Check out the best toys for 5– to 8-year-olds. This open-ended list of toys is filled with hands-on, playful ways for big kids to have fun without having to rely on battery or screen operated fun. Enjoy this (largely) tech-free gift guide for kids.
The best toys for 5 year olds to 8 year olds
We cannot afford to undervalue toys – especially as our kids age.
There’s a shocking belief that as kids get older, toys should be more technology focused. This is simply not true. As kids age, toys do not need to focus on latest tech trends or pop culture fads to be interesting or have value.
Instead, toys for older kids can be used to foster interests and passions, or to introduce new skills, or to broaden their experiences.
We need to remember that even with big kids, we are still gatekeepers to the toys in our homes and we decide which toys get to stay (and which get the boot).
Toys have value. Toys are not just stuff. Toys are the toys children use in their play.
We do not need to shift to all electronics or fluffy fad toys as our kids age. As with everything, balance is key.
And the truth is: our big kids need play, hands-on play. Big kids need to still be in the driver’s seat of their play. Don’t let flashy, trendy, “of the moment” toys take over in these still developing years of childhood.
What toys do 5- to 8-year-olds need?
In my humblest opinion, there are two toy categories: trendy toys and timeless toys. I’m here to make a plea to focus more on timeless toys with kids.
“Trendy toys” often have short life span with kids: they may grab attention quick but typically sustain it. The child is likely to be over the toy in a few days or months. The toy is “of the moment”, flashy, and doesn’t grow with the child.
We don’t want that.
We want children to be able to continuously play and timeless toys tend to support that. These toys make for deeper play and deeper learning (and it’s more cost effective: you aren’t having to buy new toys to sustain play).
Please note: Some seemingly “flashy or trendy” toys will hold your child’s attention for years or are very necessary for their personal development. Toys are tools and we must be thoughtful about them is the message to leave this article with. If a toy is a tool for your child and their play, that toy has value.
How to build a foundation of timeless toys
Toy lists are like board game. A box of Monopoly says “for ages 8+.” This doesn’t mean only eight-year-olds like Monopoly.
Toy lists are the same.
Toys have a broad age range. For example: Toddlers are the first age group to enjoy wooden blocks. Nine year olds still play with them. We can’t limit wooden blocks only to toddlers – that’s simply the first age a child might start to enjoy them.
Reminder – Toys don’t have a gender
This list is gender neutral (as all toys are). Everything on this list is fantastic for both boys and girls, and equally loved and used by all.Don’t miss a chance for amazing learning just because of your preconceived notions.
Our girls deserve the chance to engineer just as much as our boys need the chance to create. Please do not gender toys.
Revealed – Best toys for 5- to 8-year-olds:
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Not sure which category this belongs in, so we’ll toss it in games. It’s awesome. If you have a budding magician at home, this has been a fantastic toy for our family and the tricks are fully doable for ages 5+. Absolutely have loved this!
Travel Watercolor Set
A very thoughtful gift for a budding artist, this travel watercolor set has been a 10/10 for my then-7 year old (suggested by an 11 year old friend). This is a wonderful gift for a child and opens up the possibility of easily taking art with them on the road.
Gifts to pair with a watercolor set
Dragons have taken over my kids and their friends. This set has been especially magical and lets each kid “be” one or two dragons in their play. These have been a huge hit for our 5 to 10 year old crowd.
Yep, she’s back. She’s amazing. She’s my 8 year olds favorite toy right now and the envy of all her friends. This has been as big a hit today as it was 30 years ago.
I gifted this to my daughter two years ago Christmas and it’s been such a hit, we bought a second one for the neighbor boy. This is a great set of “just your own” art supplies for big kids. Both kits are still in great condition and being used.
More art supplies big kids adore
The most played with new game from last year’s holidays. This labyrinth was/is fun for all of us. From age 5 to 65 (Grandparents too), everyone keeps trying their luck. It comes with 3 mazes of varying complexity.
This. Microscope. Kids often have a hard time seeing through the small eye piece of a traditional microscope. This takes away that variable AND everyone can see all at once.
Not ready for a full blown microscope (or don’t have the space)? I get it. We LOVE this pocket version (and so do all my kids ages). It comes to the park with us a lot.
Labyrinth Balance Board
Think balance board meets ball maze. This is a great toy for gross motor development – my kids often balance while I’m reading aloud.
Did you have a Spirograph? This is math and art and creating at its finest – I’m so glad they never stopped making these. My 7 year old loved this at Grandma’s house, she bought him his own set for our house.
Wooden Marble Run
This is the marble run we have – we love it. Marble runs are complicated to set up, but 5+ year olds rock at it. After struggling with plastic sets for years, we upgraded to this wooden one and never looked back.
We love these. They are a little creepy how they move and shimmy around, but once you get past that… it’s a great toy for kids who like building, robot-esque items, and mazes.
- This game is fun.
- The little beaded pieces are imaginary play heaven – this was the most played with game by my kindergarten and first graders.
I know you made these as a kid and remember what fun they were. Guess what? They’re still fun (and the only thing I use my iron for). This set comes color sorted but doesn’t have any pegboards so we got this Perler bead pegboard set.
Other “old school” art kits
I know robot toys are all the rage right now, and although it might break my “trendy” rule… have you met sweet Botley? This is a great intro to coding and robots, and really holds a big kid’s attention. My kids have loved playing with this.
Kids Pod Swing (indoor or outdoor)
These are sweetest, coolest – just a great little space for growing big kids. They can relax, grab a book, unwind, etc… all in the comfort of their own pod. Lots of different colors available.
Think “air hockey with magnets.” Klask is really fun for a broad age range (even younger siblings will be able to play). This has some fun twists that make it unexpectedly even more fantastic than you’d expect. It’s my favorite game to play with kids.
Paper Airplane Book/Kit
We have been deep into paper airplanes at our house for four years now, all thanks to this book. The step-by-step guide is easy for kids to follow (and for adults who are less than paper airplane proficient).
This is NOT a Kindle Fire or a tablet or a device to play games on. It’s just like an adult Kindle, but much less expensive. It’s a manageable way to let kids take lots of books with them on the go. My kids love their Kindles. They’ve been able to discover new books they would never have seen on a library shelf.
You can purchase a subscription to the Amazon digital library. You can also hook this up with your local library (check with your library system first).
Magnetic tiles are amazing for older children to build with. In fact, we didn’t get our first set until my oldest was 6. We have this Picasso brand (considerably cheaper and they are compatible with other brands) and it’s been fabulous.
Expansion packs for magnetic tiles
I Saw It First!
Awesome, awesome, awesome. There’s a few versions of this game (like an ocean or a jungle-themed one). Six triangles unfold into a large hexagon. Draw tokens from a box and be the first to “find it.” It’s hard!!! This game is double sided, the pieces rotate, so you’ll never remember where anything is…
BRIO Building Set
Fantastic building set. While it says 3+ on the box, that is NOT accurate. This is a minimum 5+ toy and it is AWESOME. This is significant building for kids – and expansion packs have motors to make their creations move or talk.
Expansion packs for the BRIO Building Set:
This clay is awesome – it’s nothing like the messy, gooey, traditional clay or play dough (which is a sensory tool vs this is a crafting supply). The texture is cool, what kids can make is cool, it’s a great little set. Highly recommend (all 3 of my kids love this).
By age 5 years old, all kids should have a box of LEGO bricks for building and creating. Nothing invites invention and engineering quite like a LEGO.
These become REALLY fun for kids around age 5 years old – and also around age 40. The distance on these is at least a mile (and so cool that it’s a 3 pack). These are obviously indoor or outdoor, but I see them outside with my kids most often.
This is a game for kids who love to build. Using their knowledge of weight and balance, suspend is great both as a game and as something fun to build (think sculpture art).
We have this, we love this, it’s shockingly good. I was skeptical when we got this (other kits have been lack luster). This has been great. The supplies are good, the directions are great, and my kids have learned a lot.
Gifts to pair with a chemistry kit
Yes, these are real tools specially sized for kids. You can decide if your child is ready for this, but there’s no substitute for learning to working with real tools. Tools are for all genders – all kids can build. All kids can create.
A 10/10. My 6-year-old asked for an entire year to buy this toy and finally got his wish at his birthday. I should have bought it sooner. It’s simple, engaging, challenging, and perfect for big kids. Brio made a good one here.
Let your child build circuits and systems with this amazing hands-on learning toy. Easy to follow directions let your child learn so much about electricity. This is a standard 6-8 year old birthday gift from me (regardless of gender).
Other snap circuit sets we love
This became my go-to big kid gift back in 2020. I couldn’t find many colors of this online – but I see them at all the local toy stores (which is where I buy them). This 14.5 inch size is perfect for growing big kids.
Light-Up Tracing Pad
A thin, lightweight board that helps kids trace their art. My older kids (7 and 9) really enjoy drawing with this. It’s been a big hit.
Yup. Stilts. These are height adjustable so they work for a broad age/height range. My 6 year old uses them and hands them off to my 40 year old husband. Now that’s a development span…. (all kidding aside, these have been a massive hit for our entire neighborhood).
Wooden Pattern Blocks
If your child has been to a classroom, they’ve played with pattern blocks before. Having them at home is the best – anyone else remember making giant flowers with these as a kid?
Other fun “school math” toys we own
IQ Twist Brain Teasers
This is such a great gift to give – especially for kids who likes to or often needs to play solo. It’s a great puzzles/brain teaser themed around dinosaurs.
Other single player logic games
Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza
The.Best.Game.Ever. This game is a fast paced cross between slap jack and memory. Your mind plays tricks on you in this game and kids are guaranteed to laugh through it. It’s a must-own.
Other big kid card games
- Monopoly Deal
- Slam: a card game version of Scrabble
- Fluxx: the rules for this game are always in…flux… get it?
More game? Don’t miss my list of the Best Board Games for Kids! There’s tons of big kid games on that list.
The skills needed to play Bop It! and the thrill of it all makes this such an addicting game – trust me, I’m as hooked as the kids are. This can be solo or with a partner.
Super Stadium Baseball Game
Oh em gee… this is so much fun. This took our family by storm this year: one person is the batter, the other is the pitcher. One launches little marbles and the other actually swings the bat. I wish I could better explain this game. I didn’t believe in it until we got it… now I’ll shout it from the mountains how fun this toy is.
Especially if you have a child in little leagues, this is a great gift.
I loved Simon as a kid but Mini Simon is even more fun. It’s a great extra gift or stocking stuffer. It says 8+, but it was a gift for my 4 year old who loved it as much as the bigger kids.
Do not let the word trike fool you. This thing spins 360 and is epic. Being able to ride it has become a right of big kid passage in our neighborhood. This beloved “trike” has been in play almost every day for seven years. It’s wild, big kid excitement and so cool.
Fox Tail Ball
This is a GREAT way to help kids learn to catch and throw in a fun and successful way. I highly suggest fox tails. Here’s a link to another set that’s a 6-pack if you need more than one: Lakeshore’s Soft and Safe Comet Balls.
Bow and Arrow
This is from a small business. It will need 1-2 weeks of lead time.
We love this bow and arrow. The design is far superior to others we’ve owned (the arrow goes through the bow helping kids be more successful). I’ve linked to the 18 inch size bow; the smaller size is 12 inches which this has been great for my 6 year old.
Gifts to pair with a bow and arrow:
A GREAT way to introduce paddle sports to kids – they can be really, really successful with this set up.
Frequently Asked Questions
Remember that kids learn through play so literally all toys are education and learning toys. Ironically, toys that call out their “learning” features often support far less learning than (for example) a set of wooden blocks. Terms like “educational” and “learning” are more of a marketing ploy than a legitimate category.
That’s personal to each family and the variables within the home (size, location, number of children, etc). If you are concerned your child has too many toys, audit your child’s play. A good indicator of too many toys is when it takes a long time for a child to “find their play.” Similar to having a hard time finding tools in a crowded kitchen, too many toys can be overwhelming and actually limiting to a child.
That’s personal to the family. Rather than follow any preset guideline, work within a budget and within what the child will find enjoyable to open and not overwhelming. I find preset guidelines for holidays limiting and prefer to use my gut rather than someone else’s poem.