12cm interactive dinos sit on your finger and can move their heads and make strange (and pretty spooky) dinosaurs noises. Batteries required: 4x LR44 (included).
Why we love it: Fingerlings have been popular for some time now, and we really like the fact they’ve gone for a less ‘cutesy’ version (which the monkeys definitely are). These dinos look great, the noises they make are eery, and the way their eyes blink is pretty creepy too. We discovered, from our toy awards, that these are the kind of toys children want to take to school or round their friends’ houses to show them off, meaning the Fingerlings popularity continues to grow and grow.
Available from: Argos, Amazon and Smyths Toys
What it is: A 25cm x 29cm x 18cm nursery for baby Sylvanians which comes with a piano, swing, a slide that can be set alone or used from the second floor, and a table that turns into a seesaw.
Why we love it: Even though this piece is fairly small, you can make different layouts with it, so you can have a larger lounge and a garden. When we saw it at Dreamtoys in 2018 we couldn’t get over how cute this looks in real life. If your child is a Sylvanian family fan, this is a really nice add-on piece for their collection.
Available from: Argos, Debenhams and Smyth’s Toys
Age: 3-8 years
What it is: A huge 97cm wooden playset with 3 levels and 12 themed rooms and a roof-to-floor fire pole. It includes a 35-piece accessory kit with a police motorcycle, fire truck, fire dog and more.
Why we love it: The sturdy set is really great quality. It has so many features and accessories that it will keep kids entertained for hours. One thing though – we have heard parents say that it is fiddly to build.
Available at: Amazon and Smart Kid Store
Age: 5 – 9 years
What it is: A quirky and colourful 36cm tall motorised robot with colourful gears, chomping teeth, glow-in-the-dark eyeballs and flashing lights that your child will build themselves, out of 130 pieces. 3 batteries are needed to get it working, and they’re not included.
Why we love it: Girls and boys with a wicked sense of humour and an aptitude for science stuff are sure to get a kick out of this build-it-yourself challenge. We really like how putting the gears and pieces together into a successful toy helps encourage STEM and problem-solving skills, as well as giving little ones a real sense of accomplishment. We also like that the building’s not the whole fun, too. The ‘wacky’ character chomps his teeth, flashes lights, has glow in the dark eyes and isn’t afraid to spring out at you.
Available at: Learning Resources and Amazon
What it is: A 40cm 53-piece marble helter skelter, including 9 chutes, 9 curves, 24 tubes, 6 bases, a snake pass,a rotary drop, a paddle wheel, a roundabout and 8 marbles.
Why we love it: It’s easy for a child to slot together (thought they may need some help the very first time) and it’s very robust. Most 5-year-olds will be FASCINATED by the marbles running through the chutes and wheels. You may want to buy some more marbles to top up the fun quotient even more.
Available at: Galt Toys and Ocado
What it is: This 37.7cm x 39.5cm x 19.8cm lighthouse projects 3 different night skies onto the ceiling of your little one’s room and attaches to other Sylvanian family furniture. 2AA batteries required (included).
Why we love it: Another lovely, sturdy home for those cutest of creatures, the little Sylvanian family figures. One thing to note is that it doesn’t come with any figures – though if your child’s already a fan chances are you’ll have plenty around already to occupy the space.
Available at: Asda and Amazon
What it is: This 273-piece building set makes a 9cm x 23cm x 21cm space research shuttle with an opening cockpit, 2 large opening doors and space inside for the storage drone, plus a NASA-inspired Mars rover with an articulated arm. It also comes with 2 LEGO City astronaut minifigures.
Why we love it: What’s not to love about LEGO? And this inventive playset is brilliant for any space fan. It’s a great transition toy to get kids into LEGO – That’s not to say you may not need to help out on the construction – but that’s all part of the fun!
Available at: Lego, Amazon and John Lewis
What it is: A brain-teaser 24cm x 29cm x 6cm puzzle based around the story of Little Red Riding Hood. It includes the board, 5 road puzzle pieces, 3 trees, Little Red Riding Hood, the Wolf, Granny’s house, and a booklet of 48 challenges. Comes with a little picture book of the Red Riding Hood tale.
Why we love it: This fun game won Gold in our 2017 Toy Awards. It is brilliant at helping children develop logical thinking and spatial awareness. Our child testers were loved working out how to get Little Red Riding Hood safely to Grannny’s House. We like how the challenges get more difficult as you work though the booklet.
Available at: SmartToys and Amazon
What it is: A set measuring 28.4cm x 20.3cm, including 17 foam stickers and 5 glitter sheets, so you child can have tonnes of fun making glittery spaceships, creepy crawlies, dinosaurs and more.
Why we love it: Want a glitter activity that doesn’t leave you vacuuming up glitter from EVERYWHERE for weeks? This is it! And this kit really is great value and easy to use: just peel away the white paper from the sticker shapes, then press them on one of the glitter sheets for instant sparkle.
Available from: Cara Pharmacy, Amazon and Toy Street
Age: 5 +
What it is: A 22cm touchscreen ‘smart watch’ that takes photos, records videos, adds fun photo effects, frames and filters, records your voice – and, oh yes, tells the time. Available in 6 different colours, and comes with a micro USB cable for recharging and file transfer.
Why we love it: It’s pretty cool to wear and is packed with stuff to do: as well as the photo-taking and video-making options, there are 3 built-in games, and over 50 watch-face designs to choose from. We suspect loads of 5-year-olds will love the voice recorder best – with its funny voice-changing effects. The watch has 128 MB of built-in memory, allowing for storage of around 900 photos or 15 minutes of video. No surprise is was an award winner in our 2017 toy awards.
Available at: VTech and Amazon
What it is: A jewellery-making craft kit that contains beautiful sparkling beads, stretch cords, clasps, fittings and instructions. You can make 10 pieces with this kit.
Why we love it: Gorgeous crafty fun, with a little bit of unicorn magic thrown in. And at the end of it you’ll have some super-sparkly bling to wear!
Available from: Very
Age: 3 +
What it is: This 11cm x 29cm x 23cm cafe set comes with characters who can sit, stand and grasp objects, kitchen equipment, food, horses, horse tethers, a trough, table and chairs and so much more.
Why we love it: Schleich toys are iconic for a reason – and this fun cafe is a beautiful addition to the range. We love that there are cute secret notes in the cafe, left by other customers for each other.
Available at: Schleich and Amazon
What it is: A stable and paddock set, where you can groom healthy horses and patch up the ones who are poorly. Comes with stable, 2 people figures, 2 horses, a duck and 2 ducklings, vet accessories and assembly instructions.
Why we love it: It’s pretty easy to construct and is full of sweet details and surprises. The perfect toy for your animal-loving 5-year-old!
Suitable for ages: 4 years and up.
Available at: Amazon, Playmobil and Smyths Toys
What it is: A Hama-beads set that comes with 2500 midi beads – which are 5mm in diameter – 1 square pegboard, 1 round pegboard, 1 mobile frame, ironing paper, thread, instructions and a pattern guide. Your child’s creations, once ironed, can be strung up into a space-themed mobile (mobile ring and string included).
Why we love it: Most 5-year-olds love Hama beads and can literally spend hours concentrating on choosing the bead and making the patterns. We love this set because it’s pretty gender neutral – and the idea of making the finished creations into a mobile is genius!
Available at: Fun Learning and Amazon
What it is: A 25.5cm x 4.4cm x 22.1cm bestselling board game for 2 to 4 players, where you have a set of items to buy, and you throw the dice to move from shop to shop, using your plastic money to buy your shopping before everyone else.
Why we love it: It’s a great way to do lots of counting, and learn about giving money and getting change. It’s well-thought out and good fun, too, and doesn’t take forever to play.
Suitable for ages: 5 years and up.
Available at: Amazon and Orchard Toys
Age: 4 to 7 years
What it is: A 24cm x 23cm x 34cm 121-piece play kit with a UV torch, a rotating laser gun with LED light and a plant with closed leaves which opens to reveal a hidden mushroom. There are also Crystals, jungle plant and a test tube made with UV-active plastic which can be lit up in the dark with the torch. There’s also the Explorers team and a T-Rex with movable arms.
Why we love it: There’s lots you can do with this kit and we’ve heard many times that parents reckon it’s good value – not only for what you get, but for the good amount of play time children seem to get from it.
Available from: Playmobil and Amazon
What it is: A 22cm x 18cm x 5cm butterfly that flaps in your hands – it is part of the Live Pets range (you might have seen the birds and the puppies). Don’t forget batteries – this one takes 2xAAs and they’re not included.
Why we love it: If you have a child who’s already familiar with the Little Live Pets and loves them, we think this is a really pretty one to add to their collection. Your butterfly flaps her glitterly wings and gets energy from the flower base. Another nice thing about these is that there are 6 to collect, with cute names including Love Art, Confetti and Flutter Heart.
Available from: Amazon and Argos
What it is: This 27cm game is for 2 or more players and includes 1 fox, 21 chickens, 4 chicken coops, 1 sticker sheet and instructions.
Why we love it: The fox steals chickens but if he puts too many in his pockets his pants will fall down! You need to try and rescue the chickens and get them into their coop. This is a nice quality game and really fun – your child can add the stickers to jolly it up and the rules are nice and simple so younger children can enjoy it too.
Available from: Amazon and Very