At 3 years of age the world of children’s toys really enters another level as children begin exploring independently, socialising, initiating conversations and letting you know what their interests are. At this age children are beginning to learn things like their basic shapes, numbers and colours and starting to engage in more in-depth pretend and imaginative play.
With this in mind when shopping for the best toys and gifts for 3-year-old, any open ended toy that fosters pretend and imaginative play is sure to be a hit. But it’s a good idea to look out for educational toys that will start getting them ready for preschool, especially if they help practice numbers, letters and shapes. Of course, 3-year-olds still have the attention spans of toddlers, so you’ll also have to find something that’s fun and engaging first and foremost.
Board games / turn taking games for 3 year olds
Board games might not be the first thing that spring to mind when you are thinking about the best toys or gifts for a 3 year old but the truth is, there are loads of simple, fun, and interactive board games that are age-appropriate for toddlers and will help them develop important developmental skills at the same time! Here are some great board game ideas for three-year-olds (and the whole family):
While suitable for many 2-year-olds, a 3-year-old can play this game at its most advanced level and can also engage with it independently. “Bears in Pairs introduces young children to the concepts of turn-taking and following directions. It encourages sustained attention and cognitive skills, such as pattern recognition and matching.”
This easy-to-learn game is ideal for 3-year-olds because it involves no reading and no dice with numbers to count — instead, there’s a spinner to flick on a coloured wheel and matching acorns to pick up — yet it still fosters learning in a quick-paced setup, teaching about colours and improving fine motor control. Games like this also teach the skills of sharing, turn-taking, and handling frustration when losing.
The Classic: A Good Set of Blocks
The whopping 100 blocks in this set from Melissa & Doug can be used in a plethora of ways, from building tall 3-D structures to flat puzzlelike creations and anything in between. The nine different shapes included, made of smooth, vibrant wood, help kids lock in their knowledge of primary colours (plus green). As I can see with my own boys, playing with the blocks helps with the development of spatial awareness, fine-motor control, and planning and executing.
The picture of this toy does not do it justice! This four-legged hopper bouncy dragon brings so much joy to my sons that I had to include it on our gift guide for 3 year olds. And there are serious benefits to using it; bouncing engages almost every muscle group in a child’s body, especially the legs and core. It aids in vestibular development (spatial orientation and balance). In addition, rhythmic movement is organising for the nervous system, so it’s a great self-soothing and self-regulating mechanism. Also, it’s just plain fun! Great for rainy days at home when your 3 year old needs to burn off some energy!
Top Brain building toys for 3 year olds
Bugzzle is essentially a tangram—a puzzle comprised of geometric pieces that can be arranged in different shapes—for toddlers. An early STEM toy that provides a soft, visual introduction to fractions, Bugzzle includes one sturdy bug frame, 18 semicircular plastic puzzle pieces, and 40 cards with increasingly difficult patterns to recreate inside the bug. My 3-year-old loves remaking the patterns using the problem-solving skills and spatial reasoning Bugzzle is designed to foster.