In this study, a simple approach was proposed to develop a new 5-node plate bending element, named DRMP. This element formulation is based on the Reissner-Mindlin plate theory and can be used for the analysis of both thin and thick plate. The new element formulation was then coded into FEAP to develop 15-DOF DRMP element for the finite element analysis of plate problems as well as 4-node quadrilateral DRMQ element with 12 DOF. The convergence and usage of DRMP element along with DRMQ element were investigated and the results of the both elements were then compared with the exact solution and the other elements available in the literature. The numerical studies demonstrated that the proposed elements, DRMQ and DRMP, passed the patch test and possessed fast convergence and high accuracy while DRMP element showed the invariability to the fifth node's position. Moreover, they were independent of the shear locking phenomenon for very thin plates. The presented results showed that 5-node DRMP element can be used along with 4-node quadrilateral DRMQ element where mesh refinement is necessary as a transition element. Copyright (c) 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.