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Best toys for five-year-olds 2023: Our favourite picks for fun, games and a bit of learning, too

Struggling to find the best toy for your five-year-old? Browse our top picks of the most fun and educational toys available right now

Five is a wonderful age: an age where children are finding their voice, exploring their emotions and bursting to learn about and explore the world they live in. Their scattergun enthusiasm can make it hard to decide on the best toys for a five-year-old, but broadly speaking, you want toys that both pique their natural curiosity and engage and entertain them. Make the right choice, and the best toys here may even make them forget about stealing your phone or half-inching the iPad – for a little while, anyway.

The joy and excitement of playtime is a crucial part of every child’s development. It does more than just entertain: it also helps them build the emotional, social and analytical skills they need to grow as a person. Once upon a time, toys were simple wooden objects, balls, teddies or dollies. And while these are all enduringly popular playroom and playground staples, the best toys for 5-year-olds manage to seize their attention while also subtly educating and guiding their curious minds into new discoveries and observations.

In this article, we’ve looked to include a mixture of classic toys with ones that are innovative and forward-thinking – and the selection here spans a range of prices, too. We’ve made efforts to ensure that, where possible, the toys have some eco-friendly credentials, avoiding materials that are harmful to the environment. But, first and foremost, we believe the toys here are fun – and our five-year-old testers seem to agree.

READ NEXT: The best toys for eight-year-olds

Best toys for five-year-olds: At a glance

  • Best game overall: Janod Acrobat | Buy now
  • Best for crafting: Janod Llama Pompoms | Buy now
  • Best practical toy: Moulin Roty Baking Set | Buy now
  • Best for budding scientists: Geosafari Jr Kidscope | Buy now
  • Best engrossing game: Aquabeads Mario Creation Cube | Buy now
  • Best for roleplay: Melissa & Doug School Time Classroom Play Set | Buy now

How we test toys for five-year-olds

At Expert Reviews, we know that hands-on testing gives us the best and most complete information about a product. We test all the toys we review, essentially providing a small group of five-year-old children the chance to play with all of the toys in our roundup.

We wanted to observe which ones they were naturally drawn to and why. We also wanted to see how easy it was for our little testers to understand how to operate or play with each toy, and we noted whether adult supervision was needed. We noted how long the children used each toy, before getting bored, and how easy it was to put them away, as well as whether it produced much mess.

We also considered the materials the toys were constructed from, and whether the toy could last long enough to be handed down to a younger generation or not.

The best toys for five-year-olds in 2023

1. Aquabeads Creation Cube – Super Mario: The best engrossing game for five-year-olds

Price: £29 | Buy now from Amazon

Getting lost in the world of Aquabeads is so addictive – five-year-olds will be engrossed for hours, all the while honing fine motor skills, concentration and the ability to recognise patterns and create order.

Aquabeads allow children to build 3D models by assembling coloured beads on a special transparent tray. Once the beads are all in place, then comes the fun part – spraying them with water with the supplied little spray bottle causes the beads to become sticky and join together.

Five-year-olds will need a little help with set-up, and it will probably get a little bit messy – no matter how hard you try to prevent it, beads will spill onto your floor. Drying time is required, which means patience needs to be employed, too.

This is a highly satisfying toy and it’s also available in a range of alternative themes to suit any child. We’re big fans of the Mario set, though.

Key features – Materials: Plastic; Hand-me-down: No

2. Janod Acrobat: The best game for five-year-olds

Price: £23 | Buy now from Amazon

With a beautiful vintage look to it, this game is charming before you’ve even started to play it. The moment it came out of the box, our tester was instantly taken with it.

The rules are fairly simple: players take turns to roll three coloured dice. The three colours correspond to dots on a round board and three wooden “acrobats” are placed on the three colours dictated by the dice. The next player balances a new board on top of the three acrobats placed by the previous player and this continues until there’s a tall tower of increasing instability.

It’s suspenseful and addictive – those who love Jenga will be all over this. It’s fun to play for kids and adults alike, and it’s a lovely way to teach children about logic and consequences. Best of all, each game lasts about 15 minutes so it’s perfect for a five-year-old’s concentration span.

Key features – Materials: Paper, wood; Number of players: 2+; Hand-me-down: Yes

3. Moulin Roty Baking Set: The best practical toy for five-year-olds

Price: £59 | Buy now from Kidly

Five is a brilliant age for children to start their training for The Great British Bake Off, and this lovely little set from Moulin Roty is a great place to start.

This retro-style baking set is perfectly charming: it packs neatly into a compact, pretty little suitcase which is just the ticket for mini pastry chefs. The set includes an oven mitt, rolling pin, spatula, metal whisk, loaf tin, flan case, muffin tin and cookie cutters.

Everything inside is fully functional and ready to be used in a real live kitchen – the tins are both oven- and dishwasher-safe. There’s even a recipe book for children to write out their recipes. A gorgeous, delightfully practical toy.

Key features – Materials: Metal, card, cotton; Hand-me-down: Yes

Buy now from Kidly

4. Geosafari Jr Kidscope: The best for budding scientists

Price: £44 | Buy now from Learning Resources

This multi-coloured microscope is the perfect toy for any child who is already obsessed with the natural world – and it’s a great way to get other children interested, too.

It comes with 60 different photographic images of animals, rocks, plants and chemicals across 15 different slides. Each image can magnify to three times larger, allowing children to get super close and explore the intricacies that exist in any natural object. Children can also place their own found items – pebbles, flowers, feathers – under the microscope and inspect them, just like a real scientist would.

The microscope is really easy to use. The dual eye viewer is large and means children don’t need to close one eye. There’s a focusing knob on the side, which is as intuitive to use as it looks.

This is a brilliant toy for five-year-olds that’s guaranteed to help them appreciate and learn about the natural world.

Key features – Materials: Plastic; Hand-me-down: Yes; Battery: Requires 3 AAA batteries (not included)

Buy now from Learning Resources

5. Melissa & Doug School Time Classroom Play Set: The best for role play

Price: £27 | Buy now from Amazon

This playset is essentially a double-sided desk, one side for the “teacher” and the other for the “pupil”. It’s an immediately inviting toy, largely because it’s familiar but also because it allows little ones to be in charge (watch them negotiate who gets the role of teacher each time).

The classroom supplies include two double-sided write-on, wipe-off boards, two dry-erase markers, nine reusable activity cards, 150 reusable stickers, a bell and even a pointer.

We really rate this for how it encourages role play and allows children to experience both learning and teaching.

Key features – Materials: Plastic, paper, wood; Hand-me-down: Yes

6. Janod Llama Pompoms: The best for crafting

Price: £10 | Buy now from Popsy & Peanut

Llama love is still going strong. It’s very much a motif du jour for five-year-olds: you’ll find these fuzzy, fluffy friends on backpacks to bed linen and anything in between.

This colourful little box contains a fun craft activity: three boards each illustrated with a different scene featuring friendly, cute llamas. Children are involved to add some 3D texture to each scene with the help of 200 multi-coloured pompoms and threads. This can easily while away an afternoon without the mess or chaos of paint or papier-mache.

Key features – Material: Paper, card, cotton; Hand-me-down: No

Buy now from Popsy & Peanut

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