Last Updated on August 19, 2023 by Sarah McCubbin
People love to buy preschool toys for 3 and 4 year olds. They just do. I do too. But what are the best toys? When my kids were little, I would buy them a bunch of stuff at Christmas and then spend the next 6 months purging. It’s pretty much a vicious cycle! But after 20 years of parenting 9 kids, I have some perspective on my very favorite toys that have stood the test of time.
Recently I was telling my sister that when I purge toys, I always purge them down to the same 4 buckets of classic toys…always. Sometimes that is because toys were great but have since broken. Other times they lost pieces and so we get rid of them. And that is fine, but its interesting to see that I consistenly narrow things down to the same toys.
Whether you have a preschooler or are buying for someone else’s preschooler, you probably don’t want to cause frustration with your gift and you want the child to enjoy it. I can’t wait to share my recommendations with you.
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Gift Guide for Preschool Toys for 3 and 4 Year Olds
Before I share my list, I just want to offer a couple of thought. If you are buying toys for 3 and 4 year olds, definitely check with the parents to make sure it is something they want. Of if you are trying to keep it a surprise, take a look at the brands of toys they already own. If they already have it, they will likely enjoy having more of it. But getting just one set of a new kind of toy isn’t nearly as fun as having something you can add onto with your existing collection.
Recommended Preschool Toys for 3 and 4 Year Olds
Zoob Building Toys
My kids have LOVED Zoobs from ages 3 to about age 12. They are bigger chunkier pieces than some building toys. They come with great instruction booklets with step by step instructions to build cool projects…or your kiddo can build on their own.
This is one of the toys I always come back to when we clean out the clutter. We keep the Zoobs and someone gets a new set or two every Christmas. This one is a classic your kids will love!
Wooden blocks are a classic toy that let children use their imagination to go anywhere and be anything. My kids have enjoyed building all kinds of creations and often pair their favorite action figures from the toy box with their block creations.
Most toy manufactures sell houses to go with their figures but a set of blocks will let your child build their own “houses” over and over!
There is something about play food that just transports you back to childhood. My inlaws have 2 full play kitchens set up and tons of play food for the little kids. They love it!
My kids have wanted to serve me “dinner” many times in their kitchens. And of course our job as parents is to tell them how “yummy” their wooden and plastic food is. It’s alot of fun!
Play food can be enjoyed with or without a toy kitchen!
Do a Dot Markers
Do a Dot Markers are so much fun for preschoolers. My kids loved using them on their alphabet practice sheets to make all their letters. Of course, there are other activities you can use them with too. There are many themed worksheets on the market.
These markers are perfect because they don’t require great fine motor skills. They are a bit chunkier and easy for little to hold onto! Love these!
Duplo blocks are the perfect gift for children to work on fine motor skills. Follow the instructions in the set or build your own creations. Since the pieces are larger than regular Legos, they are safe for the smallest members of the house to enjoy.
These are classic toys! My mom still has the ones we played with from our childhood!!
There is nothing like a set of Lincoln Logs to transport you back to the “Wild West!” These are perfect for small children to build with and fun for mom and dad too.
These are also a great toy that can be added to with additional sets so you can make bigger and more elaborate structures and towns. This is another classic that stands the test of time in our family!
Educational Insights Design and Drill
Ok, this toy is so much fun….even for parents. This working drill gives kids pattern cards to follow as they drill their colorful plastic screws into a pattern sheet.
My kids have enjoyed this many times. It feels very real but is a great toy to use for learning patterns and shapes!
Melissa and Doug Floor Puzzles
Melissa and Doug floor puzzles are such a fun way to do puzzles with kids. The pieces are BIG making them hard to lose. They are also easy for little hands to hold and manipulate. It’s a great way to get down on the floor together and work on problem solving skills!
We have managed to keep the pieces for these puzzles for many years. That is a true testiment in a house full of kids. Plus they are so colorful and fun that kids enjoy sitting and looking at them for awhile after they are put together!
Insect Lore Butterfly Habitat Kit
Oh my goodness, we LOVE this kit….LOVE. I think I have purchased it 4 times over the years. We do it every few years and the kids love it every time. This one is better for warm weather because you will need to order the caterpillars after the kit comes and they will not ship them in cold months.
Also, after your butteflies hatch you will want to release them and that is of course better when its warm!!
If you have never done this….do it. Everyone in the family will enjoy it!!
Things I Wish I Would Have Known About Doing Preschool
Want to know what I’ve learned as a mom of 9 about preschool? Check out this video where I go through some of my observations and how being an inperfect parent totally works for this kids this age!
Enjoy Your Preschool Years With Your Kids!!
Whether your child is totally chill or a wild child, the preschool years are full of opportunities to have adventures with your kids. You can start in your own livingroom with fun preschool toys for 3 and 4 year olds or go outside and enjoy the great outdoors.
During the warm months, my preschool kids spent LOTS of time outside. But in the winter when we were cooped up, having an assortment of classic toys made us all feel less crazy and gave them something to do that they enjoyed while still learning.
With little kids, sometimes the days are very long but you are laying a foundation for the relationship you will have for years to come. You don’t have to do it perfectly for it to be good!