Gift Ideas for 3 year olds (2021)

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

Here are our gift ideas for three year old toddlers based on typical development and the way children this age generally explore the world through play.

At three children are actively exploring the world outside of their own world. They still enjoy solitary play and playing around others, but are starting to show interest in interacting with them too. They may have started coordinating their fun with friends but not necessarily so. They are definitely learning some awesome new social skills like sharing, taking turns, and cooperation. As they engage in more complex physical, constructive, expressive, and dramatic play, every day is filled with discovery, wonder and imagination.

 
Ways to Play: Breaking down the big categories of play by the types of activities children engage in
 
Here are our 2021 top toy picks for 3 year olds (not in any particular order). Scroll down for more on each recommendation and the associated developmental benefits:


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*Products mentioned on this page are meant for toddlers under adult supervision. (Manufacturer's age recommendations are noted when available)
 

Building Blocks

Melissa & Doug Standard Unit Building Blocks. Click the photo to see the price on Amazon


Melissa & Doug Standard Unit Solid-Wood Building Blocks With Wooden Storage Tray, 60 pcs (3-8 years)


This set of open-ended standard sized unit blocks have been well loved in our playroom. They are beautifully crafted, made of solid wood, and pretty substantial. These traditional blocks are perfect for stacking, building, balancing, learning early math concepts, and imaginative play.


BENEFITS:

  • Hand-eye coordination

  • Spatial skills (where objects are in relation to each other)

  • Strengthens problem solving

  • Focus and concentration

  • Learns shapes, counting

  • Natures creativity

  • Develops physical strength; engaging gross motor (big muscles like arms, trunks, and legs) and fine motor (small muscles like fingers, and hands) movements

  • Encourages communication and language development

 

Jumbo Puzzles

Mudpuppy At the Zoo Jumbo Puzzle. Click the photo to see the price on Amazon


Mudpuppy At the Zoo Jumbo Puzzle, 25 Pieces, Floor Puzzle (2 years & up)


We are venturing into jigsaw territory with these jumbo floor puzzles. We have several of these and my little one loves them! The precision cut pieces are big, thick, and sturdy making them easy to manipulate and connect. The whimsical artwork on every puzzle is colorful, full of toddler friendly easy to identify details, and fun to look at.

BENEFITS:

  • Hand-eye coordination

  • Spatial skills (where objects are in relation to each other)

  • Visual perception skills

  • Focus and concentration

  • Encourages communication and language development

  • Strengthens problem solving

  • Develops physical strength; engaging fine motor (small muscles like fingers, and hands) movements

 

Sensory Fun

Sensory Bin Tools. Click the photo to see the price on Amazon


Sensory Bin Tools with Wooden Box (3 years & up)


Sensory bins at this age are so much fun. This gorgeous set of 12 wooden sensory bin tools makes the perfect addition to any set up. My little one loves exploring with her tools and gets so much wonderful fine motor practice (like scooping, pouring, transferring, stacking, nesting, pinching and squeezing). Playing in her sensory bin also builds her observational skills, abstract thinking, and encourages experimentation.


BENEFITS:

  • Hand-eye coordination

  • Focus and concentration

  • Engages the senses: enhance auditory, tactile and visual sensory development

  • Learns cause-and-effect

  • Develops physical strength; engaging fine motor (small muscles like fingers, and hands) movements

  • Encourages communication and language development

 

Memory and Matching Game

eeBoo I Never Forget a Face Game. Click the photo to see the price on Amazon


eeBoo I Never Forget a Face Memory Matching Game for Kids (3 years & up)


This game is a wonderful way to sharpen recognition and memory skills while introducing the diversity of children from countries around the world. It's a thoughtfully designed memory and matching game that celebrates cultural differences in beautifully illustrated details.


BENEFITS:

  • Focus and concentration

  • Develops physical strength; engaging fine motor (small muscles like fingers, and hands) movements

  • Learns world cultures and geography

  • Celebrates diversity

  • Spatial skills (where objects are in relation to each other)

  • Sharpens memory skills, attention to detail, spatial memory

  • Builds confidence

  • Encourages communication and language development

 

Magnetic Play Set


Magna-Tiles® Jungle Animals. Click the photo to see the price on Magna-Tiles


Magna-Tiles® Jungle Animals 25-Piece Set (3 years & up)


We love the open-ended awesomeness of our Magna-Tiles 3-D magnetic building sets but when they decided to create movable magnetic animals to go with them we went wild! Our set has been well loved by our little one and found its way into countless builds and environments we've constructed with our other sets. The "magna-mals" are just the right size and shape for small hands and make frequent appearances in her pretend play with other toys too.


BENEFITS:

  • Hand-eye coordination

  • Spatial skills (where objects are in relation to each other)

  • Engages the senses: enhance auditory, tactile and visual sensory development

  • Strengthens problem solving

  • Focus and concentration

  • Learns shapes, colors, animals, STEM concepts

  • Natures creativity

  • Develops physical strength; engaging gross motor (big muscles like arms, trunks, and legs) and fine motor (small muscles like fingers, and hands) movements

  • Encourages communication and language development

  • Builds confidence

 

Pretend Cooking


Melissa & Doug Stainless Steel Pots and Pans. Click the photo to see the price on Amazon


Melissa & Doug Stainless Steel Pots and Pans Pretend Play Kitchen Set for Kids, 8 pcs (3 years & up)


This realistic kid-sized set has been used to whip up oodles of delectable delights and grand feasts in our play kitchen, sensory table, and any other place the mood strikes. The sturdy stainless steel construction and riveted handles have kept every piece looking as good and feeling as secure as the day we got it. I love that It's dishwasher safe and super durable. It's extremely versatile too! Our girl has involved it in all sorts of imaginative play and noise making spectaculars.


BENEFITS:

  • Hand-eye coordination

  • Develops physical strength; engaging gross motor (big muscles like arms, trunks, and legs) and fine motor (small muscles like fingers, and hands) movements

  • Natures creativity

  • Cultivates social skills

  • Encourages communication and language development

 

Construction Zone



Kinetic Sand, Construction Site. Click the photo to see the price on Amazon


Kinetic Sand, Construction Site Folding Sandbox Playset with Vehicle and 2lbs (3 years & up)


It's basically a portable construction themed sensory bin with the coolest and most mesmerizing sensory enhancing base, Kinetic Sand. It's such an awesome set we've gifted it to other friends turning 3 and they loved it too!


BENEFITS:

  • Hand-eye coordination

  • Focus and concentration

  • Engages the senses: enhance tactile and visual sensory development

  • Learns cause-and-effect

  • Develops physical strength; engaging fine motor (small muscles like fingers, and hands) movements

  • Natures creativity

  • Encourages communication and language development

 

Balance Board

Gentle Monster Balance Board. Click the photo to see the price on Amazon


Wooden Wobble Balance Board, Gentle Monster 35 Inch Rocker Board Natural Wood (18 months & up)


Balance boards are everything! They are a great way to develop multiple skills while having a blast doing it. It's open-ended nature turns it into anything your little one can imagine. Our balance board has been a rocker, slide, cave, lounger, theater, goal, race track, counter top, and much much more.


BENEFITS:

  • Develops physical strength; engaging gross motor(big muscles like arms, trunks, and legs) and fine motor (small muscles like fingers, and hands) movements

  • Coordination and balancing skills

  • Builds confidence

  • Spatial skills (where objects are in relation to each other)

  • Natures creativity

  • Encourages communication and language development

 

Play Silks

Sarah's Silks Enchanted Playsilk. Click the photo to see the price on Amazon


Sarah's Silks Enchanted Playsilk, 100% Silk Scarves- Rainbow (3 years & up)


The whole family loves touching and playing with these luxuriously soft play silks. They are gloriously versatile! They can transform into anything your little one imagines or used as a prop in their pretend play. The generous 35" x 35" size makes it perfect for loads of dress up fun and expressive play! They are sturdy but not indestructible. They do require some care to keep them looking and feeling like new (especially if your little one is still mouthing).


BENEFITS:

  • Engages the senses: enhance tactile and visual sensory development

  • Coordination and balancing skills

  • Builds confidence

  • Spatial skills (where objects are in relation to each other)

  • Develops physical strength; engaging gross motor (big muscles like arms, trunks, and legs) and fine motor (small muscles like fingers, and hands) movements

  • Natures creativity

  • Encourages communication and language development

 

Caring for Baby

Plan Toys Doll Feeding Set. Click the photo to see the price on Amazon


Plan Toys Doll Feeding Set (3-5 years)


Toys that enhance caregiving behavior give toddlers a chance to practice social interactions. Time spent caring for their dolls is a great way to help them develop their sense of empathy and social-emotional skills. We love this simple gender neutral doll feeding set. It's gorgeous in person and is the perfect size for kiddos this age.


BENEFITS:

  • Hand-eye coordination

  • Develops physical strength; engaging gross motor (big muscles like arms, trunks, and legs) and fine motor (small muscles like fingers, and hands) movements

  • Natures creativity

  • Cultivates social skills

  • Encourages communication and language development

 

Flexible Roads

waytoplay Highway Flexible Toy Road Set. Click the photo to see the price on Amazon


waytoplay Highway Flexible Toy Road Set, 24 pcs (3 years & up)


If your little ones love things that go as much as ours does, this set of open-ended toy road is fabulous for enhancing their imaginative play. These flexible interlocking road pieces can be used on almost any surface (inside and outdoors), are waterproof, and practically indestructible. Our sets are well loved, out often, and an absolute hit when friends come over to play.


BENEFITS:

  • Hand-eye coordination

  • Spatial skills (where objects are in relation to each other)

  • Strengthens problem solving

  • Focus and concentration

  • Natures creativity

  • Develops physical strength; engaging gross motor (big muscles like arms, trunks, and legs) and fine motor (small muscles like fingers, and hands) movements

  • Encourages communication and language development

 
When choosing what we add to our playroom, we prioritized products that will engage our little one's social, physical, and intellectual development. We also look for items that are open ended, gender neutral, celebrates diversity, and made from natural materials whenever possible. Our recommendations are based on what we've learned along the way, our first hand experience with these or similar products, and our comparison of ratings and reviews.
 
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