During the holiday season I tend to get a steady stream of direct messages on Instagram asking for gift ideas for toddlers. Often the question is something similar to, “What is Sawyer getting for Christmas? I have no idea what to get my toddler!” Sawyer is currently three and a half, so I put together a short list of some fantastic ideas for three and four-year-old children! These are all toys we love! I spent a LONG time this year searching for items that would boost his creativity, problem solving, imagination, and active play. I’m not a huge fan of “fads” for toys because I think they are usually short-lived when it comes to kids actually playing with them for a long time. Therefore, you won’t find any Frozen or Paw-Patrol toys on my list. (There’s nothing wrong with those toys, but I want to share some gift ideas that maybe you haven’t thought of yet, as well as some classics that you might not have remembered!) I hope this helps in your quest to find that “perfect gift” for your three or four year old child, grandchild, niece, nephew, cousin, or friend! Here we go!
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STEM Toys for Imagination and Creativity
Pet Center Magnetivity Set by Melissa & Doug– WHY I LOVE IT: Not only do these building play sets encourage creativity and building skills for engineering, but they are perfect for boosting the imagination. Unlike traditional building toys, the sets come with people and animals that can be used for imaginative play after the scenery set is designed and built by the child. That means the fun doesn’t end after the building is over- the fun has only just begun! We chose the Pet Center for Sawyer’s first set, but they have tons of themes such as a fire station, house, school, hospital, safari, outer space, and more!
Budding Builders Tub by Kid K’Nex– WHY I LOVE IT: This tub of building materials promotes problem solving, critical thinking, imagination, and creativity. It’s the perfect STEM toy to add to your child’s collection. I love that it comes with eyeballs and some additional pieces that allow the child to create anything from a robot to an animal to a person! You can purchase larger sets, too, but we are starting out with the 50 piece set to see how he likes it. I actually purchased TWO of these tubs. One tub is already in my classroom and we will be using it as a Brain Bin toy. (You can learn more about my classroom Brain Bins by clicking here.)
Buzz N’ Cut Play Doh Set and Pizza Oven Play Doh Set by Play-Doh- WHY I LOVE THEM: Ahhh Play-Doh. It’s classic, right?! Sawyer can sit for a long time and play with play-doh. He loves it! Up until this point, I have only really purchased regular tubs of play-doh and a bucket of tools to use with them. This Christmas, I chose these two play-doh sets to add some “pizzazz” to our play-doh time! The Buzz N’ Cut Play Doh Set is ADORABLE! You turn the handle and watch the hair grow. Then, the kids can use the razor, scissors, and buzzer to style the hair. He is going to love it! The Pizza Oven is also precious. By turning the handle, the cheese is shredded, and the kids can use the special tools to add pepperoni and toppings to their little pizzas. I love the fine motor practice and creativity that these play-doh sets will encourage.
Our Toy Choice for Active Play
Eezy Peezy Monkey Bars Climbing Tower by Eezy Peezy- WHY I LOVE IT: This is a gift that isn’t exactly cheap. It sells for about $140. It’s our “big” gift for Sawyer this year. (We always seem to pick out one larger item- not necessarily in size but price. One year it was his kitchen. Another year it was his battery-powered car to drive around the sidewalk on.) I love it because of the active play he will get out of it. It will promote physical play and exercise- and the best part? It can easily be set up in our finished basement. We live in Ohio, which means it’s COLD in the winter! We have to play indoors a lot, and this toy will help Sawyer get ALLLL of that energy out this winter! It can also be set up outside in the summer. I should mention that I can’t stand large toys that take up a ton of room. I chose this specifically because while it is larger during play, it can break down and be packed away in the box when it is not in use. I’m so excited for him to be able to climb all over this during our long, snowy winter!
Classic Games for Cooperative Play
It can be hard to find board games that are easy enough for three and four year old toddlers to play! Games were a MUST on my list this year for Sawyer. Even though he goes to preschool and daycare and is doing great socially, I think all children can use extra practice in turn taking, cooperative play, sharing, and following rules. Games are a great way to do this and they are the perfect activity for quality family time! (You can learn more about how I use games in the classroom by clicking here.) Here are three that I picked out for Christmas:
Lucky Ducks Game by Pressman- WHY I LOVE IT: This is a simple memory game that is also adorable! Take turns finding the matching colors and shapes to collect the ducks.
Candy Land by Hasbro– WHY I LOVE IT: This is a classic game that I loved playing as a child. Sawyer is just getting into the right age to play this game. Matching the colors allows even non-readers to play the game with success.
Chutes and Ladders by Hasbro– WHY I LOVE IT: Like Candyland, Chutes and Ladders is another classic board game to add to a child’s game collection. It’s also a great game for teaching good sportsmanship skills. When a family member or friend has to slide down the game, it’s a great opportunity to teach little ones that we don’t always win at games, but rather, we play for fun!
Our Top Pick for an Educational Game
Little Genius Start Kit by Osmo- WHY I LOVE IT: As a teacher, it’s important to me that we are always working and developing Sawyer’s understanding of letters, sounds, and phonemic awareness. We actually purchased this Osmo set a little over a year ago, but I held onto it to give him this year because I felt he was too young last year. To use this Osmo set, you’ll need an iPad. If you’re not familiar with Osmo sets, they make your iPad incredibly interactive! In this kit, Sawyer will practice letter formation, letter sounds, and letter ID. I am so excited to watch him learn and engage with this set!
Bath Toys We Are Loving
Bunmo Suction Bath Toys by Bunmo- WHY I LOVE IT: It’s basically STEM toys for the bathtub! Does it get any better than that?! Kids can use the suction toys on the edge of the bathtub to build all kinds of creative designs and formations. When it’s time to get out of the tub, the suction toys get packed neatly in the bathtub storage case to be used the next time. I LOVE that Sawyer can build creativity and engineering skills during bath time!
Light Up Bath Toys by Punertoy- WHY I LOVE IT: First off, these are just simply adorable. They bring a whole new twist to the traditional floating bath toy! Dim the lights in the bathroom and watch the toys glow! Your toddler will love to use their imagination as they create all kinds of stories and scenarios with these glowing bath toys!
There you have it, friends! That is my 2019 list of toddler gift ideas for this holiday season! Of course, all of these would also be amazing birthday gifts, too! I hope you found some old favorites and some new ones, too! Feel free to share this post with your friends and family by pinning the image below to your Pinterest boards!