Toy shopping for young children is quite overwhelming. There are so many choices and it is difficult to know just what toys are the best learning toys for preschool children.
I used to be a teacher and part of my studies included early childhood education and I taught preschool for two years in college. Then I worked with preschool-age children that were struggling while I was a special education teacher.
Yes, this gives me the inside scoop! Oh and I forgot to mention, I have two sweet, sticky-faced preschoolers living with me! My sons are ages three and five and attend junior kindergarten and preschool three’s respectively.
With all this inside info, it will be easy for you to find the best learning toys this year. Yes, it is great to have that cool action figure or doll your son or daughter adores, but in this gift guide, you will find the best learning toys for your children so you can give them something you feel good about.
Furthermore, I will describe why the toys I picked are useful and beneficial for growth and learning in young children.
After teaching for thirteen years, I’ve concluded that all parents want the best for their children. No matter where we come from or what age or stage of life we are in, we are all pulling for our children and want to do right by them.
This is why it is crucial to have some preschool age play-based learning toys under the tree this year, instead of the same old toy that your child loves for one day and then throws in the closet and never uses again – parents, we all know that toy! So this year follow along and let this be your number one toy gift guide!
Keep in mind, there is something for every budget and you do not have to spend a lot of money to help your child learn.
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25 Best Learning Toys for Preschool Children
There are so many awesome gift ideas for preschool-aged children that shopping need not be complicated. There are many Simple gift ideas for young children and you don’t need to search high and low to find them. My ideas below will focus on learning skills that are extremely important in the preschool ages. This gift guide will focus on fine and gross motor skills, letter recognition, number recognition, balance, and creativity. All the toys below have a four-star or above (mostly all above) customer rating and are broken down by skills.
All of the gifts below can be found on Amazon. Do not forget to sign up to Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial and get free two-day shipping on all of your gift orders. You can always cancel after the Holidays!
Fine Motor Skills
Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow! Activity Book, 3-Pack – Animals, Alphabet, and Numbers – Not only will these help with gripping and fine motor skills but what a clever way to help teach letters and numbers as well as a love for art! Research shows using different forms of sensory projects helps children retain what they are learning. Watercolor painting is not only fun but provides a great learning experience and my kids loved using these from ages two up to five (my oldest son is five now). We even take them to church!
LeapFrog Printing Dry Erase Activity Book for Grades K-1 with Washable Dry Erase Marker (19450) – This is another medium that will help with gripping and tracing letters. Young kids can take part in the fun! My three-year-old loves tracing letters on a dry erase board and this pack helps teach upper and lower case letters so it would be perfect for early learning practice and exposure to the alphabet.
Play-Doh Numbers, Letters, N’ Fun – Although most think play-doh is just for fun, children are actually building hand muscles while manipulating and playing with it. Hand muscles are essential for a good grip on their writing utensil and this will come in handy in Kindergarten. Also, this set includes letter molds! The more exposure young kids have to letters, the faster they will pick them up and you don’t really need to drill flashcards – Just have fun with it. Have them mold out the letters in their name! This is one of the first words they will learn in preschool!
VTech Write and Learn Creative Center – This fun toy will also help with grip and letter recognition. Write out the letter, wipe away and do the next. The thing I love about this toy is that it starts with teaching simple shapes! Shapes are a precursor to letter writing. After learning to draw the shapes it is on to the ABC’s for your little sweeties!
Boogie Board Scribble ‘n Play – My son received this as a gift for his fifth birthday and both my children LOVE it. The only downside is we only have one so they fight over it! This is a portable LCD play board that erases with the push of a button. There are four drawing objects that attach so it is perfect for a long car ride to Grandma’s or even a restaurant trip while company visits.
LEGO Juniors Fire Patrol Suitcase 10740 Toy for 4-Year-Olds – My son got this for his fifth birthday last year and played with it non-stop. The best part about this set is that it comes with a case to store the LEGO’s. These sets are perfect for 4-7 year-olds just learning how to manipulate little LEGO’s and follow directions. These LEGO sets hit on following step-by-step directions, fine motor skills, and future engineering and math skills- think STEM! Even though I cringe every time a little LEGO gets sucked up by the vacuum, this is one toy I never mind buying for my sons because they actually use them. We also bought a friend’s daughter the Cinderella LEGO Junior set for her birthday and she LOVED it (not that girls can’t do the firefighter set because they totally can!)
For more gift ideas for the fam’ check out my Gift Guide for the Lady in your Life.
Gross Motor Skills
Radio Flyer Glide N Go Balance Bike with Air Tires – These bikes are all the rage! Why? Because they literally help young kids learn to ride their big kid bikes with no training wheels. I’ve seen three different four-year-old kids ride a regular bike with no training wheels after two-four weeks of using a balance bike and this radio flyer bike does not disappoint! Balance is essential for a developing brain and actually aides in learning academic skills. Memory and movement are linked and physical activity is an important foundation for a healthy body.
The Original PlasmaCar by PlaSmart – Blue – Ride On Toy, Ages 3 yrs and Up, No batteries, gears or pedals, Twist, Turn, Wiggle for endless fun – This cool car is simple and fun! This toy will teach balance as your kid zips through the house. Exercise is essential for taking care of our bodies and we want our kids to wear off some of that energy while trapped inside all winter. This car will do the trick. Studies show kids that exercise are ready and able to learn. They also sleep better and good sleep is essential for brain development and learning. Also, children learn about the world by using all of their senses and movement is crucial for kids to meet all of their milestones.
Fat Brain Toys Teeter Popper – Green – This Teeter popper is another balance toy that will provide loads of fun. Movement in young children is critical for brain development and I know this can be a tough one for those of us living in sub-zero winter weather (not looking forward to this Michigan winter). Let your kids have fun and move around in the house! They will sleep better (brain development) and listen to you better as a result.
For more great gift ideas check out The best princess themed gifts for three and four-year-olds over at Sea Side Sundays.
Munchkin Letters and Numbers Bath Toys, 36 Count – Bath fun anyone? Kid’s love playing with letters in the bathtub! We play a bath letter game at our house every night. We (the parents) hold up a bath letter and if they (the child) get the letter or number correct, they got to keep it. Then we add up who has the most at the end and the kids stick them to the walls! My boys love this game and really started picking up their letters after weeks of playing it at night.
Crayola Bathtub Crayons 9 Count (2 Pack) – Bath crayons are another great idea for fine motor skills and bath fun! Let your child color your tub with bath crayons! They wipe off and they can draw something again the next bath time! They can also learn their colors with these fun crayons. Think of the smile on your child’s face when you tell them they CAN write on the walls!
On a budget this Christmas? Check out my Ultimate Budget Gift Guide!
Peaceable Kingdom Snug as a Bug in a Rug Award Winning Preschool Skills Builder Game for Kids – This game is amazing because it hits all the preschool skills (shapes, numbers, colors) all in a fun sorting game. Your kids will be learning without even realizing it. My three-year-old gives this game a thumbs up!
Alphabet Bingo, Up to 36 Players by Pint-Size Scholars – One of the reasons I love this letter bingo is that it includes upper and lower case letters. What better way to teach your child the alphabet than by using fun games!
Ice Cream Stacking Tower Balancing Game with Scooper for Kids – I scream, you scream, we all scream for… ICE CREAM!!! Do you have an ice cream lover at home? This is the perfect treat! This game teaches coordination and balance in a fun way for little ones!
Blue Orange Gobblet Gobblers Board Game – Both my three and five-year-old LOVE this game. This game teaches your child to think ahead and set up a strategy to win in a fun, creative Tic Tac Toe kind of way!
My First BOB Books: Pre-Reading Skills – Let me just say, if your preschooler has any interest in reading (I don’t recommend pushing them if they are not interested) then BOB Books are the books you want to pick up. My son started using these when he was four and was able to read the simple books by memorizing sight words. Your child will learn sight words in kindergarten so why not give them a leg up! Plus this is a fun activity they can do with mom or dad! From a teacher standpoint, these books are phenomenal. (The set pictured below is one of the first sets but the sets go up by skill level.)
Press Here – My kids adore this book. This book has fun directions and helps with numbers, counting, and colors. Just press the dot to find out what happens.
Portable Sing Along CD/USB/SD player Anti skip, with 2 Microphones & AC adapter – We are really into getting books on C.D. from our local library and many people don’t own C.D. players anymore! Fortunately, they still make them and this one is super fun because it comes with microphones so your kids can read along or sing along if you are ready for a Holiday dance party. What kid doesn’t love singing into a microphone. Studies also show music promotes intelligence.
LeapFrog LeapStart Interactive Learning System for Preschool & Pre-Kindergarten: My Pal Scout – Online Special Edition – This is an interactive learning system that can help your child learn all their preschool skills. My favorite part is that many of the games are interactive, which is what you want to look for if you are allowing your child screen time. Research shows interactive games are better than just watching shows or videos.
All-New Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet, 7″ Display, 16 GB, Pink Kid-Proof Case – This is a great tablet option because it comes with a kid-proof case which is essential for the little ones because they WILL drop it (my kids cracked an old Ipad mini my mom gave them – EEK!) Again, I am not a huge fan of letting kids sit on a screen but let’s be realistic, kids are going to use this technology in school and there are many interactive games on these tablets that allow children to learn skills so I don’t mind my kids playing learning games for around 1/2 hour a day! They are also great for a long Holiday car ride too!
For more Gadgets as cool as mom and dad head over to Homebound but Hopeful for an amazing gift guide.
Step2 LifeStyle Custom Kitchen Playset – Dramatic play has taken a back seat to academics in today’s world. However, it is imperative kids learn how to play by themselves and use self-directed play. Research shows this enhances creativity. Nonetheless, kids also love to imitate the adults in their lives. My son loves pretending to make me coffee because he has caught on somewhere between the three cups a day that I love coffee!
Step2 Easel For Two with Bonus Magnetic Letters/Numbers We have this baby at home too! My five-year-old is into playing school now and uses the magnetic letters to teach his little brother! The magnets that come with this include shapes and some objects as well. My kids like to put the sun up for daytime and the moon for night-time. You can put up the letters of your child’s name and have them trace with the dry erase marker. We also play a form of Pictionary with our easel. This Easel is two-sided. One side is dry erase and the other chalk! Less stress for me because they can both play and do not fight over it!
Little Tikes 2-in-1 Food Truck – This is a new toy that I’ve seen in a lot of advertising this year. Your kids can use dramatic play to play food truck! Not only will they be using creativity but it is super cute too!
Learning Resources Pretend & Play Cash Register Assorted Pink Playset, Pink, Standard Packaging – Every kid should own a cash register! Since I am a personal finance blogger, I promote teaching your kids about money at an early age. You can emphasize how we have to pay for things as you play store with your little one. You can also go over money value with the coins and dollars.
Melissa & Doug Food Groups – 21 Hand-Painted Wooden Pieces and 4 Crates – This is another set we own! Melissa and Doug is a trusted brand with so many creative options for preschool learning toys. We use our cash register to pretend to buy our food! My kids also like to use this food to make dinner dishes. This wooden food is sturdy and will stand the test of toddlers and time!
Suggested Reading: Epic Ways to Teach Kids About Money at All Stages
All of the toys listed above are great options and have a four-star customer rating or above (mostly above) on Amazon!
We all want our kids to be Kindergarten-ready! These toys will help boost their confidence and skills. Fine and large motor skills are so important for preschool-aged children! Number and letter recognition are also great skills to begin teaching. Dramatic play and balance will help with brain development and creativity. Interactive books and games will also let them know you care by taking the time to sit with them. Your child will be one step ahead of the game this year!
These are my top 25 gifts but some other amazing learning gifts include puzzles and wooden blocks! Puzzles teach your child problem-solving skills and blocks build early math skills and if you get ones with letters and numbers like theMelissa & Doug Classic ABC Wooden Block Cart Educational Toy With 30 Solid Wood Blocks you can play and teach those skills as well!
Here is wishing you the best this Holiday Season! I’m hoping my 25 best learning gifts for preschool children has left your with some amazing ideas and you are ready to start your shopping early! If your child is going to get a lot of presents for Christmas this year, why not make them learning toys? The fun will be endless and they won’t even realize they are learning! Way to go Mom and Dad!
If need more information on the toys listed above or need more gift ideas please leave me a comment below.
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As always, take care – Sarah