Toy Experts Reveal Top Holiday Toys That Inspire, Educate Preschoolers
Preschoolers are ready to take on a new type of play. Toys for kids ages 3 to 5 years old not only encourage imagination and role play, but also provide opportunities for exercise and expressing their adventurous spirits. But there are so many options. How do you know which toys preschoolers will love and learn from?
Toys for 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.
Technological 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 check all of these boxes, and has selected its hottest 2018 holiday toy picks for preschoolers. (Have younger children? Check out our list of hottest TI picks for infants and toddlers!) Below are the most educational, inspiring, and hottest toys that preschoolers will love.
Some parents probably remember reading such beloved Eric Carle classics as The Very Hungry Caterpillar when they were younger. Well, the book has come full circle; not only did the book just celebrate a 50-year anniversary, but now the brand is bringing insects into your home — literally! The Very Hungry Caterpillar Butterfly Growing Kit allows kids to observe the butterfly life cycle up close. It comes with five baby caterpillars and everything your preschooler needs to get them growing! Suitable for kids ages 4 years and older.
Puzoodles Puzzle Pets are collectible food and animal mash-up characters that kids can build using easy snap-together pieces. Each Puzoodle puzzle — there are eight different characters to choose from — includes easy-to-follow instructions. Kids will love to carry them around, display them, and take them apart to reconstruct over and over again.
Have a little scientist on your hands? Check out the Kids First Coding & Robotics Science Experiment Kit from Thames & Kosmos. Winner of a Parents Choice Gold Award, this kit promotes Early STEM learning by offering an introduction to the fundamentals of coding and robotics in a way that kids grades K-2 can digest. The 64-page experiment manual offers coding lessons and building exercises in a story-based format. Bonus: No software, apps, or smart devices are required!
Calling all little explorers! GeoSafari Jr. Talking Globe Junior is designed specifically for younger children. The talking globe introduces kids to continents, countries, languages, and fun facts in two modes — explorer and game. The 12-inch globe will help your little one gain an appreciation for cultures, countries, and people all around the world. The game mode is suitable for one to three players.
When it comes to toys that are great for those on the go, the LeapFrog Go-with-Me ABC Backpack is giving other manufacturers a run for their money. Available in two colors, this little backpack includes 26 letters — which fit into interactive letter spaces for your little one to explore the alphabet — a write-and-erase board, and games, too! Letters show up on an LCD screen, and kids can hear the letter name, an example of an animal that begins with that letter, and more. Best for kids ages 3-6 years old.
Give kids the best of both worlds with the Fisher-Price Think & Learn Rocktopus. A musical toy that teaches math, too?! Yes, please! The Rocktopus includes 15 musical instruments, five musical styles, and three modes of play — math, music, and game. The Rocktopus responds to each musical instrument as kids insert or tap them, meaning kids are in control of their musical creations! Parents can download a free companion Rocktopus app to create music videos, too.
Kids can trigger a colorful bubbling reaction to reveal one of 35 Beaker Creatures in this Beaker Creatures Liquid Reactor Super Lab. It includes two reactor pods with mystery Beaker Creatures inside, too. Kids can use the two pumps to send water through the tubes and into Pod, filling the center with bubbles. As the bubbles disperse and the pod melts away, they’ll uncover the Beaker Creatures. Included classification cards can be used to identify the mysterious creatures and their planets. This toy will help your kids learn real science with the help of a working lab and a bunch of amazing experiments just waiting to be started.
With Gears! Gears! Gears! Machines in Motion, kids get a toy that really moves! (Get it?!) Kids can be the engineers of their own playtime thanks to open-ended building activities. Using the instructions, they can make different machines and vehicles using a wrecking ball, chains, pulleys, and wheels. Or, more adventurous kids can put the instructions away and bring their own creations to life! With 116 pieces included, the possibilities are almost endless.
Kids will be excited to learn with the LeapStart 3D Interactive Learning System. The system, designed for kids ages 2 to 7 years old, features 3-D-like animations that help bring the educational activities to life. It’s compatible with more than 25 LeapStart books, each containing more than 30 activities. The system includes a stylus and a sample book for preschool through first grade.
You haven’t seen a marble run like this one before. The 62-piece Marble Palooza from B. Toys features 11 marbles and flashing lights, and the frog’s eyes even move as the pieces swirl around! It’s easy to assemble — and reassemble — into a bunch of different configurations, and it’ll help your preschooler develop their creative thinking and fine motor skills, as well as cause and effect reasoning. Marble Palooza is suitable for kids ages 3 years and older.
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!