Oh, how I love the age of Kindergarten and first grade. Five and six-year-olds become wildly independent and can carry on conversations that have me feeling like I’m chatting with a friend. Kids this age may attend an extended school day, and it is so super important they come home to some play. Now is our chance to hold on to the unstructured downtime. Play is lifelong! Here are the best toys for five and six-year-olds to keep the play going long after attending grade school.
I organized my favorite toys into four categories:
- Board games kids adore
- Art supplies and creative play
- STEM toys for five and six-year-olds
- Outdoor toys for five and six-year-olds
Big Kids Need Time to Play
I cannot say it enough. After a long school day, our children must come home and play. Let’s remind our big kids that what they touch can quickly become more creative and involve movement.
We need our six-year-olds to continue the momentum from the type of play we have worked so hard to maintain during the early years.
We must remind our elementary children that they can learn through play and that home is safe to explore new ideas. Kindergarten is the new first grade, and don’t get me started what first looks like. However, from all our research, we know that play is the most powerful way to grasp a new idea or extend an existing one. So, we must offer downtime for unstructured play at home.
Let’s get these big kids some toys they can look forward to coming home after school!
Related: Want to inspire more play at home? These BIG KID activity cards are great!
What toys do six-year-olds like?
Once children hit kindergarten and first grade, their love for learning can soar or feel deflated by the high expectations.
Good, thoughtful toys for big kids remind children that they are intelligent, kind, and funny. The best toys offer a safe space to be themselves without social pressure.
When choosing a toy, we are looking for toys that remind children that being creative allows them to feel safe to learn more.
Let’s find toys without strict boundaries on what button to press to make it go.
Older kids must continue the momentum of open-ended play to develop the habits they need to thrive and enjoy being at home.
TOYS FOR KIDS
After attending the NYToy Fair, I updated this list with the best toys for kids in 2023-2024. Open-ended toys your child will grow with.
What is a good toy for a six-year-old?
Remember that putting ages on toys can sometimes put us in a box. Good toys for six-year-olds allow them to feel comfortable connecting to prior knowledge and encourage curiosity. A good toy for any age matches their love of play. This may mean the arts, outdoor play, loose parts, pretend play, or rough and tumble play.
You know your child best. If they are ready for it, go for it!
Toys are important because they:
- Allow a child to create.
- Allow a child to be mindful of the team around them.
- Assist with self-control and focus.
- Encourage building, designing, and early engineering skills.
- Encourage cooperation.
- Expand a child’s vocabulary.
- Help a child retell a story and express emotional needs.
- Soothe anxiety and tension.
Do you see? You cannot get that deep with a worksheet or a video game (both have another place). We know this. To deepen our children’s understanding of life, we must allow them to use open-ended, hands-on toys.
We can do this with well-thought-out toys and time to play.
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Board games kids adore
Have you played Monopoly with your kids? Super Mario Monopoly was our introduction to Monopoly, and I am so happy we started here. It simplified the parts and pieces needed to advance players and purchase properties with only two coins. My boys also love the Mario Brothers, so this game was a winner as soon as they unwrapped it!
Who knew you could play Tetris without a screen?! This game checks almost every box – it’s creative, has many problems to be solved, can be played together or solo, and as a parent of a certain age, the nostalgia factor makes me smile. You can combine these with additional sets or blocks for a new experience.
Another winner was suggested to us by a friend! Roll the dice and plug in the wooden circles. The goal is to fill in the missing spaces using the different puzzle pieces. Players can play this game alone or challenge a friend to see who can complete the puzzle in time. Genius Square is a fantastic board game for elementary-aged children and beyond.
A friend suggested this board game for my six and seven-year-olds to play. It has inspired lots of strategic thinking! The goal is to complete train routes by gathering cards of coordinating colors. We like to play this game before bedtime and get everyone involved. If you want a new board game for elementary-aged children, THIS IS IT!
It’s a fast-paced game for kids that follows a super fun sequence. Flip your card as you repeat the pattern. If it matches, be the first to slap the pile! It is so simple, yet so fun. We love it!
Art supplies and creative play
These paints make a list for several age groups because the benefits of playing with colors and creating from scratch never end. This set is a perennial favorite because it’s easy to store, has just the right color variety, and is a quality product at a friendly price.
If you’re familiar with my blog, all three boys love their Vtech point-and-shoot cameras. We don’t leave home without them. Now that my oldest is moving towards upper elementary school, he has graduated from this super fun, creative Creator Cam and can make short movies! The great thing about this toy is he can start with an effortless creation but learn the elements of movie-making and use the more advanced features as he discovers them. Get ready for your close-up!
This is an audio player without the noise of YouTube or the internet. Use the Yoto to listen to your child’s favorite podcasts, songs, and stories. The face also shows a digital clock and has an alarm clock. My six-year-old has NOT put this down.
This Rainbow Loom was a HUGE hit with my neighborhood this summer. The kids would take the kit to the pool and design bracelets between jumping in. It makes a great kit for something to do when siblings are at practices and need something to do while they wait.
Like the Rainbow Loom, this bead lit will encourage creating patterns, counting, engineering, and problem-solving – and you can find opportunities for all of it in a bead kit. Gift this early in the holiday season and give your big kid the tools to make gifts for their friends and loved ones!
This is similar to air-dry clay, but more for a child focusing on small details when creating. Strengthen their hand muscles and enjoy time at home. This clay kit comes in 11 colors.
Like the bead kit, this material has endless possibilities for creating, problem-solving, and fun. Small hands can easily manipulate it out of the container, but you could also add some simple design tools – even cast-off playdough tools would work fine. The creation takes about three days to dry on your counter, and then kids can paint them. This is another excellent way for kids to make unique holiday gifts or even their toys and decorations!
I used to BEG for Shrinky Dinks, and my mom would say, “but…what do you DO with them?” As a parent now, I get it. They are super fun to create, but then…you have shrunken-colored creations all over. Here is the solution! All the fun of Shrinky Dinks that you then make into jewelry, barrettes, or even keychains! It’s so fun for kids to make their wearable art, encouraging them to express themselves and experiment with color and style.
I learned more about this one-string guitar from attending the New York Toy Fair. This guitar was designed by Brian Calhoun, who makes guitars for big-name singers. He wanted to build a guitar for kids that was more manageable to understand and feel successful in sticking with the instrument.
STEM toys for six-year-olds
If you are looking for a screen-free coding toy for your child, Botley 2.0 is it. With a few coding skills using lights and music, you can transform Botley into a train, police car, and more!
Another screen-free coding toy is Space Rover. I played with this at the New York Toy Fair and learned how children create a path for the rover by coding with the controls. Children watch as the rover follows the path they coded.
Warning: if you are anything like me, your kid is about to know much more about electricity than you ever wanted. As easy to use as LEGOs, this is a new world of experiments that range from simple to complex and encourage critical thinking at every turn.
This set is similar to the above, with more lights and whistles. Another fun starter set! Another hit for tech-loving six-year-olds and older.
Like I said – we love Mario around here, and I am all for a cool toy that takes the fun off the screen in an engaging way. This LEGO set lets you create an actual, working Super Mario level! It’s challenging enough for an early to mid-elementary schooler to enjoy on their own, but so much fun that I’m excited to play with them.
This hedgehog is a go-to gift for older kids. It’s like a chia pet but cuter, cooler, and faster. Kids make a simple mixture with water and the included solution, and a day later, crystals magically appear, and then your big kid has an adorable decor item for their room. Listed for ages 10-12, please judge what is best for your child.
Control your robot with gestures and movements. We have this robot and it is fun for all my boys to play around with.
My six-year-old’s dream came true with this Geodes kit. He recently told me it was his favorite gift from last year. Children break open the rocks to see the crystals inside. Each kit has a variety of colors. Listed for ages 8+, please judge what is best for your child.
Outdoor toys for six-year-olds
These are my son’s favorites! He brings them to soccer practice and spends countless amounts of time outside shooting the copters in the sky. Add these for your child who needs a little inspiration for outdoor play.
A variation to the Rocket Copters is a traditional slingshot. Makes a fun stocking stuffer your child can use over the holiday break.
Have a child that enjoys bubbles? This is the gift for them! This kit makes big and colorful giant bubbles. It’s an excellent toy for six-year-olds and older.
As the boys grow older, their energy level increases. (how could that be?) This climbing dome is a great way to build strength and coordination or just sit and chat with friends in the backyard.
These kickboards now fold! Easy to store and LED lights on the wheels. Great for ages 5-12.
This Moon Ball is a lot of fun to play with! It bounces super high, and kids love testing its limits. This makes a fun gift that gives kids something to do after unwrapping. (wink, wink)
Every bike needs a bell. Your child’s bike has a bell that lets others know they are biking and coming up close. Makes a great stocking stuffer for the holidays!
Need a new bike helmet? We love the way the Giro youth bike helmet fits. This bike helmet has MIPS. MIPS Brain Protection System is integrated with the Roc Loc Sport Fit System for an added measure of protection in certain impacts, plus market-leading fit and comfort.
One more bike essential is a bike cup holder. My boys like to bike to their friends with a water bottle. Now they can bike more safely with both hands on the handlebars.
Sounds simple, but my boys love the tally counter. I included a six-pack, so you have a gift for your child and the next birthday party you attend! These make great toys for six-year-olds (and older).
What kid sees a bow and arrow and DOESN’T want to try it?! This Faux Bow reduces the injury potential and maximizes the fun, making it a budget-friendly way to try archery. It shoots pretty far once you get the hang of it, and we have had a lot of fun creating silly, safe targets out of leftover cardboard and craft supplies.
Big kids are often over the swing sets and playhouses we were so excited to get when they were preschoolers, but that doesn’t mean the backyard adventures have to end. Let them be ninjas! This line is completely customizable and expandable to have a couple of elements or a whole backyard American Ninja Warrior episode.
We might be a digital society now, but walkie-talkies will ALWAYS be awesome. Age up a game of hiding and seek, take them camping or hiking, or come up with a whole secret language – there are so many ways to have fun with these. I like this brand because they can take a beating, which is a huge plus, even for older kids.
Power a rocket by jumping up and down? Yes, please. One kid can spend hours practicing this independently and then challenge all of their siblings and friends. By trying different combinations of running and jumping, kids can problem-solve and exercise themselves to greatness right in their backyard.
Step 1: Buy kids a wheelbarrow. Step 2: Never unload groceries from the car again! These have many uses, and it’s fun to figure out what they can and can’t carry and how to maneuver them, depending on the load. Get a couple and have real wheelbarrow races!
By the time my oldest was in elementary school, all he wanted to do on the swings was stand up, so I figured, why not just go with it? This swing is such good quality, sturdy enough for a person up to 200 lbs to try, and engages almost every muscle in the body. I love that it extends the life of backyard swinging – and it’s okay for sitting on it and standing so that younger kids can get in on the fun, too.
This game is like the next generation of corn hole – plus, it’s waterproof and portable. It’s so much fun for everyday play and pool parties, the beach, the park; you name it. You can play it like a bean bag toss, or water polo, or even hacky-sack, and it’s just as fun for one person as for 10. This game is an excellent gift for the whole family!
More Toys for Kids:
Frequently Asked Questions
Think about what your child enjoys doing. Rocket Copters are great for a child that loves being outside. Watercolor paints are fun for an artistic child. STEM learners love programmable robots.
Engage large muscles with the ninja course, running with the walkie-talkies, bike riding, and faux bows. Playing indoors with a family board game such as Monopoly and Snap Circuits is fun.
YES! Unstructured play and time to be bored are vital to child development. Dedicate a time each day to unstructured free play where your child takes the lead. Doing so allows children to work through thoughts, events in the day, and emotions.