Every year when the Christmas ads come I start screaming inside a little bit. Not because I don’t like Christmas. I LOVE Christmas! The little scream comes from what it does to my kids, what it does to Christmas, and me not wanting a single other toy in our house. Don’t get me wrong. I love to give gifts to my kids. I love to see their little faces light up and watch them enjoy the gift they were given. But I want to be intentional about the things that come into our house and fill our kids time. This can be hard at Christmas and birthdays and any other holiday that now includes presents.This year I decided to put together a list of the best gifts for toddlers and preschoolers I know my kids would love and that would be meaningful in their life.
This isn’t your ordinary kids gift list with the most popular toys or best toys of the year.
But this is a list that was carefully crafted with items that will benefit your child in some way. You can use this list for yourself or share it with friends and family who may be getting a gift for your child as well.
We forget that kids don’t need a lot to be happy. In fact, research shows that having too much clutter will actually hinder them. (Read, “16 You Need to Purge the Toys and Why You Can’t Afford Not To“)
This list of great gifts for young kids is intended for children under 6, but many of the items will work for any age! These are items that won’t be discarded the week after they’re opened, don’t need batteries to make them fun, and will help your child develop at whatever stage they are at.
The best gifts for toddlers and preschoolers
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2. Wooden food
Any toy that provides endless amounts of imaginative play gets my vote. Children benefit greatly from toys that provide open ended play. It is easy for kids to come up with play ideas with play food because it is such a part of their daily life.
3. Cash register
Another great toy for open ended, cooperative play. Your child will learn communication skills and critical thinking playing with a cash register. This is a toy that will grow with your child as well.
4. Hape domino set
This is the perfect toy for your little builder. There is no limit to what your child can create with this set and the critical thinking skills he will learn will last a lifetime. This is not your ordinary domino set. Take a peak. It’s truly amazing!
5. Toy house
Young kids naturally play house. It is something familiar to them and easy to emulate. Kids love having a little playhouse to use in their imaginative play. This is a great toy for siblings as it encourages cooperative play and language development.
There are so many great options for kid friendly cameras now. Choose the one that is best for your kid and watch their creativity explode. This is the one my kids have.
Traditional puzzles, wood puzzles, brain teasers, they all make great gifts. Puzzles encourage critical thinking and spatial awareness. Kids if all ages (and adults) will benefit from doing puzzles.
8. Play kitchen
Another one of my ultimate favorites. A play kitchen provides hours of fun, promotes language skills, build cooperation, and gives kids a chance to play imaginatively. I prefer to stay away from play kitchens that make noise or do anything too fancy so my kids are the ones who do the thinking. This is a personal preference I have with all toys and is just something you should think about when deciding what’s best for your family.
9. Art easel
Let your child’s imagination go wild with an art easel. Most will come with a chalk board on one side and a white board on the other. Many will also have a place to connect rolls of paper so your child can get really creative.
10. Art supplies
A box of simple art supplies is perfect for any child. Depending on the age this mig include crayons, markers, paints, paper, scissors, colored pencils, modeling clay, or anything else you think might spark your child’s creativity.
You don’t have to get anything too fancy, but I do suggest choosing a keyboard that will grow with your child rather than a play keyboard that just sings songs when your child pressses a button. Giving your child an actual keyboard, even at an early age, will allow him to create his own sounds, learning cause and effect as well as all the other benefits that come from music.
12. Box of musical instruments
You could also do a box of smaller instruments such as shaky eggs, tambourines, harmonicas, rain sticks, bells and more.
If your child is old enough a stringed instrument might be good. A ukulele can be a fun one to start with or a child sized guitar. Your child will have fun learning what happens when he strums different strings. You may even want to add a few lessons to the gift or ask a grandparent to do that part.
14. Building kits
There are so many different building kits on the market for kids. Look for kits that don’t do all the work for your child. The simpler the better. Let your child be the inventor/creator. My kids love Legos, and so do I, but look beyond Legos at a few other building toys as well.
15. Board games
This is a great gift for the whole family. Look for games that are appropriate for your child’s age, but you can also find games that are a bit above them. You can play with your child for a while until they catch on. Kids often catch on quicker than you would expect of you make games a regular part of your lives.
Blocks are a classic gift and have been a popular toy for generations. There’s a reason they have never gone away. Blocks are a simple toy that can be played with independently or together, encourage creativity, and provide hours of fun.
17. Strider or regular bike
With the invention of balance bikes, your child can enjoy a bike from a really young age. Our 2 year old loves his strider bike and our other two love riding bikes because they started so young. A strider or regular bike would make an excellent gift for any kid.
18. Play doh
This is another classic gift. There are so many playdoh gizmos and gadgets out there that you could go nuts, but I think the simple cookie cutters, rollers, and scissors are all you really need (if anything).
19. Kid table
b spaces by battat
A child size table and chairs set can make creating much easier for your kids. Child size furniture helps kids feel more a part of the space and can foster pride in ownership and independence. There are so many great kid sized tables. Look for something durable that can withstand the play of kids. And be okay with the fact that it might get a bit messy or banged up as they create.
20. Music lessons or sports lessons
A gift doesn’t have to be something that can be opened or played with right away. In fact, this is a good lesson to teach your kids early on. Sometimes the best gifts are the experiences we get. Giving the gift of lessons will be both beneficial and ongoing.
21. Balance board
Balance boards are fun, physical activity gifts that kids of all ages will love. Get your kids up and moving ad have fun with them.
22. How to draw books
I remember having these books when I was a kid and spending hours learning to draw new things. There are ‘how to draw’ books for almost every age and ability level as well as any interest. Add a couple how to draw books to your child’s art supply gift or give it on its own. The step by step approach to learning how to draw builds confidence in kids and encourages them to keep trying.
23. Sports balls
Every child (and adult) can benefit from a gift that encourages movement and physical activity. Wrap up a few different types of balls for each of your kiddos.
These building toys are by far one of my favorites and all 3 of my kids love them. The creativity I see in my kids as they play with these magnetic blocks is amazing.
25. Play tools
Similar to the play food and kitchen, play toys allow kids to participate in ‘big people’ activities that they see you engage in. As an extra bonus, play tools develop fine motor skills that are essential for your child’s success in school.
26. Marble maze
Marble mazes provide more than just the average building toy. The great thing about a marble maze is the critical thinking and lessons in cause and effect. Your child may have to build and rebuild over and over until the marble takes the track it is intended to. This adds a new level to collaboration as well. Working together to make something happen is much more advanced than just playing together.
27. Pretend cleaning/household items
Not only will these toys help your child learn needed life skills, but it is also another toy, similar to the toy kitchen and tools, that promotes imaginative and collaborative play that emulates real life.
28. Jump rope
Another great physical activity toy that will improve your child’s gross motor skills and fitness level. Get yourself one too. Jump ropes are a great form of exercise for all ages.
29. Sketch book
You will be amazed with how creative your child gets when they are given plain white paper. Having a sketch book keeps all the papers together and is an easy way for your child to look back at their progress.
30. Fly around pogo jumper
This is a fun new toy that will provide hours of physical fitness play for your children. It is a modern pogo stick that can be used at a young age and it’s so much fun!
I am sure there are hundreds of globes you can choose for for your kids. Again, I recommend globes that don’t have too many crazy effects. A simple globe without any buttons or batteries is plenty for any child. Having a regular globe will encourage your kids to ask more questions and encourage you to interact with them as they play.
Kids love magnets. There are so many fun magnet kits that can be used for building or discovering. Make sure you watch for small pieces when it comes to your children. You don’t want anyone to accidentally swallow a magnet so be especially careful with this toy.
This might be a better gift from your older preschooler or above, but there are microscopes made for very young kids. Having a microscope will get you and your child outside exploring together and discussing all kinds of clever questions your child will come up with.
Balances are a fun learning tool. There are a variety of great balances for every age level. If you’re looking for a toy that develops higher level thinking in your child and gives them a great scientific and mathematical foundation, a balance will be the perfect gift.
I hope you found this list to be useful for you as you think about what gifts you might give your kids. I know it can be hard not to get swept up in the latest toy craze or the list a mile long you’ve been hearing from your kids, but ultimately, being purposeful about the gifts will bring you and your family more joy. Buying your child one or two meaningful gifts will be much more beneficial than buying tons of gifts just to fill the tree and the stocking. I truly hope you have a peaceful and joyous holiday!
If you came up with other ideas as you were reading this list, I would love to hear about them. Leave them in the comments below!
If you want to share this list with your family and friends, share it to Facebook and tag them or email them this link!