11 Christmas Gifts For Preschoolers – What’s Needed and What’s Not

Best Christmas Gifts For Preschoolers

Article updated oct 2017


Christmas 2017 is just around the corner.  And now the rush for finding the best Christmas gifts for preschoolers begins.

But don’t worry.  I can help you.  Shopping for toys (or anything for that matter) can be overwhelming with so much selection.  There are hundreds of different blocks to choose from, for example.

Or how are you even going to begin trying to figure out what doll to by your nephew.  Yes, I said Nephew, here’s why!

Perhaps you should invest in the newest tech gadgets for 3 year old’s.  After all they will turn that little preschooler into a prodigy, and if not that at least she will be a grade or 2 ahead of the kids who weren’t so lucky and didn’t get that great toy.

That last paragraph was meant to be read with a sarcastic tone.  If you are new to Seeme and Liz, I am not a fan of battery operated toys for young children.  The ones that do all the talking and “teaching”.  And with good reason!

So you won’t find any very “techy” toys on this list – actually there is one that made it.  Some will require batteries while many won’t.

If I have already written an article about a particular toy or group of toys, I will make sure to link to it.

If it is a new toy to Seeme & Liz then I will provide some information about how the toy can help with your preschoolers language development and learning.

These toys have been chosen for the quality, value and of course because they will facilitate a child’s language development and learning.

For the sake of this article, preschoolers are children ages 3 and 4.  The toys listed are in no particular order.

preschool learning puzzles information for parents and teachers

11 Exceptional Christmas Gifts For Preschoolers

Ready, Set, Bodies (Alex Toys)

This would make a great gift for an inquisitive 4 year old.  Or for a child who loves arts and crafts.

Ready, Set, Bodies is a hands on kit that comes with 8 activities for children ages 4 and up to participate in.

By making these crafts children can learn about different functions of the body, including stretching a piece of tape over a paper cup and then tapping on it to simulate a heart beating.

They can also build a skeleton, breath through a straw into a paper bag, which they can decorate, to simulate breathing and make a braille alphabet chart.

This kit will help boost your child’s understanding of concepts, logical thinking and vocabulary.

The Ready, Set, Bodies set would also make a great addition in a daycare, home school or preschool!
Ready, Set, Bodies (Alex Toys)

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Cozy Coupe Vehicles

My kids loved their Little Tikes Cozy Coupe car.  The only reason we got rid of it was because they were getting stuck in it all the time (they are meant for 1-5 year old’s, not a 7 and 9 year old!)

The Cozy Coupe line of vehicles includes cars, trucks, police and fire trucks and shopping carts.

There are many benefits to ride on vehicles such as the Cozy Coupe ones.  To see how they can benefit your child from a language and learning perspective click here.
Little Tikes Cozy Coupe Vehiclesget best price buttonbenefits of toddler ride on fire engine

KidKraft Uptown Espresso Kitchen

A kids play kitchen is my Number 1 Recommended Toy!  Every child should have one.

Because I love toy kitchens so much, I have written the following articles about them!

The 5 Best Kids Play Kitchens: They Will All Encourage Language and Learning! – This article is packed with speech and language tips!

Kids Toy Kitchens: 10 Reasons Why Every Child Should Have One!

5 Kitchen Sets For Older Kids You Need To Check Out!

DIY Kids Kitchen Sets: Your Ultimate Guide

Cardboard Kids Kitchens: A Portable and Eco-Friendly Alternative

The 8 Best Toy Kitchen Sets Of 2017 Are Here!

The Uptown Espresso Kitchen made this list because it is great value for the cost (just over $100 on most online retailer websites).

It also has a sleek modern look and should fit with the style of most homes, so it doesn’t necessarily need to be hidden away because it’s an eyesore.

And KidKraft is known for their high quality children’s toys.  We had a KidKraft play house that was a hit in our backyard.
KidKraft Uptown Espresso Kitchenget best price button

Cash Register (Learning Resources)

A toy cash register can be an accessory to a play kitchen or it can be used on it’s own.

My kids have this cash register and use it with their play kitchen, but also without.

It works well for older children too since they can use it to work on money concepts as well as doing some addition and subtraction in a play situation that parallels ones they have seen in real life (for example, going shopping with an adult).

A cash register is a fun way to extend the pretend play and role playing.  Children can take turns being a cashier and bagging groceries or being a waiter/waitress in a restaurant and ringing in orders.

Or it can be used in the gas station as a friend pulls up in a Cozy Coupe vehicle!
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Melissa and Doug Dress Up Clothes

Dress up clothes are a great way to encourage more pretend play!  And they also make wonderful Halloween Costumes.  But the opposite is also true.  If you have Halloween costumes laying around, they can be used for creative and imaginative play.

Be sure to take a look at the learning benefits of dress up clothes for children and why costumes shouldn’t be packed up once Halloween is done.

Dress up clothes for kids can also be used in combination with toys such as a Cozy Coupe car, play kitchen, etc.

My kids have several of the Melissa and Doug costumes.  They all come with some accessories and are very well made.  Excellent value for what you pay (about $20-$25 US a costume)
Melissa & Doug Role Play Bundleget best price button

 

Fisher-Price Code-A-Pillar

I recently did a review of this toy. You can read all about it here.

The Code-A-Pillar is meant for children ages 3-8.  I am not usually an advocate of these techy toys for preschoolers, however I do feel that the Code-a-Pillar would make a great gift for the child that already has a lot of the other toys I am mentioning.

While this toy isn’t necessary for a child’s development, it does help facilitate skills such as problem solving and prediction.
Fisher-Price Code A Pillarget best price button

 

PLAYMOBIL Take Along School House Playset

Pretend play is an important part of childhood development.  It’s one of the reasons that it makes up such a large portion of this website.

The PLAYMOBIL sets have some great themes, including this School Playset!

When children first begin participating in pretend play, they often role play situations they are familiar with.  This is why many children love playing “house”, “school” and “doctor”.  These are all routines children know a lot about.

This playset comes with many accessories and can lead to hours of imaginative play.  Pair it with other PLAYMOBIL sets and extend the play even further.
PLAYMOBIL Take Along School House Playset

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Guidecraft IO Blocks® Building Toy

This toy offers a great spin on traditional blocks.

I love that they can connect together in a variety of ways to create an assortment of different figures including vehicles, buildings, etc.

These blocks will help facilitate fine motor and problem solving skills as well as spatial concepts.  All of the IO Blocks® building toys sets can be used in combination with one another.

The IO Blocks® sets also come with an augmented-reality app.  The app has 3D instructions that children can use if they need some help with building.  The instructions can be paused at anytime so children won’t have to feel rushed.

Children can get pretty creative with this toy building figures from boats and cars to towers and animals!
Guidecraft IO Blocks® Building Toy

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Melissa & Doug Fold & Go Wooden Barn

Toys don’t need to be big to be fun.  The Fold & Go Barn is a perfect example of this.  It’s a great size for little hands and can easily be packed up with the animals and other accessories stored safely inside.

This barn is so simplistic that when you see it next to some of the other toy barns and farm sets out there you may think that they forgot to finish the product.  But this is the beauty of it.

There are no batteries needed, it’s not covered in bright colors, letters, numbers or words.  It’s an empty slate that can be whatever an imaginative child wants it to be.

Here are some language and learning tips specifically for toy farms!
Melissa & Doug Fold & Go Wooden Barnget best price button

 

Melissa & Doug Let’s Play House

Did you know that children who start doing chores at a young age may just be more successful as adults than those who didn’t?  Here’s some information from a 75 year longitudinal study to back up that claim!

While sweeping and washing the floor might not be age appropriate for 3 and 4 year olds, they certainly can be made to feel as though they are helping with this “Let’s Play House” set by Melissa and Doug.

It can also make a great addition to a playhouse or play kitchen to extend the pretend play that is going on!

You can use this set to talk to your child about the importance of cleaning and what each item in the set is used for (NOTE: all items can be used for light cleaning, except for the mop which isn’t meant to get wet).  Introduce new vocabulary such as “bristles, dusting, dust pan” etc.

I did notice that some of the older reviews of this product were negative, advising the product was poor quality (which is not typical of Melissa and Doug toys).

However, if in fact this cleaning set was made poorly, it seems that it has been improved based on the more recent reviews. You can read the reviews here.
Melissa & Doug Let's Play Houseget best price button

B. Doctor Kit

Going to the doctor can be scary for a young child.  But when you have a pretend play doctor’s kit around, children can step into the shoes of a doctor.

I love all of the B. toys!  They are well made and perfect for young hands and minds.

A doctor’s kit allows for hours of role playing, but it can also teach skills such as empathy, taking another person’s perspective, problem solving and prediction.

Introduce your preschooler to new vocabulary such as: stethoscope, syringe, blood pressure cuff and otoscope (that has a hole through it so you can look into an ear).

This kit comes with 9 pieces and a carrying case!  And it is safe for children as young as 18 months (most doctor kits are recommended for 3 and over).  So if there are younger siblings in the house, they can all safely play with the B. Doctor Kit!
B. Dr Medical Kit
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Amazon STEM Club Review

 

Now You Can Start Your Christmas Shopping For Your Preschooler!

This list could easily have over 100 Christmas gifts for preschoolers.

But that would be overwhelming and probably cause more frustration than anything else.

Children do not need many toys.  Rather it is about the quality of toys a child has access to.   By quality I mean how the child uses it to play and consequently learn.

I have carefully chosen these toys because they are wonderful from a learning perspective.  You may have noticed that none of these toys claim to teach preschoolers academic skills and that is because young children don’t truly learn from these types of toys.

Childhood development involves so much more than early academics.  And here’s why I feel this way!

11 Christmas Gift Ideas For Preschoolers. Find out how each toy will help with speech-language development and learning!

18 Comments

  1. kai

    With all the awesome recommendations out there for Christmas gift ideas, I will never run out of ideas for what to get for my kids as well as my nephew.

    What I love about your list of toys is that they are mostly educational and role-playing oriented. Whenever I am looking for a particular toy for my kids, I will first consider how can it help enhance my kids in learning and creativity.

    I really like that you give ideas for how to use the toy and what the child can learn through play.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Kai

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Yes, there are endless lists of Christmas gift ideas for preschoolers.  I try to make my Holiday Gift Guides a bit different by only selecting a limited number of toys and then telling parents/caregivers why each toy was chosen and how the toy can be used for optimal development.

      Good luck with your Christmas shopping!

      Reply
  2. Joe Petruzzi

    I am so happy to see traditional and physical toys on this list! Gadgets only spoil kids with instant gratification and no appreciation for the roots of society. I started with legos and am now a proud engineer. On top of that physical toys typically have more obvious and visible solutions when they break, giving kids more of a chance to solve problems. Great article!

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks Joe.  My 8 year old son is also obsessed with Lego (and his screens of course, but in our house that time is closely monitored).  

      Young children need a lot of exposure to traditional hands on toys so that they can build some solid foundations that will help them navigate the digital world as they get older!

      And like you said, there are many problems that can arise with these types of toys that require children to problem solve.  This doesn’t really happen in the digital world for children.  

      Reply
  3. Claudia Del Río

    Hi Tanya! I loved this article. I have some better ideas now for a christmas present for my daughter. Didn’t know that those Cozy Coupe Vehicles would be good for a 2 years old child. Been looking for a car like that but with two seats so two kids could play and drive together at the same time. Do you know if there’s any model like what I’m looking for?

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Claudia,

      Unfortunately I don’t think that there are any 2 seater push/pedal cars on the market.  The only ones I know of are the batter powered ones like these.  But since the electric ones are usually $200+ and quite large you could get 2 different Cozy Coupe cars and then children could alternate.  And this could lead to even more pretend play opportunities!

      Reply
  4. Canadian Mama

    Hi Tanya,
    I love this post, thank you for all the awesome gift suggestions for little ones. The Ready, Set, Bodies set sounds like a great idea. I was already thinking about getting a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe car and a toy kitchen for my 1-year-old son but he may be too young. What do you think?

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thank you!  You are right, at 1 your son is still a bit young for a Cozy Coupe Car.  Those are better for 2.5 to 3 year old’s.  

      The same is true for a kids play kitchen.  You can start out by getting him a small toddler one like this one.  Or check out the Little Tikes Cook n Grow Kitchen.  It has 2 height settings so it will grow with him.  You should get many years of use out of that one.

      Reply
  5. Batya

    Thank you for this great post. I really like some of these ideas although I’m thinking of buying my daughter a real game like board game, she already has matching games which she’s pretty good at so I’m looking for something different.
    What do you think about Candy Land or Hi Ho Cherry Oh? I’m leaning more towards Candy Land since I don’t like the small peices in Hi Ho Cherry Oh. Any thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Batya,

      It really depends on the age of your daughter and her attention span. Even simple board games can be overwhelming for some children. There is a lot going on when playing a rule based game. First you have to know and understand the rules, second a child needs to be able to understand the social aspects of winning and losing.

      Candy Land is a great starter game and if you think that your daughter has the attention span and social skills to not get frustrated and mad, then I say give it a try!

      All that being said, the reason that these particular toys ended up on this list is because they are open ended and allow for the building of many skills. Board games aren’t open ended as the game is meant to be played a certain way. But, this doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with board games. In fact they are great for learning other skills. But that wasn’t the point of this list. Hope that makes sense.

      Reply
  6. Martina

    Awesome post and recommendations! I love the first toy as I have a crafty 4 year old who will make stuff out of anything….but mama isnt as crafty. What a great toy to guide us (me lol) through craft making without pulling my hair out. I also have a 3 year old and a 20 month old, and we have been eyeing a kitchen for all 3 of them. This kitchen looks amazing and at a great price point (similarly priced to the other more gaudy looking play kitchens out there. ) Book marking this post, thank you =)

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Glad to hear you found the recommendations for Christmas gifts for preschoolers helpful Martina! You sound like me, I am not very crafty (which is why you won’t find any craft articles on the site), but my kids always want to do crafts. I love craft kits for that reason!

      If you want more information on play kitchens, check out these articles The 5 Best Kids Play Kitchens: They Will All Encourage Language and Learning, Cardboard Kids Kitchens: A Portable and Eco-Friendly Alternative and 5 Kitchen Sets For Older Kids You Need To Check Out!

      Hopefully they won’t overwhelm you, but there are so many play kitchens out there. It really comes down to your style, space and budget when choosing a kids play kitchen.

      Reply
  7. Lorenz Valdez

    Right on. Since its almost christmas, I will be doing a lot of christmas shopping for all my nieces and nephews and God children. This is a great list of items I could get for them. I went to the mall here in Maui like 2 days ago and they already started playing Christmas music so it really got me in the mood already!

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks for your comment Lorenz! Glad to hear you found this list helpful. Hopefully it will make Christmas shopping a bit easier this year.

      Reply
  8. lilywong

    Wow, awesome list! I am tasked to get gifts for a bunch of preschoolers and I have been out of ideas. This came in real handy! The bigger toys, are out of my price range, but the dress up clothes seem to be a great idea! I think the block sets would appeal to both boys and girls. Thanks for sharing this!

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      I’m glad to hear that the Christmas gift idea list was helpful for you. Make sure you take a look at Best Learning Toys For 3 Year Old’s To Encourage Language Development for some ideas I didn’t mention in this article. Good luck with your shopping.

      Reply
  9. rebecca cosmidou

    These are maybe some of the best Christmas gifts for preschoolers. I have a 3 year old girl and I have almost all of them. Children adore playing with Playmobil, IQ blocks, etc. It’s good to know that there is a site at which I could find something interesting for my baby girl!

    Thanks, Tanya for making us members of your family!

    Best wishes,

    Rebecca!

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Rebecca!

      Sounds like you are on the right track with regards to toys for your daughter! I am happy to hear she has many of these toys and loves them. Thank for your comment.

      Reply

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