By the time kids turn 5, they're able to do all kinds of activities that were previously out of their scope thanks to where they are physically, emotionally and socially. Skills like writing their own names, jumping, climbing and assigning playing roles are now likely in their repertoire, opening up a host of new toy and gift options.
"The best toys for this age group will stimulate movement in space, challenge a child’s cognition, help develop balance and coordination, encourage pretend play and foster early reading skills," says Magdalena Oledzka, P.T., Ph.D. She adds that anything in the realm of imaginary play, like dolls and vehicles, or in the creative sphere, like finger paint, molding dough and markers, can help stimulate these skills while keeping kids active and away from screens (or active in front of screens at least). In, they're more into independent play with complex play sequences, so they can go a bit beyond identifying basic shapes and colors, says Gayle Kligman, M.Ed., the executive chairman of Family of Kidz.
With these recommendations in mind, the experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute scour the market to stay on top of the latest trends and product releases in the toy industry. We test the most promising toys and games for kids in our lab and vet them to ensure they are safe, well-constructed and, above all else, fun for the little ones! We even have kid testers play with the latest releases every summer so they can tell us their favorites.
If you're wondering what to get a 5-year-old girl for her birthday or the holidays, or just want to prepare your little one for kindergarten with a few educational learning toys, check out our list of great suggestions, including some of our previous and current Good Housekeeping Toy Award winners and the best new toys of 2021. (Plus, we're still researching and testing the newest toys of 2022, and we'll be sure to update when we have results!) We've got picks for budding scientists, artists, coders, princesses and more. They'll help bolster cognitive and soft skills without your tot even realizing it.
If you're looking for more recommendations for gifts for kids, check out our other gift guides for kids of all ages, which includes gifts for toddlers and gifts for teens and everything in-between, including present ideas for 4-year-old girls, 4-year-old boys, 5-year-old boys, 6-year-old girls and 6-year-old boys.
These are the best toys and gifts for 5-year-old girls of 2022:
There's a reason Crayola's Scribble Scrubbie line won a Good Housekeeping Toy Award in 2019 — kids can customize their furry friends, rinse and repeat as many times as they'd like. (Just be prepared to soak them a bit to erase the past scribbles.) Each set includes four pets and six markers, plus a scrub tub and brush so kids can repeatedly color their animal friends. Ages 3+
She can let her imagination go and role-play with the 27 mix-and-match pieces in this dress-up trunk that includes complete outfits for Ariel, Belle and Rapunzel. Ages 3+
Sneak in some science with these cute critters that help kids learn the basics of coding. These animals are a great screen-free way to introduce STEM principles, critical thinking, problem-solving and other skills as kids go through story-based adventures and challenges. Recently, Learning Resources also introduced MagiCoders, which come in the shape of mystical animals like dragons and unicorns. Ages 4+
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Kids can plant real seeds around the border of this playset, and watch as a garden magically grows. Then, a fairy and a unicorn figure can frolic around the flowers, across the bridge, into the light-up mushroom house (it turns on when you blow on it) and past the working water pump. You can also connect this with other My Fairy Garden sets. Ages 4+
Take those blanket forts to the next level with this set of rods and connectors (no more using the couch and chairs). She can build a rocket one day, and a castle tower the next. It comes with nearly 70 pieces, but blankets are not included. Ages 5+
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Among fashion dolls, Skylar stands out because of her vibrant blue hair. A gamer, Skylar comes from The Fresh Dolls line of dolls, which is known for multicultural dolls with realistic face sculpts, real hair textures and many points of articulation to make lots of poses. Ages 3+
This globe lets kids travel the world through the magic of augmented reality. By using an app, kids can learn more about the history, geography and environment of each region by zooming in with a tablet. There are more than 1,000 world facts included! Ages 4+
This playset is basically a jumbo-sized flower pot that opens up to reveal secret compartments filled with 30 (!) hidden treasures and a guaranteed rare Blume doll waiting to be discovered. Who grows and what’s inside are total surprises. Best of all, the Blume doll can be "re-blumed" multiple times in the playset. She'll be on her way to building an entire Blume world. Ages 3+
This game gets kids to work on matching and memory skills, and at the same time teaches them about countries around the world. There are 24 pairs to match, each representing a different place around the globe. Ages 5+
Bindi Irwin lends her voice to this talking microscope, which comes loaded with more than 100 scientific facts. The slides feature 60 beautiful full-color images, and you can switch it to quiz mode to see how much your kids retain. Ages 3+
She can strut her stuff on the stage with some animal backup. The Pet Starz friends can repeat what you say or sing, and dance (including doing an awesome hair-whip). Remove the collar, and it becomes a sparkly bracelet. Ages 5+
Kids always love this textured foam, and now they can combine molding the foam with collecting the characters. Each pod contains a fantasy friend for kids to find and collect, and they can continue to play with the squishy compound, which is designed to not dry out. The collectibles pop apart and kids can trade heads and bodies to make fun new combinations. Ages 4+
Groom, shave, trim and pamper your plush pet to perfection with the Scruff-A-Luvs Cutie Cuts kit. It's the full salon experience, with clips, a comb, a collar and nail polish in tow. Our Lab experts found this rendition took something we already liked and made it even better! Ages 4+
This toy combines all the classic fun of Barbie with the excitement of a surprise, collectible toy. There are 50 surprises included, including a Barbie doll (dip her in water to "reveal" which one you get), a Chelsea doll, two pets and plenty of accessories. Ages 3+
This board game is a kid-friendly version of the popular Rush Hour puzzle game for older kids and adults. It's a great gift idea for kids since it'll help develop their critical thinking skills as they play. It comes with 40 different challenges that get increasingly more difficult as you play along. Ages 5+
It's never been easier for kids to create their own, awesome videos. This camera comes with animated backgrounds, easy editing capabilities right on the camera and special effects like time-lapse video. It also comes with a green screen to use as a background. Ages 5+
Fingerlings are still hot! These characters respond to sound, motion and touch. The fun fox will blink, turn its head, make fox chatter babble and even kiss at you. It's available in lots of fun characters and colors — there's even a series of narwhals! Ages 4+
This water painting toy is fantastic for occupying bored kids. Just fill the paintbrush with water, and as kids "paint" with it, it'll reveal colors and hidden pictures throughout the book. There are a variety of themes available, from letters and numbers to fairytales and farm animals. The water brush is easy for kids to grip and stores easily in the front cover. There's no mess, and once it dries the colors disappear again, so you can use it over and over. Ages 3+
Stomp Rocket gets kids outside and moving, jumping on the air pump that launches the rocket into the sky. They'll unconsciously learn about physics as they adjust the flight path angle and force applied to counter the weather, like wind. This particular set includes three planes: a looper (curves), a glider (soars) and a wildcat (stunts), each requiring different inputs for the desired trajectories. Ages 5+
Lots of times, you get a fun, cool compound, but don't have ideas about what to do with it. The mesmerizing Foam Alive kit comes with scoopers, domes and cones so kids can make their own pretend ice cream. It also comes with three colors of foam. Ages 5+
When princesses leave the castle, they want to deliver sweets! This playset comes with 16 accessories, including an ice cream sandwich-shaped picnic table and plenty of ice cream and cotton candy. The Disney Comfy Squad princess dolls — who are dressed in casual clothes, the way they're styled in the movie Ralph Breaks the Internet — are sold separately. Ages 5+
When she seems like she past prime Play-Doh age, this set gives the compound another dimension. She can build her own treehouse out of Play-Doh, and then personalize it with windows, doors and even a slide. It comes with seven colors of compound and two figures to play with. Ages 5+
Join Luna, the magical-looking fairy, as she dives deep into her dreams. The fairy doll comes in a moon-like packaging, which has a place for your 5-year-old to write her own dreams. Dress her up in a glitter tulle skirt, cute ballet shoes and fun clips! See if she can spot Luna's "Dream Mark," which is on every Dream Seeker's wrist and represents the Doll's personality and the dream that they seek! Ages 5+
This play space for over 2,000 water beads creates a totally satisfying sensory experience for kids. One parent tester noted aptly that while this can still get messy, they are easier to clean up than kinetic sand and play dough pieces. Our Little Lab testers loved them, but parents noted the build quality could be improved. Ages 5+
These cute kiddos are designed to help your kids ease the transition into kindergarten. The six dolls in the line are all pals at Rainbow Kindi, their school. They also come with interactive "snack time" accessories that make them move and make sounds. Ages 3+
Tie dye is always trendy, and this lounge set is both cute and made from comfy cotton. It comes in other colors in sizes up to 6T.
This washable paint ensures they can get their creativity flowing while keeping it stress-free for you. Parents and children alike enjoyed that it isn't super messy, but keep in mind that it uses a thicker consistency than normal paint textures to keep from dripping. Ages 3+
Help them work on their matching skills, their memory and their familiarity with musical instruments with this memory game. It's portable enough to bring to Grandma's house, too. Ages 5+
Flexible yet durable, these building sticks encourage kids to use open-ended imagination and build up whatever their creativity desires! All of the included 400 sticks are uniquely designed with notches, slots and hexagonal holes that snap together with other pieces. Ages 4+
Tap into her creative side with this set, which comes with dinosaur-printed folding paper, step-by-step instructions and even stickers to finish off the dinosaur looks. You can also get it in a tropical motif. Ages 4+
Toy brand staple Care Bears are celebrating everyone's uniqueness with its brand new Togetherness Bear. With the motto “Love All,” it's all about promoting kindness and carries a nostalgic vibe. It was rated well among our Parenting Lab testers who found it soft and cuddly. Ages 4+RELATED: The Best Stuffed Animal Storage Ideas to Help Corral Their Loveys
Everyone loves the iconic Play-Doh modeling compound, but now the company offers other textures for your slime-obsessed kids. Look for Play-Doh Slime, Super Stretch, Hydroglitz, Krackle, Elastix, Super Cloud and Foam, all of which offer a different sensation for hands-on kids. Ages 3+
With the PLUS PLUS building system, every piece fits together for endless building combinations. You can use the step-by-step instructions to make this rocket, and then take it apart and come up with your own creations. If the space kit does not appeal, you can also find mermaids, unicorns, superheroes, flamingoes and other, open-ended sets. Ages 3+
In this family board game, players must stack different sizes of cups on a tipsy table, which makes for lots of toppled tea towers (and laughs from all involved). If your child needs to work on fine motor coordination (and their nerves), this is the game! Ages 5+
Once she puts this puzzle together, it'll look great on a shelf in her room. It's made from recycled cardboard and printed with vegetable inks, and comes flat packed. Ages 3+