Best Christmas Toys for 3-Year-Olds

Before you know it, your 3-year-old will be ready for more “big kid” toys—and may be forming Christmas wish lists based on their favorite TV or movie cartoon characters. Get ready for Disney princess and Marvel superhero and PJ Masks everything. Of course, that's not all that's out there. Take a look at these gift ideas that will keep your older toddler entertained for hours —and beyond.

Educational: With preschool either in session or just around the corner, your toddler can get a start learning early math, counting, and telling time with Melissa & Doug toys. Learning Resources makes plastic food sets that can help kids learn to count and sort while playing in their pretend kitchens. Thames & Kosmos makes STEM subjects accessible to preschoolers with its kid-friendly sets to play junior engineer and scientist. And you can encourage your little engineers to build whatever their imaginations come up with, using Magformers and Magna-Tiles magnetic tile sets.

Arts & Crafts: For generations, Play-Doh has been a favorite of kids, from young toddlers and up. With older toddlers, you can move from the canisters of different colors of clay to the more sophisticated play sets, which make use of different tools beyond the cutters and molds, and often tie in with, yes, their favorite characters or shows. For crafty kids, Alex also offers kits ranging from popsicle stick projects to paper airplanes.

Outdoor/Ride-On Toys: By age 3, your toddler is ready to try a number of different ride-on toys, from the old-school, fire-engine-red Radio Flyer trikes and the charmingly retro Italtrike tricycles to the whimsical PlasmaCar ride-ons and the popular Y Glider scooters. And if you want a flashback to your own childhood, check out Fisher Price's Power Wheels, which now include Jeeps, Mustang convertibles, and Harley Davidson motorcycles.

Stocking Stuffers: Here's a fun (and practical) add-on gift: Do-A-Dot spill-proof and washable paint markers for little hands. No more brushes and water cups to clean!

  1. Mom Tip:Now that your child is in the Pre-K set and beginning to navigate the world of school—and its lessons, rules, and peers—board games are the perfect way to practice some of those social skills. Best of all: You can get involved in the fun too. Many games have an educational component, allowing kids to learn colors, numbers, letters, and shapes. But when you get into the game with them, they will also be honing important life lessons in turn-taking, decision-making, teamwork, and sportsmanship. It is family bonding at its best, and age 3 is the prefect time to start. Cherise Kachelmuss found that The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game made for fun family game nights with her young boys.

    I am all about games that are not only fun for my husband and I, but that we can also play with our boys who are 3 and 4. Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel is one of those games. First off, the sturdy box it comes in actually acts as part of the game board, which is nice. There is no money to deal with or cards to read either, which makes it perfect for young kids. The object of the game is to fill your log with all five colored acorns to feed the hungry squirrels in the winter!

    To play the game all you do is give each player a log piece, which they have to fill with five acorns, dump all the acorns in the game box, and then each player takes turns, spinning the spinner to see what their move should be. The spots on the spinner are relatively simple: Pick an acorn of a specific color, Pick any 1 acorn, Pick any 2 acorns, Steal an acorn from another player, Skip your turn, and Lose all your acorns. You use adorable squirrel plastic tweezers, which are very simple and perfect for little hands.

    Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel is a game perfect for pre-schoolers to develop matching skills, develop fine-motor skills, social skills of taking turns, and strategic thinking skills. Kids are not only learning their colors, but learning decision-making as they pick which acorn they need and learn good sportsmanship when their turn is skipped. It really is a cute game perfect for both boys and girls. My boys love the squirrel tweezers the best!