Toy Experts Reveal Top Holiday Toys that Inspire, Educate Preschoolers
Preschoolers are ready to take on a new type of play. Toys for our kids ages 3 to 5 years old not only encourage imagination and role play — they also provide opportunities for exercise and expressing their adventurous spirits. Toys in this age group should provide emotional and social intelligence through art, music, language, and social skills. They should develop hand-eye coordination skills with detailed active play, and encourage social interaction with others in competition or shared role playing. Technology toys seem to be at the forefront, enhancing early knowledge of computers and programming through not only robot toys but ones that have music and digital imaging. Preschool toys also should prepare your child for school, supporting math, language, writing, and science skills and giving them a sense of accomplishment. Toys that feature music, arts and crafts, and teamwork help to build their self-esteem.
Toy Insider has combed through hundreds of holiday toys that tick off all of these boxes to select their hottest 2017 holiday toy picks for preschoolers. (Have younger children, check out our list of hottest TI picks for infants and toddlers!) For children ages 3 years and older, there’s the WowWee Elmoji Junior Coding Robot Toy, an early-learning robot that introduces kids to pre-coding skills using the language of visual emojis, featuring Elmo and his friends. They can build problem-solving and sequencing skills while they explore numbers, music, and more using the free app. Elmoji also reacts to physical stimulation, such as tilting and shaking with sounds and animations on his LCD screen. The Cubetto Playset includes colorful blocks powered by a coding language that teaches the basics of computer programming and sharpens STEM skills without using a screen. Through a series of maps and stories, children can create sequences of instructions using the blocks placed on a control panel. For more hands-on aspiring filmmakers 4 years and older, Stikbot Movie Set playsets create themed, pop-up movie scenes with two 3-D sets. Stikbots are easy-to-pose figures with built-in, suction-cup hands and feet that can stick to flat surfaces. Kids can use the Stikbot Studio app to snap photos and stitch them into a film. Combine James Bond with Alien and you’ve got Ben 10 Deluxe Omnitrix Role Play, ideal for children ages 4 years and older. It will open up their world to alien superpowers by transforming into one of Ben 10’s aliens. This watch has more than 100 alien phrases and motion-activated sound and light effects, and features an adjustable Velcro strap. Just turn the dial to choose an alien, and press the dial to begin play.
For older techno enthusiasts there’s Play-Doh’s Build-a-Bot Fox Set. Intended for children ages 5 years and older, the set contains everything kids need to build their own bot, including a full sheet of stickers and a “birth certificate.” There are three designs to choose from — a bunny, a fox, or a dino. The parts are interchangeable so kids can create unique characters while they learn basic STEM skills. Marbles will be all the rage, courtesy of Fat Brain Toys’ Bamboo Builder Marble Run. It features handcrafted, carbonized tracks; colorful bamboo cylinders; and sustainable, wood-powder spirals. The 127-piece set also includes chimes to make music as the marbles roll. It comes in four sizes — 78 pieces, 119 pieces, 127 pieces, and 168 pieces. Go big or go home, right? Barbie is so much more than a pretty face, and this proves it. Thames & Kosmos’ Barbie Fundamental Chemistry Set, best for children ages 4 years and older, puts your child in the middle of a portable science lab with the tools and materials they need to learn chemistry and physical science. There are six safe potions and concoctions to experiment with, each demonstrating important scientific principles. For budding architects ages 5 years and older, there’s LiquiFuze Play Blocks. It’s a building system that features play pieces to construct towers, cars, or a miniature playground in three dimensions. Kids can fuse them together by adding water. If your child loves horses, the Blue Ribbon Champion Deluxe Horse for ages 4 years and older should be on your holiday list. These detailed horses feature whinny sounds, movable heads, textured manes and tails for hair play, and detachable saddles. Each horse comes with 15 horse-care accessories, including a cup, a wooden case, and a handle brush.
Any interest in mechanics? Your preschooler may need Just Play’s Cars 3 Mack Mobile Tool. It’s sure to please all Cars fans ages 3 years and older. Based on the film from Disney and Pixar, this set comes with a Lightning McQueen vehicle and a large Mack that opens to reveal a workshop with 24 play tools and pieces, custom parts, and tool storage. Dancers and choreographers can get their technical groove on with Dance Code featuring Disney Princess Belle. Kids ages 5 years and older can learn simple coding techniques, such as block coding and connect-the-dots, to create and choreograph dance sequences for the Belle doll through an app. There are three modes of play, more than 100 phrases, and seven songs. After they’ve exhausted their brains, it’s time for exercise with the Fisher-Price Think & Learn Smart Cycle. Like their parents, they can multitask while biking. As they pedal through virtual worlds and games on a tablet or the TV, they learn games full of kindergarten readiness, such as key math, STEM, and language concepts. Click here for a full list of holiday toys for preschoolers that will inspire and educate. Don’t forget to SHARE this list with other parents getting a head start on holiday toy shopping!