Finding gifts for preschoolers can be challenging. They are more independent and are developing fascinations somewhat beyond our control. However, there are many options that include a range of interests while also being educational. While licensed character items appear at the end of this list, a majority of what you will find are quality toys that provide learning benefits and make great gifts for preschoolers.
To help parents or gift givers understand the benefits of each toy listed, you will see the developmental skills they promote in italics under the pictures and descriptions.
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I. Love. This. Toy. Okay, so it does all the things most educational toys do in this age category, but it also dives into global awareness as it introduces continents and the different animals, foods, and landmarks found there. Additionally, it includes a boarding pass, passport with stickers and a dry erase marker for activities and play. Plus, it has storage for those things and more!
Basic Learning Concepts (alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes), Global Awareness, Early Writing Skills, Imaginative Play, Social/Emotional Skills
Lilly Loves to play in the snow! This sweet doll comes with removable ear muffs and boots so she can be comfortable inside as well. When it is time to to build a snow bear, though, little ones can help her put on her cold weather gear and use the moldable snow and bear mold to have some fun!
Imaginative Play, Social/Emotional Skills
As preschoolers begin to develop writing skills, a toy that can assist with that is ideal. This not only provides a reusable surface for ongoing practice, but it also demonstrates the correct way to form letters on the screen. It can be used to practice name writing and has many built in games to help strengthen fine motor skills. This also comes with a number of stencils easily stored in the back.
Creativity, Early Writing Skills, Basic Learning Concepts, Fine Motor Skills, Music Awareness
This is the first Play Doh toy that has ever been on a gift list and honestly, I’m not even sure why. I gift Play Doh every year! When I saw this new garbage truck, though, I had to add it. Not only can you create garbage from the molds along the truck, but the truck can be played with by itself – sans Doh! The arms lift up the can and really dump it into the back. It does comes with some garbage-scented compound (yes, really), but the smell is akin to stinky cheese. If you have an aversion to that, you may just want to toss it, but most kids love the realistic gross aspect.
Creativity, Imaginative Play, Fine Motor Skills, Sense of Community
On its face, this set doesn’t look like much more than a game, but this makes a great open-ended toy. While you could use it as a game to work on math and color skills, my children are often using them with other toys in make believe play. We’ve gone pretend camping, cooked them up, and fed them to stuffed cats and penguins at the zoo. Plus, the game is pretty fun too!
Hand/Eye Coordination, Early Math Skills, Matching Skills, Fine Motor Skills, Problem Solving Skills, Imaginative Play, Social/Emotional Skills
Developed to promote self-confidence in multi-racial girls, Positively Perfect dolls are just that. They are made in a variety of skin tones and hair textures so little girls can have a doll that looks just like them – Beautiful. There are many Positively Perfect dolls available at Walmart, so you can find the perfect mini for your mini.
Imaginative Play, Social/Emotional Skills, Self-Awareness, Builds Confidence
I can certainly understand if this one gets skipped over as a gift. However, preschoolers find musical instruments fascinating and fun. These are not your usual noise makers. This set includes a tunable ukulele, tambourine, egg shaker, castanet, and rainmaker which provide varying sounds. Also, with Hape, you know you are getting quality wooden pieces.
Music Awareness, Fine Motor Skills, Hand/Eye Coordination, Creativity, Cause & Effect
Green Toys makes awesome toys from 100% recycled material here in the USA. This car carrier is sturdy and super functional and will provide hours of play. It comes with 3 cars that store onboard. The carrier, itself, has a pull out ramp and a gate ramp that snaps closed. The trailer also separates from the cab, providing more realistic play. Personally, I love playing with this one as much as the kids!
Imaginative Play, Fine/Gross Motor
Peaceable Kingdom makes a number of educational, developmentally appropriate games. Friends & Neighbors is designed to help children identify empathetic emotions and discover ways to help people within our communities. Kindness begins at home and this helps to minimize the discomfort that is sometimes associated with discussing feelings.
This would make a great gift for preschoolers as they starting to become less egocentric and more aware of the world around them.
Cooperative Play, Social/Emotional Skills, Problem Solving Skills, Builds Confidence
Known for their technology, VTech takes the classic doctor’s kit to the next level. Not only does this set include a coat and tools to care for patients, but it also has a state-of-the-art tablet that helps children identify parts of the body, symptoms, and how to treat them. As a bonus, it all stores in a convenient medical bag! The perfect gift for preschoolers who are budding nurses or doctors!
Imaginative Play, Body Awareness, Caring for others, Social/Emotional Skills, Cause & Effect
Need an idea for an active preschooler who needs to be able to burn off some energy indoors? Try this trampoline! The safety bar helps children become steady when starting out and not lose control when they become over confident. We keep ours in the playroom and I have not met one kid who didn’t take a turn jumping on it. Which is just fine with me because it keeps them from jumping on the furniture!
Gross Motor, Spatial Skills
Hooray for mess free! This set gives a few options for creativity without all the worry and clean up. Preschoolers will enjoying coloring the included pages, using the stickers, and watching the magic of the stampers. This would make a great gift before a trip because it travels well and won’t make a mess in the car or on the plane.
Art Awareness, Creativity, Promotes Curiosity, Cause & Effect
Preschoolers are starting to move beyond simple wooden puzzles and try to take on jigsaw puzzles. However, the small pieces can make it frustrating for beginners. Floor puzzles use much larger pieces that are easy to handle and make identifying connecting pieces simpler. Melissa & Doug have a variety to choose from depending on the interests of the preschooler you are buying for.
Fine Motor Skills, Spatial Skills, Problem Solving Skills, Builds Confidence
When your preschooler is ready to move on from their toddler kitchen, consider gifting this one from KidKraft. It comes with window boxes to plant wooden carrots and onions, pick them, and even cut them with the included wood knife and cutting board. Cook them up in the stainless steel pot and pan set and wash it all down with a glass of (faux) ice water from the working ice maker! This kitchen will provide many hours of fun!
Imaginative Play, Creativity, Sustainability, Problem Solving Skills, Hand/Eye Coordination, Social/Emotional Skills
If you want to go a different direction than a standard kitchen, check out the Drive Thru Diner by Little Tikes. My kids have spent a lot of time in the drive thru line, especially over the last couple of years. Now they can roll up, place an order, and receive their meal through an actual drive up window! Or they can imagine themselves as a cook, server, order taker, or anything else they want to be. The wooden construction will last and the 40+ accessories will make it ready to play as soon as it’s built.
Imaginative play, Social/Emotional Skills, Cooperative Play
Another big gift for this age is a tricycle. Radio Flyer is a trusted name in outdoor gear for kids and they have considered it all with this trike. It has a wide, adjustable seat to grow with your child. The cargo compartment in the back will surely be filled with all the treasures they find along their rides. Also available in pink.
Gross Motor, Hand/Eye Coordination, Imaginative Play, Builds Confidence
An alternative tricycle is this Harley version by FIsher Price. With storage available under the seat, little riders can take along their favorite things. If a Harley isn’t your thing, this trike is also available in Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Blaze and the Monster Machines.
Gross Motor, Hand/Eye Coordination, Imaginative Play, Builds Confidence
If your preschooler is ready to go beyond the Mega Bloks when it comes to building, try gifting Magformers. The flat, magnetic shapes can be connected together to make tons of 3D shapes, buildings, and structures. There are plenty of add on kits, including houses with people and pets, so you can continue to gift them and build a collection. They make great gifts for preschoolers and beyond.
Fine Motor Skills, Spatial Skills, Imaginative Play, Hand/Eye Coordination, Creativity, STEM, Problem Solving
A great STEM toy is one like this truck from Educational Insights. Not only can children bolt on pieces of the fire truck and the little people, but they can also use the toy they just constructed to play with! This particular set comes with the drill, firetruck, 13 spots to drill, 3 characters, 8 water and fire toppers, and more. The box can also be used as a backdrop in play.
Creativity, Imaginative Play, STEM, Spatial Skills, Fine Motor Skills, Hand/Eye Coordination
Back in the day, I had a Doodle Bear. It was so cool to be able to draw and color on a stuffed animal, wash it, and do it all over again. I love that Crayola came out with their own version in various animals that are great for both boys and girls. In addition to the unicorn, they are available in kitty, puppy, and llama.
Creativity, Art Awareness, Imaginative Play
Choo! Choo! This wooden train track set comes with everything you need for an adventure including tracks, 3-car train, several buildings, trees, vehicles, and people, as well as a bucket to store it all in and a mountain top lid! The track is compatible with other trains as well in case your preschooler has already started their collection. Let their imaginations run wild with this one!
Imaginative Play, Fine Motor Skills, Hand/Eye Coordination, Cause & Effect, Social/Emotional Skills, Language/Literacy Skills
Melissa & Doug Wooden Town Play Set and Vehicles
Whether you want to add to the train bucket, a block area, or just free play, this set of buildings, trees, and signs will create the perfect town. They are made from solid wood and stand up well to all sorts of play. Add in a set of the town vehicles to make the village come to life! They are also compatible to most wooden tracks, so they can work with what your child may already own. The imaginative play that can come from these two sets makes them great gifts for preschoolers.
Imaginative Play, Sense of Community, Social/Emotional Skills, Hand/Eye Coordination
Part of the Rescue Tails collection, this little pup comes with adoption papers, playhouse, and removable reindeer accessories. This makes a sweet and cuddly gift for preschoolers that they can enjoy for the holidays and beyond.
Fine Motor Skills, Imaginative Play, Social/Emotional Skills
Character Gifts for Preschoolers
Character items are not usually something I include on a recommended toy list because honestly, most don’t have any educational value. Instead, they rely on the novelty of the program they appear on.
However, there are some television shows that have grown in popularity over the last few years and children love playing along with them. Luckily, developers seem to be taking note the importance of providing toys that children can learn from instead of just another thing.
Below are popular character themed toys that I feel provide quality, educational content that preschoolers would love to unwrap on a special day.
This is no ordinary backpack! Inside, little ones can find special gear to help them on their missions with the Paw Patrol. There is a Pup Pad with four double sided cards that children can use to jump start their adventures. A special activity guide can be read using the secret spy tools. And of course pup treats because they’re all good pups!
Imaginative Play, Critical Thinking Skills, Problem Solving, Social Emotional Skills, Sense of Community, Language Development, Leadership Skills
Loaded with songs, games, and phrases from the show, children will love playing along with Bluey. It encourages littles to move and listen in addition to following rules of a game. Let’s be real, preschoolers are definitely more apt to listen to Bluey than their parents.
Cooperative Play, Listening Skills, Gross Motor Skills, Social/Emotional Skills, Music Awareness
The Bluey Playhouse from last year is back and better than ever! Now with an extra level of play, lights, sounds, and accessories preschoolers can immerse themselves into Bingo and Bluey’s world. Use the Magic Xylophone to freeze family or activate dancemode by attaching characters to the dance floor. Children will love reenacting their favorite scenes and making up new ones with this house!
Creativity, Imaginative Play, Music Awareness, Social/Emotional Skills
I hope you were able to find something from this list for the preschooler on your gift list!
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