If you have a preschooler (age 3-4) on your shopping list, then you’re sure to find a fun gift idea on this concise list of 17 gifts for preschoolers. These 17 gift ideas are intended to spark creativity, imaginative play and for them to have some serious fun. (Scroll right to the bottom to see what pediatricians believe you should look for in a toy.)
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17 Great Gifts for Preschoolers
1) Wooden Building Blocks set to create a city (Ages 3+)
How cute is this! This 115-piece wooden block set comes with the play mat so your little one can create a city with buildings such as a hospital, fire station and school. And it has little cars to zoom around too.
Great gift to let kids use their imagination and creativity (and improve fine motor skills).
- great building set for all preschoolers (girls and boys)
- painted with non-toxic paint
- blocks are made of wood
2) Play Doh Kitchen Creations Stamp n’ Top Pizza Playset
Play Doh is a fun way for kids to use their imagination and create playful “masterpieces.”
- The Kitchen Creations product line is very popular, and available on Amazon
- this pizza set comes with 5 Play Doh colors and the toy pizza oven
3) Play Kitchen Toy Stainless Steel Cookware set
This 23-piece play cookware set looks amazing! The Pots are made of stainless steel.
- doctors recommend kids play with “pretend” versions of real things (see more at bottom of the article)
You’ll need some great PLAY FOOD to go along with the play kitchen set…click here to see 11 Fun Play Food sets for Kids. (Opens in a new window.)
4) Pound Puppies “Newborn”
The classic stuffed dogs from the 80’s – The Pound Puppies – are back! And you can get it in two sizes. This is the “Newborn” size, so it is only about 8-inches long. The smaller size makes it easier for little ones to pack it around.
- comes in several different and color and color/spots combos
- for ages 3 and up (but I know a lot of grown-ups would appreciate one too!)
5) Build a Garden Toy Flower Building Playset
These are such a unique idea for a building set. Instead of building buildings or cars…your child can build a flower garden using the plastic pieces that push together.
Our daughter has a similar set and loves it (she is 3).
**If you want to check out more unique building sets, click here to check out our article featuring 7 unique building sets for kids. **
6) Classic Lego Set – 484 pieces (ages 4+)
It’s fun watching a preschooler create with these classic Lego blocks. They aren’t following a plan to build something…they’re just playing, designing and learning (usually about what gravity does to block towers).
Lego says these classic blocks – the smaller Lego pieces – are intended for ages 4 and up. And doctors say to buy gifts that will grow up with the kids…and lots of adults continue to play with Lego.
(If you have a 3 year old and you want bigger blocks, see below.)
7) Duplo Modular Playhouse Building Block Set
This Duplo building set is made by Lego and it features larger blocks that are suitable for children ages 2 and up.
Will your 3 or 4 year old preschooler have fun with this 129 piece set?
- great fun for girls and boys
8) Crazy Forts – Fort Building Kit (just add a bedsheet)
These are super fun! It is some sticks and balls that you push together to build your very own forts.
Then you just drape a sheet over top and you’ve got walls and a roof!
Interestingly on the box it says for ages 5 and up, but the product listing on Amazon says for ages 3 and up…and we have one for our daughter – aged 3 – and she loves it! But we have to help her a little bit building the forts but it is great family fun.
9) Singing Elsa Doll (sings “Into the Unknown”)
If your preschooler loves Frozen they’ll appreciate this singing Elsa doll.
When you turn her wrist she starts to sing “Into the Unknown.” (I can’t count the number of times our daughter has sang that song…usually while opening the patio door, leaning out and belting that song out with carefree abandon. It’s cute.)
(Note, this is one of the only toys on the list that “does something” but I’ve included it because your Frozen-loving preschooler will appreciate it.)
10) Colorful Ukulele to get them playing music
This little ukulele is a 21-inch model that is perfect for little ones to get started playing their own music. If they love singing, how about you get them playing too?
- music lets children express themselves, helps improves rhythm and fine motor control
- and it is cute!
- available in lots of different colors
11) Magnetic Tile Building Set (Ages 3+)
We also have a magnetic tile building set and they’re a lot of fun.
I don’t know if we have this exact brand, but I’ve chosen this brand – PicassoTiles – because it seems popular.
12) Advent Calendar – Thomas & Friends minis
This is more of a pre-Christmas gift, but if your preschooler likes Thomas the Train and Friends, you should check out this 24-train advent calendar.
Looks fun and every day before Christmas will be special.
13) Kid K’nex Building Set (116 pieces Amazon exclusive) [Ages 3+]
Here is a fun 116 piece K’Nex set for children 3 and up.
- They can let their imagination run wild
- get creative while building up their fine motor skills.
14) Melissa and Doug Grocery Store Play set
Melissa and Doug make high quality toys. This play Grocery Store will allow your preschooler to make believe and have some fun while stoking their creativity.
This is more costly than the other toys mentioned but they should get a few years of play from it before they outgrow it.
15) Melissa and Doug Animal Cards (three pack) [Ages 3+]
We got this for our daughter (3 years old) and she loves it. We only play “Go Fish” but she likes to play it a lot. And it has helped her learn numbers.
- fun way for parents or caregivers to interact and play with their preschooler
You can probably find it at your local toy store, but if not, here is a link to it on Amazon.
16) Balance Bike by Strider (Ages 18 months to 5 years)
A pedal-less balance bike like this one by Strider is a great way for your little one to get outside and get some exercise. Doctors consider physical activity and play an important part of a child’s development.
Most of us learned to pedal first on a tricycle then we had to learn to balance on two wheels. But these balance bikes turn that approach on its head. The child learns to balance first, then later they learn to pedal.
- our daughter loves her balance bike (allows her to easily keep up with us when out walking the trails)
17) Little Tikes Indoor/Outdoor Toy Basketball Set (Ages 18 months – 5 years)
Here is another great way to get your preschooler to engage in some fun physical play.
- This is a height-adjustable basketball hoop for little kids
- It can be kept indoors or outdoors.
What do Doctors say to get a Preschooler for Christmas?
The American Academy of Pediatrics released a report called “Selecting Appropriate Toys for Young Children in the Digital Era” by Healey, A et al. (Available here.) In this report they define their definition on what are the different types of “traditional” toys (not electronic toys).
What are the different types of toys according to the American Academy of Pediatrics?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) classifies traditional toys into 5 broad categories:
- Symbolic and/or pretend toys (things that are like “real” objects such as cars, dolls, play food)
- Fine motor, adaptive and/or manipulative (such as puzzles, blocks and shapes)
- Art (they mentioned coloring and clay)
- Language and/or concepts (for kids to learn language or concepts…toys like toy letters, card and board games)
- Gross motor and/or physical play (ride-on cars, wagons to pull, tricycles, etc…)
How can I use this knowledge to buy good toys for a Preschooler?
If you mix and match a toy or two from the different categories you’ll be providing your little preschooler with a variety of stimulating, fun toys that challenge and promote different developmental properties.
But don’t kids need electronic toys likes tablets and sound-making toys to properly develop?
Well, according to this report by the AAP, they say no. Here is a quote from their 2019 paper.
Concerning these types of toys they say, “…however, evidence suggests that core elements of such toys (eg, lights and sounds emanating from a robot) detract from social engagement that might otherwise take place through facial expressions, gestures, and vocalizations and that may be important for social development.” (Reference available here.)
In a report published by the “Zero to Three” organization, they make suggestions on buying toys for Toddlers. And yes, this is for toddlers which is generally defined as 1 year old up to 3 year old, but I think some of their take-aways can be extrapolated to preschoolers too.
For instance, they suggest to buy toys that:
- that have a variety of ways to be used and played with (e.g. a block set is very versatile)
- can grow with your child (e.g. they gave were dolls and action figures…and it’s not like the toys physically grow but as your child develops, they can play and interact with the toys in a different, more developed way)
- promote problem-solving or exploration (like nesting blocks or art materials)
- toys that spark imagination (like play food and dress-up clothes)
- toys that are play versions of “real things” (like play food, cooking sets, musical instruments)
- toys that promote physical activity (balls, bikes, play sports sets, and more)
There are more suggestions in their report as well, so I encourage you to check it out.
I think this one line from their report sums up most of the concepts very succinctly.
“The more a toy does, the less your child has to do.” (Rebecca Parlakian of Zero to Three. Reference)
That is why in this list of gift ideas for a preschooler I have included toys that fit the criteria: toys that encourage your child to use their imagination and don’t buzz or beep. (Mostly anyway…I guess the Singing Elsa doll is a little different but I still think your preschooler will enjoy her and she only sings when you twist her wrist.)
If you want to see more recommendations from health professional on age-appropriate toys, click here.
I hope you’ve found some inspiring gift ideas for preschoolers on this list.
Now which of these gift ideas will work for the preschooler in your life?
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Thank you and have a great Christmas and holidays.