In our desire to do the best for our kids, we can sometimes try to make every moment an academic learning experience. However, play is an essential element of every childhood, and the fun aspect of educational toys for 5-year-olds can be lacking.
We’ve combined our experience with extensive research to bring you this list of 25 educational toys that will not only teach your 5-year-old but will be a fun-filled way to spend their time.
- Passive & active learning
- Wide range of knowledge
- Stylus is attached to base
- Two games in one
- Spinning device creates excitement
- Teaches color & number
- Durable silicone construction
- Portable for travel
- Versatile &engaging
- Explorer vest has plenty of pockets
- Working compass
- Clipboard encourages note-taking
- Simple, age-appropriate science
- No household items needed
- Fun experiments
- No gadgets required
- Attention holding & versatile
- Flexible play options
- Promotes logical thinking
- Comes with storage bag
- Introduces algebra & physics
- Follows Magic School Bus show
- 33 experiments to try
- Progressively builds knowledge
- Durable, reusable skeletons
- Combines art & science
- Comes in other variants
- Compatible with other sets
- Structured & free-form play
- Screen-free & non-motorized
What Should a 5-Year-Old Be Learning?
It is entirely normal for a child to be ahead of their peers in some areas and behind them in others. This is because we all learn things in different ways and at varying rates.
When you look at the milestones for a 5-year-old child, remember that these are the things an average child of this age will be able to do. It doesn’t mean they can magically do these things the moment they turn 5, but sometime before their 6th birthday.
So, with those thoughts in mind, here are some of the things you can expect your child to be able to do before they turn 6.
Count To Ten
Your child will probably be able to count to ten before their 5th birthday, but, to some degree, this will be a matter of saying words in a particular order rather than understanding the concept of numbers and counting.
Name At Least Three Shapes And Four Colors
Being able to recognize and name colors and shapes is an essential foundational skill. Not only is this ability important for math, but it also expands your child’s vocabulary and allows them to express their needs in a more specific manner (1).
Express Positional Vocabulary
Using and understanding positional vocabulary helps your child to communicate more effectively. When your little one can tell you things like the book they’d like is “on top of” the bookshelf, it reduces frustration.
Grasp Money Basics
Although your child will not be able to estimate the cost of something accurately, they will begin to learn which banknotes and coins are which. They will also start to understand some concepts, such as four quarters being the same as one dollar.
Recognize Written Words
While reading may be a little ways off for your 5-year-old, you can expect them to recognize some essential, familiar written words. One example is if they are familiar with a stop sign, they will be able to read the word STOP in other situations.
Draw Shapes By Copying
Looking at a shape and being able to name it is a different skill than hearing the name of a shape and being able to draw it accurately from memory. So, if you ask your child to draw a triangle without any reference, they may not be able to, but they will be able to copy one.
Draw Recognizable Objects
It’s around this time that your child will start to add more detail to drawings. They will also have better fine motor skills. You’ll begin to see things like a drawing of a body rather than a stick figure.
Those new counting and fine motor skills can be combined, and your child will be able to stack several blocks in response to a request. If you ask, “Can you build a tower of ten blocks?”, your child will be able to do so.
Share & Take Turns
This is the age when kids begin to enjoy playing, sharing, and taking turns with others. They will start to enjoy board games, card games, and other activities that require patience and cooperation.
How to Choose Educational Toys for 5-Year-Olds
With so many options available, how do you choose suitable educational toys for a 5-year-old?
Choose toys that cover a variety of skills and academic areas. Toys that provide an opportunity to develop artistic and physical skills are just as important as those focusing on reading.
One of the best ways to help your child learn is to choose items that relate to their current interests, learning style, and preferences. It’s not just about the subject matter.
So if you have a quiet child, board games and crafts might be suitable, and if you have an active kiddo, the kind of games that allow them to jump about will be better.
Educational toys for 5-year-olds do not have to last forever, but it is important that they stand up to use for a few years at least. Look for items that are well made from quality materials.
By the time your child is 5 years, choking hazards are no longer a big concern unless you have younger children in the household, too.
Now you’ll want to look for toys that are free from harmful or potentially harmful materials and will not break up into dangerous pieces.
Rather than looking for toys and trying to stretch your budget to afford them, set a reasonable budget, and look for the best toys in your price range. This will minimize the chance of spending too much on things your child may not enjoy.
The Best Educational Toys for 5-Year-Olds of 2021
Taking all of those points into consideration, here are our suggestions for some of the best educational toys for 5-year-olds.
1. LeapFrog Magic Adventures Globe
Tap the stylus against the globe and hear one of thousands of educational facts about geography, geology, animals, habitat, and more.
For interactive fun, there’s a puzzle game, an “against the clock” challenge, and a quiz.
In addition, the base has a 2.7-inch screen on which you can watch over 600 custom videos from the BBC Wildlife team.
- Passive and active learning opportunities.
- Wide range of knowledge.
- The stylus is attached, so it is difficult to lose.
- The screen could be bigger — it’s tiny for watching videos.
2. Spin-a-roo Board Game
The Spin-A-Roo is two games in one. Younger children will enjoy the first game where they must race to match the colors and numbers on their cards before anyone else.
Then, when they are more confident, they can play the second game where they have to be able to count up and down from one to ten.
- Two games in one.
- The spinning device creates excitement.
- Teaches color and number confidence.
- It may not be challenging enough for some kids.
3. Sphero Specdrums
Creativity meets tech with these fabulous little rings from Sphero.
Slip a Specdrum onto your finger and tap them against the included “play pad” to create music.
Alternatively, you can tap them on any surface, and the rings will create sounds in response to the surface’s color.
Download the app to your smartphone, tablet, or any other Bluetooth enabled MIDI device, and you can create music wherever you happen to be.
- Durable silicone construction.
- Portable — since they will work on other surfaces, they are great for traveling.
- Requires an app download.
4. Outdoor Explorer Kit
Landing at the sweet spot where affordability and price meet, this kit contains everything your child needs to begin exploring the wonderful world of nature.
Gently scoop up your bugs with the globe ended tongs and drop them into one of the bug boxes for observation. Then note your observations on the clipboard and pad.
Encourages observational skills and physical activity as well as a way to learn about our natural environment.
- Explorer vest has plenty of pockets.
- Working compass.
- Clipboard encourages note-taking.
- Cheap plastic bugs.
5. Galt Toys Slime Lab
The Galt Toys Slime Lab has seven different scientific “experiments.”
The 16-page instruction booklet guides you and your child through the steps to make, among other things, a glow-in-the-dark slime alien and a bouncy slime ball.
The box has everything you need to carry all of the booklet’s experiments, so there’s no need to supplement the kit with other items, which we think is a huge bonus.
However, beware of the fart noise slime experiment. It induces unstoppable giggles.
- Simple, age-appropriate science.
- No household items needed.
- Slime can be messy.
6. Botley the Coding Robot Activity Set
Botley introduces the basic concepts of coding — the idea that you create a series of commands, send them to the robot, see what it does, and change your commands if the outcome is not what you wanted.
This set includes over 70 accessories so your child can build fun courses to send Botley through, including the programming device.
- No phone, tablet, or computer required.
- Attention holding and versatile.
- Flexible play options.
- Requires 5 AAA batteries.
7. Balance Beans Math Game
Balance Beans is a fun seesaw game for children to play alone or with others. That means it’s good for an only child or for kids with siblings or a lot of friends.
Take one of the 40 challenge cards and lay out the beans on one side of the seesaw as they are shown. Then use other beans on the opposite side to balance the seesaw.
The first challenges are appropriate for complete beginners and then become progressively more challenging.
- Promotes logical thinking.
- Storage bag for easy portability.
- Introduces principles of algebra and physics.
- Won’t appeal to everyone.
8. The Magic School Bus Engineering Lab
Open up the fun, bus-shaped storage box and discover 33 experiment instruction cards, a “data notebook” for your child to record their observations, a solar panel, a motor, an electrical buzzer, and more.
The kit asks questions and encourages your child to form a hypothesis, building on their experience from previous experiments and then testing their theories.
- Links to Magic School Bus show, which your child may already love.
- Progressively builds knowledge.
- Some household materials are needed, such as vinegar.
9. Create With Clay Dinosaurs
This set from Create With Clay has a trio of molded plastic dinosaur skeletons. It also has all of the clay you need to flesh them out and create three models, a T-Rex, a stegosaurus, and a triceratops.
The clay is non-toxic and non-staining, and there is also a pair of googly eyes for each dinosaur and two modeling tools.
- Durable, reusable skeletons.
- Combines art and science.
- Other sets are available.
- More clay would be better.
10. Gears! Gears! Gears! Robots in Motion
With more than 110 brightly-colored pieces, this Robots In Motion set gives your child options. They can either follow the instructions and build one of the pre-designed robots or let their imagination run wild and design one of their own.
Finished robots are not motorized, so there’s no need for batteries. However, depending on the build, they do have plenty of fun and exciting moving parts.
- Compatible with other Gears! Gears! Gears! sets.
- Structured and free-form play opportunities.
- Screen-free and non-motorized.
- May need adult help for disassembly.
11. MERGE Cube
The MERGE Cube is a foam block that interacts with your smart device.
You aim your device’s camera at the block while you are holding it, and as you turn the block in your hand, the image on the screen will move in the same way.
This allows you to view things through the app on your phone, such as a globe, as if you were holding them.
- Useful for visual learners.
- Wide range of apps.
- Fun games.
- Some features require a paid subscription or VR headset.
12. GeoSafari Jr. Ladybug Garden
This robust ladybug garden allows you to watch as larvae turn into ladybugs over the course of around four weeks.
Full instructions for the proper care of your larvae are included. Once you buy your larvae, which are not included, you transfer them to the habitat, and you can feed them through the smaller lid within the main lid, preventing escapees.
- Encourages observational skills and patience.
- Built-in magnification spots.
- Ladybug larvae are not included.
13. Learn & Climb 21 Experiments Science Set
While this is not the highest quality multiple science experiment kit out there, it is a decent one for the price.
Along with a variety of basic items such as PVA glue and baking soda, the kit contains sturdy plastic test tubes with screw-on lids and a stand-in in which to place them. It also has a fun volcano, Petri dishes, and a beaker, all of which are reusable.
The experiments are interesting enough to capture a 5-year-old’s attention and demonstrate a range of scientific principles.
- Instructional videos are available.
- Progressively more difficult.
- Reasonable quality equipment.
- Requires household items.
14. Electro Dough Project Kit
With an Electro Dough kit, your child will learn about electricity while molding imaginative creations. There are instructions for making a range of models. Then, when your child is more confident, they can begin building models of their own.
There is a variety of LEDs and connectors, a battery pack, and batteries. The conductive dough set includes access to the Tech Will Save Us online portal, which has more than 500 hours of step-by-step videos for additional projects.
- Compatible with regular Play-Doh.
- Encourages creativity.
- Maintains interest.
- Could contain more dough.
15. Sight Word Swat Game
With five levels of play, this fun game grows with your child.
The concept is simple. One person reads out a sight word, and the other players race to “swat” the fly-shaped card with the matching word.
There are five colors of card and bug, each with a different level of difficulty. It also includes several blank cards and two dry erase markers so you can use the words of your choice.
- Combines physical activity and wordplay.
- Storage bag included.
- Suitable indoors and out.
- Some kids get aggressive.
16. Dive into Shapes!
While this is a box of cards, plastic balls, and sticks, some kids will enjoy this for hours on end.
The cards show different 2D and 3D shapes for your child to recreate, as well as challenges connected to that shape. One card shows a cube and asks if you can build a bigger one.
Part of this toy’s beauty is that it can be used with cards or without for free-form play.
- Promotes fine motor skills.
- Teaches basic math concepts.
- Encourages creative thinking.
- Could include more challenges.
17. Crashapult! STEM Challenge
This is an excellent toy that introduces the concepts of force, motion, and direction to kids while they play.
The child operated seesaw catapult sends the ball flying through the air.
It’s up to your little one to work out how to make it pass through the hoops and land in either the goal cup or the target funnel.
- It can be a high or low energy game.
- Outdoor or indoor play.
- No batteries are required.
- More accessories would be nice.
18. GeoSafari Ant Factory
Enjoy watching your ants create their city in this escape-free ant habitat from GeoSafari.
When closed, the colony is sealed to prevent escapees. It’s designed so you can provide your ants with the food and water they need through a small, escape-proof opening.
It comes with a dropper and a tunnel starter, but you do need to buy some play sand for the ants to live in.
- Includes an activity guide.
- Promotes nurturing.
- Fascinating for the entire family.
- Sand is not included.
19. Educational Insights Hot Dots
One pen and two spiral-bound books combine to bring you 100 lessons in literacy covering spelling, punctuations, comprehension, vocabulary, and more.
Your child presses the Hot Dots pen on their answer in the book, the pen reads it out, and then tells your child if they are right or wrong.
- Great for travel.
- Easy to use.
- It does get some false readings at times.
20. Jackinthebox Space Educational Stem Toy
Projects included in this box include a solar system mobile and a kaleidoscope, but that’s not all there is to this big box of space-themed crafts.
Add a pack of Oreos, and you’ll learn how to lick the cream off the center and create a diagram of the phases of the moon. Then there’s the board game you make yourself, the constellation streamer, and the rocket experiment to enjoy.
- Aimed at craft lovers.
- Unusual projects.
- No background information.
21. Beaker Creatures Liquid Reactor Super Lab
The central part of this toy is the “reactor lab” into which you drop the reactor pods. The pods sit in a beaker, and when you pump the liquid from the tubes to the beaker, there’s a chemical reaction that reveals a fun creature.
The set comes with two pods, and you can buy additional pods.
- Other creatures are available.
- 15-piece set.
- Potential for a mess.
22. Plugo Tunes by PlayShifu
Plugo Tunes is a keyboard that you link to a tablet or smartphone. You place your device on the stand, in the play pad, set the keyboard on the mat, and you can learn musical notes as well as how to play over 50 tunes.
You need the internet to download the initial app, but once that’s done, you do not need any wi-fi, internet, or Bluetooth connectivity.
- No batteries are required.
- You can record your own music.
- Requires a smart device to get started.
23. Circuit Explorer Deluxe Base Station
Circuit Explorers is a unique line of building toys with built-in connectors that allow your child to build exciting 3D circuits within toys that move and light-up. The instructional booklet is image-focused, so no reading is required.
There are multiple Circuit Explorers sets, which work alone or together, so if your child enjoys this set, you can always add more to the mix.
- Teaches circuit basics.
- Guided and open-ended play.
- Promotes logical thinking.
- Batteries required.
24. Learn & Climb Play Money
Use these realistic notes, coins, credit cards, and a checkbook to teach your child about money.
The items come in a storage tray and can be used as either a teaching tool in themselves or as part of a broader game, such as a pretend store.
We particularly enjoy using this set to demonstrate the differences in the prices of things our children would like.
- Promotes financial literacy.
- Excellent for math.
- Works with multiple toys and games.
- Cashless transactions are making this less relevant.
25. Sum Swamp Board Game
Particularly useful for learning-averse kids, Sum Swamp is a hit in our home because our daughter doesn’t realize she’s practicing math.
As you work your way around the board, you encounter math challenges that require you to exercise your addition and subtraction muscles.
It is easy to learn how to play the game while being challenging enough to be a worthwhile learning experience.
- Learning disguised as fun.
- Camouflaged math drills.
- Just competitive enough.
- Not for older kids.
Laugh And Learn
Play is a critical part of childhood and one that can be overlooked when we try to pack our children’s lives full of educational experiences.
However, these educational toys for 5-year-olds have been chosen because they are inherently fun. The learning element is a fortunate by-product and a blast for adults and children to enjoy together.