Parenting Resources

10 Learning Toys for a 5 Year Old

Sometime before the holidays, I was talking to a friend about the type of presents we were giving our children, friends, and family.  We were both talking about how we were trying to cut down on the flimsy, plastic trinket-type toys that kids play with for 2 minutes and then they end up either broken or forgotten about.  This year my holiday shopping focused on toys that were both educational and fun for my 5 year old and his similarly-aged cousins and friends.

Here are some of the coolest learning toys I came across during my holiday shopping last year.  Lots of these toys are almost as much fun for adults – and I’ve learned a bit from them, too!

  1. GeoSafari Junior Talking Microscope.This fun, talking microscope gives children the opportunity to get up close and personal with specimens and insects.  Your kids can even quiz themselves on what they’ve learned.  It’s the perfect learning toy for a kid who is interested in science.

  2. Magic School Bus Science Kits.  Did anyone else grow up reading the Magic School Bus books?  I loved them and it’s fun to see that the Magic School Bus has science kits now.  These are super fun for the budding scientist.  They have a variety of kits ranging from the human body to weather.

  3. Edu Science Young Explorer Illuminated Globe.  Globes are a wonderful tool for kids who want to learn about the world around them.  There are a lot of snazzy globes out there for kids nowadays, but I love just a simple globe like this one.  It does have a fun perk, though:  it lights up and you can see constellations.

  4. Erector Set.  This classic toy has entertained young engineers for generations.  The Construction System line is made specifically for little hands – it’s perfect for a 5 year old.  Kids can learn basic engineering and building principles and as a bonus, afterwards they can play with their masterpieces.


  1. Legos. I love Legos for kids because, like an Erector set, they can teach kids basic engineering, building, and direction-following skills.  They can also be a totally creative toy, where kids can design their own buildings and vehicles.  Legos truly never get boring.

  2. Scientific Explorer’s Ice Cream Science Kit.  Learning toys are fun, but what could make a science kit even more fun?  Ice cream!  This science kit teaches kids about the science of ice crystals while they make a delicious dessert.

  3. Fire HD Kids Edition.  There are tons of tablets for kids on the market right now, but I like the Fire HD Kids Edition quite a bit.  I don’t want a tablet that my kid will outgrow next year.  The Fire HD Kids Edition has different interfaces, one for little kids, one for older kids, and one for adults.  It also comes with a very durable case and a 2 year no-questions-asked warranty.  You have access to the Amazon App store, which has lots of educational apps.

  4. LeapFrog Printing Dry Erase Activity Book.  These letter-tracing activity books are great for kids who are just at the beginning stages of learning to write or kids who need to work on making their letters straight and legible.  No more wasting paper, just wipe clean and start over again.

  1. See-Through Compost Container.  This is educational for both kids and adults.  You can put anything in this container and watch it break down!  There are three separate compartments that allow you to view the entire decomposition process clearly.  Learn what will biodegrade outside and what kinds of items won’t decompose.  It’s also a lesson on the environment and why littering is bad and recycling is important.


  1. Record & Learn KidiStudio.  If you have a kid who has a passion to play music, this learning piano toy is a wonderful pick.  Children can learn to play their favorite tunes by following the lights on the light-up keyboard.  They can also get in touch with their creative side and record their own creations.  It’s great fun and a nice way to get a young kid interested in playing the keyboard.

There are so many excellent learning toys for 5 year olds available right now.  From science-related toys to helping kids learn to write, these toys make learning fun.  In fact, I’m pretty sure my husband is a bigger fan of the Legos and Erector Set than my 5 year old.

After-School Activities Super Activities for Super Kids Uncategorized

Finding the Perfect Activities for a 5-Year-Old

Is your little one restless? One mom shares her tips for finding affordable, practical activities for a 5-year-old.

by Kristine Munroe

child with sandy hands

Find Classes, Workshops & Camps for 5-Year-Olds Near You >>

5-Year-Olds Have Opinions

I’m not a homebody. As soon as I could find activities for my son, Isaac, I signed us up. It started off as new mom/new baby groups before Isaac could even sit up. Then we graduated to mommy and me playgroups. And after he grew more active, we both loved Gymboree. Living in New England, I particularly grew desperate for classes where he could get some exercise during the winter months. So, I would just pick whatever suited our schedule and sounded fun to me. Easy enough!

But sometime after Isaac turned 2, he started getting opinionated. I signed him up for Soccer Tots through our local community education department. At the time, I thought the idea of 2-year-olds playing soccer sounded adorable. And, yes, it was adorable, but getting my stubborn little Isaac to participate was a challenge week after week. His favorite part was the snack break midway through the class. It wound up being really exhausting just trying to convince him to kick the ball into the goal.

toddlers playing soccer

After that, I realized that as Isaac left the baby/toddler stage, he was starting to develop his own interests. It was time to find activities that my soon-to-be 5-year-old would be enthusiastic about. I couldn’t necessarily just pick whatever I thought sounded cool anymore. Activities are supposed to be enriching, but above all, they should be fun — especially at the preschool age. The last thing I wanted was to drag him to weekly classes that he didn’t like. It would just be a waste of time, money, and the stress would suck the fun right out for both of us.

Trial Classes

Soon I discovered that many activities will allow you to do a trial class to see what it’s like. That was how we got hooked on Music Together classes when he was 3. Those classes were lots of fun. We’ve tried various trial classes here and there to see what would work. If we find something that Isaac loves, we usually will enroll for a few sessions.

Advice From Friends

We love to get advice from our friends, too.  Word of mouth is an awesome way to find out which classes are fun.  Ask around!

Looking for Deals

Price is also a big factor. Like many families these days, we’re on a budget. Activities can get expensive, but there are still plenty of options for reasonably priced activities or great discounts. I love to scour Groupon to see what deals I can find. I’ve seen Groupon deals for Gymboree classes, music classes, sports, ice skating lessons, ski lessons, and more. I’ve definitely taken advantage of these discounts. Often there are great sale prices, sibling discounts, and multiple session discounts on ActivityHero, too.

Community Rec Centers

Community recreation departments are other inexpensive places to find fun activities. From art to sports, they’re usually easy on the pocket book.  This past fall, we participated in a super fun farming class through a neighboring city’s community education department. The kids got to plant and harvest all sorts of herbs and hardy plants.


Mommy’s Priorities

I like to keep practicality in mind as well. It was important to me that Isaac takes swimming lessons because of safety issues. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with him going off to summer camp or even playing alongside the Charles River without him knowing how to swim. And since we live in New England, I’d like him to learn a winter sport — ice skating, snowboarding, skiing, or something — because it seems like everyone here knows how to do a winter sport except for me.

Look For Activities With Added Value

I try to look for activities with certain perks beyond the specific classes. Places like Gymboree and My Gym also offer open play times, which is an absolute lifesaver in a Boston winter. The open play times give you and your kid an opportunity for unstructured play in a safe, indoor environment, and it’s covered by the cost of your monthly membership.

We also joined our local YMCA. I use it as a gym, plus it deeply discounts activities. So far we’ve done t-ball and swimming there. Many YMCAs are not just for sports; you can find lots of classes ranging from arts to music to cooking. Our family membership is worth its weight in gold.  You can also use it for discounted prices on after school programs, summer camps, and camps for school vacation weeks.

As for Isaac? Right now we’re about to head out the door for his final swim class of the year at our local YMCA. These swim lessons have been one of his favorite activities and he can’t wait to start up again next year.

Find Classes, Workshops & Camps for 5-Year-Olds Near You >>

Swim Lessons Around the U.S.