I spend the whole year thinking about and purchasing the perfect gifts, big and small, for my little family. If you’re stuck thinking beyond the standard chocolate and candy fare, or want to go a different route, I bring you a list of mostly gender-neutral stocking stuffers your 5 year old will love! These are items already stored away for my 5-year old boy, Aiden!
I am one of those people who shops for Christmas all year long. I have drawers and bins stashed around the house filled with gifts and stocking stuffers for everyone. I keep track of all my ideas and purchases in an app, so I know both what I have and what I think would be good to purchase. This year I’ve filtered out my best ideas and bring you the TOP GIFTS FOR A 5-YEAR OLD! Customize these items to girl or boy and you’re set for Christmas!
- Pencil Sharpener – You can never have enough of these, particularly ones that catch the shavings. My son loves to sharpen his pencils and pencil crayons, so this year I got him a special train-shaped one at an antique store, but any sharpener will do!
- Lego Minifigures are a great way to expand the play of your Lego set, plus it’s exciting to see what you’ll end up with!
- Pocket Etch-A-Sketch makes for a great car or restaurant toy. The larger Etch-A-Sketch is a classic toy, but I love mini items!!
- Cubebot brain teaser puzzle, mini is a recent find of mine from a local toy store. My son was enamoured with the little cube that transforms to a robot and it comes in a variety of colours
- A Calendar is great for your child’s room or the fridge. Children love to know when special events or days are coming up, plus it’s a great way to reinforce days of the week, months and reading skills.
- A travel size game like Qwirkle allows you to expand your gaming library without infringing on your storage space. Many travel-sized games are not actually more difficult to use, but offer the benefit of more compact and sturdy packaging (zipped pouches or tins). Qwirkle is a game I’ve wanted for a while!
- A wallet or coin purse is a lot of fun for your child, but also helps them learn how to manage their money. Whether they are spending their own money or you offer them a chance to pay for their own items (like a lunch or ice cream you would have usually paid for on their behalf), it’s a fun chance to learn!
- A kids magazine or chapter book like Flat Stanley, Geronimo Stilton or Magic Tree House. These are great introductory chapter books for parents to read or for early readers
- Lego Creator kits come in all sizes. The small ones like the train are great because they fit in the stocking, but can be used over and over creating the 3 different models. So much more open-ended than a single set would be!
I believe that you can give quality and useful gifts in a stocking without having to break the bank. You can find many quality art supplies at dollar stores, from stencils to glitter glue and pencil crayons, and even some games and books. If you avoid the poor quality dollar store toys and instead focus on items of use, you can create hours and days of fun for very little!
See also my Stocking Stuffers for a 4 Year Old, Stocking Stuffers for a 1 Year Old, Stocking Stuffers for a 2 Year Old and a Guys’ Guide to Stocking Stuffers for Her.
It’s that time again! With a 2-and-a-half-year-old now running around our house, we are looking for some quiet ways to tame those crazy moments. You know those moments where there is so much roughhousing that someone sprains his fingers. True story. Poor Aiden.
Anyway, we recently started revisiting early board games with Damien. When Aiden was about this age, he was beyond obsessed with the Curious George Discovery Beach game. Damien will play it a little, but is honestly more interested in throwing the cards around after just a couple of turns. He has no interest in spending an hour looking for every last object.
More to his taste are Perfection (honestly he’s so patient with it!), Uno Moo and Candyland. In all honesty, Candyland is the only game he will “play,” whereas the others he just wants to make up his own games with them. He wants to smash in the animals on Uno Moo, fill up the board on Perfection then turn it on and anxiously wait for the pop, or put together some of the other games such as putting together the hammock on Who Shook Hook, but never actually playing the game.
Damien is a much more “open ended” kid than Aiden was. Aiden has always loved the rigidity of rules and instructions. Whereas Damien will happily build his own sets using Hexacus or Mega Bloks, Aiden wants to follow the booklet or design a specific ‘thing’. Each way of thinking is so amazing, and I am endlessly fascinated with the variability in the development of our (and all) children.
At this age, I rarely enforce ‘rules’ and would rather Damien explore materials on his own terms (as long as he’s not destroying them). When we sit down to play a more formal game like Candyland, he seems fine following the rules and waiting for his turn, even if he doesn’t yet understand exactly how to play.
Aiden was about 26 months old when he first became obsessed with board games. His first board game was the Curious George Discovery Beach game that was all about finding shapes and colours hidden in the ‘sand’ and he played it all the time. Since that very first board game, we have been modifying game rules to suit his age. Now that Aiden is older, he still requests to play a board game almost every day, except now the games are much longer and more involved.
I have spent far too many hours researching board games for kids and more often than not find them too stupid or not well made or boring after a few plays. Even after my research, some of the games we’ve tried have been duds. The most successful games for Aiden (who is now 4.5) have been adult games, modified to suit his ability level. I find that adult games, being longer, are more easily suited to the enjoyment of the process of playing, rather than winning vs losing.
Aiden’s favourite game right now is Carcassonne. Thankfully, it’s my favourite game too, so I don’t mind playing it a few times a week. This was an extremely easy game to modify for Aiden, as it simply involved taking out whole sets of rules. For example, when we began we took out the cloister cards and didn’t build farms. Instead, we focused on cities and roads only. Since Aiden has experience playing dominoes, he found it very easy to understand this game – indeed, he won against me fair and square the first time (I rarely dumb down my abilities). I sometimes have to remind him “Do you want to claim that city / road?” if he forgets, but the placement of the cards has been very easy for him.
Aiden has only once been upset playing Carcassonne, because he “didn’t get to flip his card to 100”, not because he lost. He’s won a couple of times, but usually I win and he’s ok with that. We have already added in the cloisters, so only the farms are excluded from our games now.
Here is Aiden playing “the train game,” aka Ticket to Ride. This was not quite as straightforward to modify, since there are a lot of cards and rules involved. You can find ideas for modifications here, though we went further and removed the destination tickets, instead just having fun building the train segments.
The next came on my list is a children’s game specifically simplified from the adult version, Catan: Junior. Given that Aiden’s 5th birthday is coming up, we’re trying to be patient ;)
For Damien’s 1st birthday party, I decided I would try to include some homemade items in the goody bags to his friends. Having some experience doing crafts with Aiden and making both boys several toys and games inspired by Pinterest (check out my boards for the extent of my addiction), I felt confident I could come up with something! To add to the challenge, I wanted to make something that would be interesting for both the babies (+/- 1 year) as well as the older siblings (age 3+).
I decided to make a sensory / discovery bottle (closed bottles that contain pretty much anything that moves, shines or makes noise!) that made use of sand we already had (that went with our beach theme) and created an I Spy-like game inspired by our Curious George Discovery Beach game. And voila!
Treasure Discovery Bottle and Game
I filled the bottles with sand and a variety of items I picked up at the dollar store including gems, beach-themed confetti items, beads in bright colours, bells, other trinkets. I attempted to find a variety of items that could be spotted in the bottles but which came in a variety of colours.
The cards feature most items in the bottles, and you can be creative on your cards to expand the game:
- Name and draw the item
- Have “any item” cards that illustrate items that come in a variety of colours. In my game, I had fish in a variety of colours, so I wrote “any fish” and to win the card, the player had to find any colour
- Have “any colour” cards that could refer to multiple objects. An “any blue” card in my pile could refer to a blue bead or to a blue gem, for example
The game I supplied in my gift bags included about 15 cards, though you could easily expand this based on what you decide to put in your treasure bottles.
The more sand you add to the bottle, the harder it will be to find the items, so you could vary the challenge in the game. I left the bottles with only half sand, since that made the bottles lighter for the babies who only care about picking them up to roll or shake them!
Treasure Discovery Bottle Game Instructions:
- Select a card, youngest player first
- Shake the bottle, then look for the item. If you can’t see it, the next player takes a turn. If you can see it, keep the card in your pile and select a new card for your turn.
- Take turns, one shake per turn, until all items have been found
- The winner has the most found items