I’ve researched, explored, scoured around, and M has tested, played, and tested some more to help you find the perfect gifts for preschoolers, or little kids. This gift list features both educational toy and practical non-toy gifts, with an overall target age of 3-6 year olds. Check each gift’s listing details for the exact age appropriateness of it (most will be good for the full range.)
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. Some items were received free of charge from brands for gift guide consideration.
If you’re looking for some great strategies for choosing the best gifts for preschoolers, you can see them here.
In this list, I’ve put together some actual recommendations from things we’ve tried and received as gifts or bought ourselves. There are also some suggestions from a friend – but you can rest assured, these are all tried and true!
12 Toy Gifts:
Kids learn through play, so there’s no reason not to give them toys (unless they have too many… in which case scroll down to the second half of this post.)
1. A cash register that’s just like the one you enjoyed as a child.
There’s a reason that some toys are still around, and with this classic toy cash register from Cracker Barrel Old Country Store the reason for it is clear.
For the greater part of M’s birthday party, the kids were huddled around it and playing with it. It’s also a great way to get kids learning about concepts of money and buying.
2. A single play set with endless opportunities for pretending.
We have limited space, which means that it’s hard for us to afford the area required for every last pretend play experience my kids would like.
The thing is that M thrives on pretend play, just like many other kids his age. This super cool 4-in-1 play set features a diner, classroom, grocery store, and puppet theater in a single piece that folds small and thin for storage.
It includes chalkboards on a few of the panels, and comes with the chalk and eraser for it. Open it up, fold out the counters, or put on a super cool puppet show!
It’s crafted of sturdy wood and will become a new favorite. While I love that it can be easily stowed away when we need the space, we rarely need to, and only do so when we need the extra space for guests! This is one of my favorite pretend play gifts for preschoolers.
3. A chance to get their energy out:
This squeaky jumper was a massive hit from the moment that M’s aunt and uncle bought it for him! Bonus points: that energy is channeled to a good place… We got the Unicorn version for a unicorn-loving little girl’s birthday gift.
4. A kit and book that teaches kids about kindness: (and also makes a meaningful alternative tradition to Elf on the Shelf).
The kindness elves teach kids to be kind and notice those around them. It encourages them to think of how they can help solve kids’ problems.
Follow along with the book, and let the little elf house fly in with the elves, leaving a note stating what they can do for others.
The elves come in your choice of outfit color and skin and hair tone. They are a remarkable way to teach kids to do for others, and so much more than just a toy!
5. A magnificent tool bench designed by the one and only Joanna Gaines
Anyone here as obsessed with Fixer Upper as I am? This tool bench is not only a stunning addition to your playroom, but it will also be a source of endless hours of fixing stuff.
6. An epic mess-free coloring experience (epic for mom AND kid!)
It’s not enough for me to tell you about this. You need to see it for yourself:
We are long-time fans of Crayola’s Color Wonder line and use them a lot when we travel. But now it’s a winner at home too!
M LOVES painting – he asks me to do so almost daily. And then soon after, he trails around the house, making fingerprints all over. The Crayola Color Wonder Magic Light Brush & Drawing Pad brings us that mess-free painting experience in paints.
The clear gel paints don’t show up all over the place (yes, you will need to wipe your table clean.) The brush lights up with the correct color when it comes near that pot. This is one of my creative play gifts for preschoolers.
M has spent many many hours making paintings with this, and we turned some favorites into rewards charts for him:
Mom confession: I never know what to do with M's artwork – he'll create five pieces at once, and he has a huge wall in his room already with stuff. It breaks my heart, but I usually sneak it into the garbage when he's not looking… This time, I turned M's favorite artwork into rewards charts for him to earn cool prizes (well, cool in the eyes of a four year old…) I just added some thin strips of washi tape to create a chart. We put stickers into the boxes when he cleans up and says his blessings before eating… And he loves that he "made" it!!
7. A doctor kit that’s much cooler than the ones you had as a child.
If you have a child who is anxious about going to the doctor, or even one who just loves to pretend, the Pretend & Play® Doctor Set is truly special.
It has everything your budding doc might need, or even want. It has as cellphone that makes noise. The stethoscope makes you sound really sick too.
Your child can even dress the part with glasses and a name tag! Needless to say, M is obsessed and keeps checking my blood pressure and asking me “Mommy, how are you feeling today?”. This is another of my favorite pretend play gifts for preschoolers.
8. Lessons about nature from Bindi Irwin in the form of a super cool microscope:
If you think it’s hard to teach kids, just take a look at the Educational Insights GeoSafari® Jr. Talking Microscope™. It features 20 slides and endless facts. And since it’s fun, M doesn’t realize that it’s educational!
A favorite hit for your science-loving preschooler, this is one of my favorite educational gifts for preschoolers. It has also provided hours of entertainment and gets played with daily.
Your children can choose to learn new facts or to answer quiz questions. They will learn all sorts of new things (and may just request a pygmy leaf chameleon as the subject of the next bedtime story).
9. A toy version of the wheels Daddy wished he had:
The John Deere Deluxe Lightning Wheels Tractor is perfect for your truck-loving preschooler! Motion-activated wheels light up and make tractor noises, in a low volume that Mom & Dad will also appreciate.
The licensed tractor from your favorite brand is also sturdy and solid, and I expect it to outlast M and give Baby Y many hours of fun too!
10. Large-scale coloring that you don’t have to find the space to hang afterwards…
The Crayola Color & Erase mat is perfect for kids who love to color big. I always loved giving M butcher block papers and poster boards to color on, but then he wants me to hang it… where exactly?
This fun coloring kit form Crayola is not only a fun hotel room activity, but it’s a more eco-friendly way to color too. Instead of going through stacks of paper and creating artwork you don’t know what to do with, the kids can color and wipe.
M’s favorite part of this is the cleaning – when he’s done coloring with enclosed markers, he uses the eraser and wipe cloth to clean off his work.
11. An early photographic experience
Start ’em young! With this camera designed especially for kids, children can hone their talents and take pictures of the things they love and moments they want to remember.
Do you recall the disposable cameras that were around when we were young? Yeah, this is nothing like that. This camera has dual facing lenses, games, parental controls and great side grips for little hands to hold the camera steady.
My kids take multiple selfies, videos and 153 pictures of the living room couch on my phone every day. Now, they can do it on their very own camera!
12. Expand collections they already have.
Certain toys, like magnatiles and LEGO, your child may already have, but can always use some more pieces. Giving them more of the same expands their collection and allows them to build bigger and better.
15 Non-toy Gifts:
Whether your kids have too many toys, or you just want to mix it up, these non-toy gifts for preschoolers will NOT compromise on their delight when they open them!!
13. The personalized book that teaches about where home is:
This insanely cool personalized book from Wonderbly not only features your child’s name in the book, but your home too. It’s a unique take on putting your child in the story – with magnificent illustrations too.
Your child will learn about a local landmark, see an aerial view (thanks to Bing maps) of her home, and learn about his address.
14. An experience that will create forever memories:
A trip to a local children’s museum, zoo, aquarium or another fun attraction is a great way to make memories! Your kids will learn, have loads of fun and definitely won’t want to leave. Check out Groupon for great deals in your local area. Many cities also offer family season passes to multiple locations for one all inclusive price.
15. Adorable outerwear that they’ll love almost as much as mom does:
With the cold weather on full-force, get this adorable capelet and vest to match up the little kids – even if you have multiple genders!
My kids are blessed with lots of toys, so often, when people ask me what to get them, I request clothing.
The buffalo plaid print on these are timeless classics. The fuzzy warm fleece is cozy and will delight the littles. My kids both love things that are “cozy” (it was among the first 20 words they both learned!)
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store features nostalgic gifts like this one, and you’ll find a huge selection of buffalo plaid so that you can get the match that best fits your family.
16. A hands-on learning and sensory play experience that’ll provide Mom with endless hours of relaxation time:
The Playfoam® Shape & Learn Alphabet Set is more than just a sensory play experience!
Kids can form the alphabet on included cards, teaching them alphabet recognition, and making it an excellent educational gift for preschoolers!
It comes with plenty of Playfoam, so you’re practically guaranteed to get your child’s favorite shade!
17. An educational and creative afternoon once a month –
Subscription boxes geared to preschoolers and children of all ages are all the rage right now. It can be hard to choose the right one for your child!
We love Kiwi Crate, specifically for its educational fun. We love anything STEAM related when it comes educating our children, and Kiwi Crate is a great way to go.
Once a month, a box will show up at your door with a different activity that combines science, art and creativity into a fun project. The Kiwi Crate projects encourage children to think, follow directions and come up with their own solutions. There are crates for all age ranges, starting from 24 months.
18. BiMonthly lessons about animals for a whole year!
A timeless classic, National Geographic Little Kids is a gift that encourages learning in a family-friendly format.
The beautiful color photographs, and various challenges will get kids excited about animals in every issue. The magazine is interactive, to get kids to question and think about what they are reading. Children can learn about animals they’ve never heard of before.
Each issue also contains collectible animal cards!
19. Anything featuring their favorite character
Gifts emblazoned with a favorite TV or movie character never fails to please. There are endless amounts of gifts you can get a preschooler who is obsessed with Paw Patrol or Elmo, or any other character they adore.
20. Monthly book deliveries to keep ’em reading!
The gift of reading is one of the most important foundations you can give to a child. As terrific as libraries are, I really like to own our books, so my children can enjoy them time and time again.
Another subscription box, Bookroo, is a really great way to add to your collection without overspending. Bookroo will send you three new board books or two picture books a month, and they are perfect for children up to the age of six.
21. The opportunity to watch science in action
Let your kids get up close and personal while watching the growth from caterpillar to butterfly. A butterfly kit, which typically includes a voucher for live caterpillars, is a fantastic way for children to learn about life, growth and change.
The creation and metamorphosis of a butterfly is one of the most beautiful transformations in nature, and a butterfly kit makes an unforgettable gift for any child.
22. It’s raining, it’s pouring!
While an umbrella might sound like a cop-out sort of gift, I assure you it’s not. Any child would love to have his or her own umbrella that is the perfect size and weight for them to carry on their own. I got this froggy umbrella for M last year, and it was a huge hit. Every time it rained, he would run to grab it and walk with it proudly.
23. A kitchen experience for your creative cook!
I’m all for encouraging helping in the kitchen, but what most kids really want to do is try new things on their own. Give your child a kids’ cookbook especially for them! This cookbook is geared especially to children with little to no experience in the kitchen and clearly outlines every step. It also has little educational tidbits throughout the book about food, cooking and kitchen safety.
Consider pairing the cookbook with some safe kitchen utensils specifically for them.
Turn this into the ultimate of gifts for preschoolers by including a one-on-one cooking lesson – with you!
24. Travel in style
Kids love to imitate adults, and that stands for traveling as well. Your child will love wheeling around his own little suitcase, perfectly sized to fit his stuff for an overnight at Grandma’s house.
25. The start of their savings account
The best way to educate your children about fiscal responsibility is starting from a very young age. This modern take on the classic piggy bank will encourage your child to save money, and look good doing it!
26. One on one bonding time
A child always knows that Mom and Dad love him, but when there are siblings around, it can be hard to get some personal attention. Give the gift of time! Take your child on an ice cream date! Just him or her, no siblings, and give all the attention you’ve got! Your child will cherish the memory far longer than the taste of the ice cream.
Your time is the best gifts for preschoolers you can give.
27. Craft supplies and more craft supplies!
Creativity and children go hand in hand. Nurture your child’s mind and artsy inclinations with all sorts of crafty materials, and let them go crazy! Think beyond construction paper and crayons. Stock a box with googly eyes, pom poms, pipe cleaners and whatever else you can think of!
What are your favorite gifts for preschoolers? Got any successes to add to the list? Comment below!