As the tiny person in your life continues to grow and develop their skills, you might be wondering what kind of gift is appropriate for a 3-year-old. Not a baby anymore and moving towards pre-school, 3-year-olds are active, communicative, and headstrong. They are learning to engage more meaningfully with a wider variety of people as well as flex their cognitive skills. What kind of gifts will help them learn to co-exist in the larger community and exercise their creative spirit (and also help them burn energy because, YIKES)?
Rashelle Chase, an early childhood educator and KinderCare team member, explains that 3-year-olds “learn the best through play, and optimal learning happens when children are relaxed, engaged, and having fun.” Gifts for the 3-year-old in your life should help them build foundational skills, Chase says. She recommends gifts that are open-ended like blocks, play-dough, and dramatic play materials as well as cooperative toys for building social skills and trikes and bikes for working on gross motor skills.
With all these recommendations in mind, Scary Mommy has curated the best gifts and toys for the 3-year-old in your life.
Dramatic Play Materials
“Maybe it’s one of Dad’s old shirts or perhaps it’s a favorite costume, but dress up and make believe never go out of style. Combined with materials like play food and kitchens, dolls and stuffed animals, children can have a great time acting out endless scenarios,” Chase explains.
Let your little one do it all with this 20 piece adventure-filled fun food truck! With its two sides of interactive play, including a realistic car dashboard, a light-up grill, and a ‘magical’ cash register with 4 different menu cards kids can cook,’ ‘snack,’ and serve up role play fun.
Never too early to teach ’em the value of a dollar and with this play calculator cash register they will have blast learning with life-like cash and coins. Cha-Ching!
Kids will love making “house calls” and taking care of boo boos with this 11-piece doctor’s kit. Playing “check up” can also help children prepare and have no fear for their next doctor’s appointment.
Kids can learn their food groups and practice making and eating balanced nutritious meals with this wooden set.
In addition to the pretend play aspect of this cupcake set, kids can develop shape and color identification by matching the colorful icing to their bottoms.
Cooperative Toys and Board Games
“Cooperative toys and games help children develop social-emotional and executive function skills like taking turns, sharing, and cooperation,” says Chase. “Board games, memory games, and simple card games help children develop their working memory, math, and fine-motor skills.”
This matching game promotes visual recognition and memory skills. This perfect pre-school set with large, fun shaped pieces is perfect for little hands.
Winner of multiple awards including Parents’ Choice Award and Good Housekeeping Best Toy is perfect for 3-year-olds. Easy to understand and play, this game reinforces color learning, helps develop matching skills, strategic thinking, turn-taking, hand-eye coordination, and fine motor skills.
It’s the preschool version of the beloved Uno card game. Round up the cows, pigs, skunks, chicken, dogs, sheep and farmer characters by their type or colors. The best part is you get to yell “Uno moooooo” when you’re down to your last one.
Hello, neighbor! Kids visit the World of Make-Believe with their friend Daniel Tiger. Encourages interactive gameplay and builds social skill while reinforcing simple counting and coordinating.
Gross Motor Toys
“Trikes, balance bikes, scooters, and balls give children an opportunity to burn off energy while refining their gross motor skills by pedaling, balancing, negotiating space, as well as exercising hand-eye coordination,” Chase says.
This bike introduces young children to concepts of riding, allowing them to use a 2-wheeler while they’re still in diapers. It grows with your kid since the seat and handlebar heights adjust to accommodate ages 18 months to 5 years.
3 rides in one box that supports toddlers and small children as they master balance and coordination. Strong yet extremely lightweight gift is perfect for young children ages 12 months to 5 years.,
Oldie but goodie. Just as fun as you remember it.
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Check out Scary Mommy’s selection of toys here.