Best Gifts for Preschoolers (A Holiday Gift Guide)

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10 Gift Ideas From an Experienced Early Childhood Teacher

If you’ve read my post about the importance of play in preschool, then you already know the benefits it can bring to your child’s overall development. For example, play can help enhance your child’s cognitive, physical, and social-emotional skills. I often get asked for my opinions on educational toys, games, and activities by my students’ parents or caregivers. They want to know what they can use at home to help promote their child’s learning. Therefore, I thought I’d share some of my recommendations with you. Here’s my list of gifts for preschoolers to help you get your holiday shopping done easily!

I’m sharing these toys because they provide meaningful play opportunities and serve multiple functions. I’ve organized them by different types of play, including motor, dramatic, and open-ended. These are 10 of my favorite toys:

Gifts for Preschoolers That Encourage Motor Play

Fine-Motor Play

These first few toy recommendations are great for fine-motor play. This type of play is important for developing the strength of the small muscles in our hands and wrists. It’s also great for hand-eye coordination. With that said, fine-motor play is critical for developing a young child’s independence. Strong fine-motor skills are necessary for everyday tasks like writing, eating, getting dressed, etc.

These two toys can help strengthen your child’s small hands. They can also allow them to practice color identification, sorting, and patterning. Additionally, your preschooler can develop early math skills like counting and one-to-one correspondence.

1. Learning Resources: Counting Owls Activity

Learning Resources 1-10 Counting Owls Activity Set, Counting & Sorting Toys, Math Game, Fine Motor Toy, 25 Piece Set, Ages 3+
  • SKILL DEVELOPMENT: Counting skills, Color Identification and Fine Motor Skills
  • One-to-one correspondence made Easy with printed numerals and owls to match
  • Includes 25 stacking owls, 1 branch, spinner, and 10 Activity Cards
  • The large size of each Owl is Perfect for whole hand or refined pincer grasp
  • GIVE THE GIFT OF LEARNING: Whether you’re shopping for holidays, birthdays, or just because, toys from Learning Resources help you discover new learning fun every time you give a gift! Ideal gift for Halloween, Christmas, Stocking Stuffers, Easter Baskets or even for Homeschool.

2. Melissa & Doug: Lacing Beads

Melissa & Doug Primary Lacing Beads - Educational Toy With 8 Wooden Beads and 2 Laces
  • 30 brightly colored wooden beads in a variety of shapes
  • 2 colorful laces included
  • Comes in wooden storage case
  • A fun way to encourage fine motor skills, color recognition, and sorting and sequencing skills
  • Makes a great gift for preschoolers, ages 3 to 6, for hands-on, screen-free play

Gross-Motor Play

Gross-motor play allows children to use their whole bodies. It is important in developing the strength in their arms, legs, and core. This, in turn, helps their bodies do essential activities like sitting, standing, running, walking, and climbing.

I use a tunnel, like this one, whenever my students need to get their “wiggles” out. I often incorporate the tunnel into academic learning activities so that they can have a break from sitting. For example, we turn a letter-matching game into a mini-obstacle course. I set up all of the lowercase letters on one side of the tunnel and the uppercase on the other. I then have the students pick up one letter at a time and carry it through the tunnel to find its match.

3. Melissa & Doug: Crawl Through Tunnel

Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Giddy Buggy Crawl-Through Tunnel - Indoor Outdoor Developmental Activity Toy Tunnel For Toddlers And Kids Ages 3+ (Multi color)
  • Giddy Buggy inspires imagination and lots of activity with this striped, nearly five-foot-long tunnel
  • 57.5 x 18 inches diameter when opened to play; folds flat to 18.5 x 22 x 3 inches to store
  • Perfect for indoor or outdoor use
  • Durable construction, water resistant, easy to clean fabric
  • Makes a great gift for preschoolers, ages 3 to 5, for hands-on, screen-free play

Gifts for Preschoolers that Encourage Dramatic Play

Dramatic play allows children to pretend. They can take on and act out various roles, i.e. mom, dad, chef, etc. Dramatic play is critical in enhancing a child’s imagination, independence, language skills, and social-emotional development. Therefore, these are my favorite items to encourage dramatic play.

4. Melissa & Doug: Pretend Chef’s Kitchen

Melissa & Doug Wooden Chef’s Pretend Play Toy Kitchen With “Ice” Cube Dispenser – Charcoal Gray - Kitchen Play Set For Toddlers And Kids Ages 3+
  • COMPLETE WOODEN PLAY KITCHEN: The Melissa & Doug Wooden Chef’s Pretend Play Toy Kitchen includes oven, stove, microwave, sink, refrigerator with working “ice” dispenser, and freezer
  • DURABLE PRETEND PLAY KITCHEN: The Melissa & Doug Chef’s Kitchen is a durable, wooden play kitchen with ample storage space for easy cleanup
  • INNOVATIVE TOY KITCHEN FOR KIDS: The innovative ice maker dispenses two included "ice” cubes, dials turn, microwave plate spins; includes grocery checklist, movable hooks, and doors that open and close
  • EASY TO ASSEMBLE: Our toy kitchen with “ice” cube dispenser is roomy enough for multiple kids to play at once. This kids play kitchen is ideal for kitchen accessory play sets, pretend food collections, and play pantry products
  • GREAT GIFT FOR AGES 3 AND UP: The Wooden Chef’s Pretend Play Toy Kitchen makes a great gift for kids ages 3 and up. Add the Melissa & Doug Kitchen Accessories Set to round out the pretend play cooking experience

This Melissa & Doug Pretend Kitchen is a high-ticket item. But, it is a product that your child can play with for years to come. There’s long-term value for its initial cost so it’s a gift that keeps on giving. My son has been playing with this pretend kitchen since he was able to stand independently. An item like this can encourage hours of endless dramatic play. Not to mention, it has a sleek and updated look! My husband and I joke that we wish our kitchen looked this good!

5. Learning Resources: Farmer’s Market Color Sorting Set

Learning Resources Farmer’s Market Color Sorting Set - 30 Pieces Age 18+ Months Toddler Learning Toys, Sorting Toys for Kids, Play Food,Easter Basket Stuffers​
  • Learning Toys for Toddlers: Develop toddler color recognition and sorting skills with this fun collection of realistic-looking play food for toddlers!
  • Explore New Foods: As they play fun games of pretend with these toddler sorting toys, kids can also expand their vocabularies by naming familiar favorites and learning new foods!
  • Preschool-Ready Skills: With the help of color-coordinated play food and easy-to-visualize bushel baskets, kids build school-ready sorting and toddler color learning skills!
  • Lots of Foods, Lots of Colors: The Farmer’s Market Color Sorting Set includes 25 pieces of play food in 5 different colors, as well as 5 baskets, an activity guide, and stickers for labeling!
  • Give the Gift of Learning: Whether you’re shopping for holidays, birthdays, or just because, toys from Learning Resources help you discover new learning fun every time you give a gift! Ideal gift for Halloween, Christmas, Stocking Stuffers, Easter Baskets Stuffers or even for Homeschool.

This fruit and vegetable set can be used to practice color knowledge, sorting skills, and object counting. Additionally, the food is dual-purpose because it can also be used for dramatic play in your child’s pretend kitchen.

6. Learning Resources: Alphabet Cookie Set

Learning Resources Goodie Games ABC Cookies - 4 Games in 1, Ages 3+ Toddler Learning Toys, ABC Games for Toddlers, Preschool Games, Alphabet Learning Games, Math for Preschoolers
  • DEVELOP: Teach the alphabet, letter recognition, beginning sounds, CVC word building, and early vocabulary
  • LETTERS GAME: Support language development and creative thinking with imaginative play
  • 42-PIECE SET: Set includes 42 plastic letter-shaped cookies, 45 double-sided cards, 2 spinners, plastic storage jar, and activity guide
  • 4 fun games in 1
  • GIVE THE GIFT OF LEARNING: Whether you’re shopping for holidays, birthdays, or just because, toys from Learning Resources help you discover new learning fun every time you give a gift! Ideal gift for Halloween, Christmas, Stocking Stuffers, Easter Baskets or even for Homeschool.

Another pretend food item is this ABC Cookie Set. You can add this to your child’s kitchen or pretend play area too. More importantly, this set can be used to practice your child’s early literacy skills, i.e. letter recognition, beginning sounds, sequencing, and vocabulary development.

Gifts for Preschoolers that Encourage Open-Ended Play

Open-ended play encourages a child’s creativity, imagination, independence, and problem-solving skills. Through this type of play, children can use the objects or materials in whichever way they choose. For example, a child can use the same set of blocks to build a castle or to make a robot. With open-ended play you want your child’s imagination to run wild. Here are some of my favorite open-ended toy recommendations.

7. PicassoTiles: Magnetic Building Tiles

These are a classroom favorite! Every school year my preschool students absolutely love to play with these magnetic tiles. There are many companies that offer similar products and they all range in price. But, I’m sharing this particular set here because they have great reviews and a reasonable price point.

PicassoTiles 100 Piece Set 100pcs Magnet Building Tiles Clear Magnetic 3D Blocks Construction Playboards, Creativity Beyond Imagination, Inspirational, Recreational, Educational Conventional
  • DREAM BIG & BUILD BIG - No limitations, scalable to build as big as desired by adding more pieces to create the master piece. PicassoTiles in colossal styles.
  • LEARNING BY PLAYING - Never too early to start developing kids creativity. Children can acquire strong sense of color, geometrical shapes including 3D forms numbers counts, magnetic polarities & architectural design at early age.
  • BONDING BY PLAYING - Entertaining for single or multiple parties and feel the sense of achievement together. Suitable for all ages (3+ and up) by one party of in groups a great way to spend quality time with the family and love ones.
  • LEARNING IS FUN - Encourage creativity which is the key factor to success in today's ever-changing environments. Fun and entertaining, perfect educational presents for school age children that will never go out of style.
  • CREATIVITY BEYOND IMAGINATION - Magnet Building Tiles Clear 3D color Magnetic Building Blocks Playboards for preschool, pretend play and more. Easy to construct and easy to put away for storage.

8. Melissa & Doug: Wooden Building Blocks

Every early childhood classroom offers blocks and every home should have a set too. They are versatile and keep children engaged. This set is especially great for young children because they are sturdy, yet lightweight. They also have rounded edges for safety. These allow children to practice shape and color knowledge as well.

Melissa & Doug Wooden Building Block Set - 200 Blocks in 4 Colors & 9 Shapes
  • 200-piece wooden block set
  • Assorted colors: red, yellow, blue, and green
  • 9 different shapes; this product ships in its own special e-commerce packaging intended to be easier to open and reduce waste
  • Sort them, stack them, knock them down!
  • Promotes hand-eye coordination, color and shape recognition, counting and sorting, and spatial relationships.

9. Melissa & Doug: Band in a Box

This band in a box set comes with a tambourine, cymbals, maracas, a clacker, tone blocks, and a triangle. Plus it all comes in a sturdy wooden storage crate. The benefits of musical instruments are endless in early childhood. Not only do they help your child to learn musical concepts like tempo, pitch, and rhythm. But, they also develop cognitive and social-emotional skills too.

Melissa & Doug Band-in-a-Box Clap! Clang! Tap! - 10-Piece Musical Instrument Set - Kids Musical Instruments, Wooden Percussion Instruments For Toddlers And Kids Ages 3+
  • DIVERSE 10-PIECE MUSICAL INSTRUMENT SET: The Melissa & Doug Band-in-a-Box Clap! Clang! Tap! is a 10-piece musical instrument set with a variety of instruments that get kids moving, grooving, and feeling the beat.
  • EXPOSES CHILDREN TO MULTIPLE TONES: Melissa & Doug musical instruments help children develop a musical ear. This set exposes your mini-musician to different tones, volumes, and rhythms.
  • HANDY WOODEN CRATE: To keep this band set for kids organized, we’ve included a durable wooden crate that has plenty of space to store each of the 10 instruments.
  • GREAT GIFT FOR KIDS 3 TO 6 YEARS: This set is an ideal gift for kids ages 3 to 6 years. Add a Melissa & Doug Wooden Beginner Recorder to round out the musical play experience and give kids an engaging option for screen-free fun.
  • “THE GOLD STANDARD IN CHILDHOOD PLAY”: For more than 30 years, Melissa & Doug has created beautifully designed imagination- and creativity-sparking products that NBC News called “the gold standard in early childhood play.”

10. Leyaoyao: LCD Drawing Board (2-Pack)

I recently purchased this LCD drawing board for my toddler. It’s great because there’s no mess or clean up and you save paper. It’s compact too. So, you can carry it in its case and bring it with you on the go. Additionally, they are offering a great deal on a 2-pack so you can have an extra one to share, or to leave one in the car and one at home! Finally, there’s a magnet on the back. Therefore, you can hang it on your fridge and let your child practice writing/drawing on a vertical surface which is great for crossing the midline, core strength, and future handwriting. For more information on the stages of writing, click here.

2 Pack LCD Writing Tablet Random Shipment Doodle Board for Kids with 2 Bag, Electronic Drawing Tablet Drawing Pads, LEYAOYAO Learning Toddler Toy - Gift for 3-6 Years Old Boy Girl
  • Color drawing boards: We firmly believe that LEYAOYAO can make thousands of children write "I ♥ Mom" on the drawing board, then we will succeed. LCD writing tablet adopts the latest liquid crystal pressure-sensitive technology, which produces lines of different thicknesses according to the strength of your push. When boys and girls write, draw, and graffiti, different colors will appear on the drawing tablets.
  • 2 pack sharing: 2 writing tablets (1 blue and 1 red random shipment). The electronic drawing tablet has one-key clear button, can be erased and written more than 100,000 times. magnetic learning toys for toddlers tablet.There is no mess of paper, crayons, markers or chalk at home.The key lock effectively prevents accidental clearing, and the screen can be erased when the writing pad unlocking.
  • Multi-Purpose: our doodle board suitable for kids drawing,graffiti,painting,draft ,note taking,learning and scrawl at home ,school or travel etc.
  • Lightweight and Portable: Made of high-quality plastic material, weighs only 280 grams, is easy to carry and travel in scheduler, briefcase or backpack, suitable for multiple occasions: living room, car,restaurant, plane,outdoor places. The writing tablet is waterproof and anti-fall, no need to worry about accidental dropping and liquid pouring on the screen.
  • Best gifts: the best learning toy for kid. It can be an educational toy for preschoolers. It can be a travel toy for long drives and road trips. A parent-pick gift for kids 3+ age girl and boy on Valentine's day, back to school, homeschool,Easter,birthday,Children's Day,Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and any occasions!

Wrap it Up (Get it? I Made A Pun About Gifts)

That “wraps” up my Gifts for Preschoolers Guide. I hope you find this list helpful. I also hope your child uses these items to engage in meaningful play.

Happy holidays and happy shopping!

Now talk to me. Share some of your favorite preschool toy recommendations in the comments below.


Ms. Sally

Comments 5

  1. Love these gift options. Thank you so much for sharing! I love the straw constructor STEM building toys from Amazon.

    1. Thank you Debbie! My little one loves his LCD boards! Big hit in our home. Plus the adults have one on the fridge to write down reminders and our grocery list! Haha.

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