Are you looking for the best educational toys for three year olds? Check out this master list that our kids LOVE. You won’t believe how perfect these presents are for birthdays and holiday gifts.
I am ALWAYS looking for the best educational toys for three year olds. When my kids hit the preschool and kindergarten stage, the toys need to adjust to give an educational benefit to what they are playing.
There are so many stupid crazy toys out there that break in 5 minutes, that it is hard to find smart, lasting, educational toys that really are the best for three year olds, and even toddlers through five-year-olds.
DIsclaimer: We have a LOT of toys at our house, and have tried so many. We have the classic wood toys and the loud plastic toys. The ones listed below are the BEST OF THE BEST. I’m not including toys that my kids are indifferent to (like the favorite magnets tile toy, magna-tiles), just because they are popular. These are definitely only ones that I recommend 100%.
Keep Reading: 12 best FAMILY gifts for Holiday 2023 ✅
- Top Rated Toys For 3-Year-Olds
- Toys for Gross Motor Skills
- Toys for Fine Motor Skills
- Toys for Early Literacy And Language Skills
- Subscription Learning Toys for Math And Science
Best educational toys for three year olds
Let’s talk about how toys can help while you work from home. Let’s talk about your toy budget.
When I talk about childcare budget, I’m not just talking about full-time care daycare budget. I mean anything you can put aside per month to help with your children. And at the end of the day, our budget decides a LOT.
Even if you can swing only $50/month, SET THAT ASIDE and use it for activity box subscriptions, craft materials, new toys, or baby equipment…anything to help you out.
Ask yourself what season are you in? If your kids are home, invest in toys and activities to make that easier. Can you get a 10 year old neighbor to help in the afternoon? Spend $20/wk on that. Lean into the season you are in.
When I buy new gear for my baby that will occupy a lot of time, my favorite phrase is “It’s cheaper than a babysitter!” This is a really easy way to get through another month, if you are living month to month.
This budget (even if its just a tiny amount) will give you freedom to get help.
Here are my best educational toys for three year olds that I recommend.
Top Rated Toys For 3-Year-Olds
1. Hape Wooden Busy City Train Rail Set
The #1 toy set that my kids play EVERY DAY is the Hape Wooden Busy City Train Rail Set. This was our first wooden train set, and we still play with these pieces constantly. This set has the best combination of straight pieces, bridges, train cars, and additional durable fun train pieces that my kids have played from when they were 2-year-olds to 6 years old. We keep this in a bin under my son’s bed, but it lives most of the time in our living room. DEFINITELY RECOMMEND.
2. Hot Wheels Race Case Track Set
If you were to ask me what is the #1 toy for multiple kids, all genders, and that lasts forever, I’d say this Hot Wheels Track Set. This track set is easy to store, has endless possibilities (with different cars and trucks), and holds my kids interest for months on end. (TIP: you don’t need the fancy Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars sets that have shooters, etc. All you need is this straight track for HOURS of entertainment. We play with this 100 times more than the sets we’ve bought.)
It’s the toy that we keep in our living room, take on trips, and play at the grandparents houses. A fabulous gift is this track set and this travel case that holds track, a car shooter, and a few cars. We take this everywhere!
3. LEGO DUPLO My First Number Train
We are a BIG Lego family. Both of our kids started building legos as 1-year-olds, and now they build regular Lego kits that are geared towards much older kids. These are the best toys for hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills, and teaching little hands to work with small pieces. Also, I love teaching them the skill of following instructions.
This My First Number Train is one of the first lego sets we bought our kids, and they love it so much! Even now as a 5-year-old, my daughter still plays with it.
4. Assorted Miniature Wild Animal Toys
We have a HUGE bag of these tiny animals, and I usually add to them every Christmas by adding a bunch to their stockings. We love the farm animals, wild animals, pets, etc. These are the best addition to any creative play – added to building blocks, train tracks, car tracks, barn or stable games, or even just some cardboard boxes. Seriously the best!
(TIP: give them with the dinosaurs below for the most fun animal adventure!)
5. Calico Critters
One of our favorite toy series that we have is the Calico Critters set. We have so many of their play sets – from the grocery store, the cars and buses, the different rabbit and koala families, and so many more! We gave our daughter her first set when she was two years old, and now she still plays with them at age 6.
6. KidKraft Vintage Wooden Play Kitchen
We gave this wooden play kitchen to our daughter when she was two, but it still is one of the number one toys that our children play with now when they are three and five. It is the best for creativity, pretend play, role play, and the quality of this kitchen is amazing! It’s such a great asset to our play area. One of my top recommendations!
7. Dinosaurs Toys with Storage Box
We have about 4 different sets of these large plastic dinosaurs, and they continually give my kids entertainment and prove their educational value. My kids with play with these with their trains, their blocks, dolls, and their little baby animals, and I can’t recommend them enough. I love it when my son says, “I want to take my Ankylosaurus to bed with me!” We love these so much!
Toys for Gross Motor Skills
8. The Original PlasmaCar
Our garage is full of bikes, scooters, and other riding toys. But this PlasmaCar is by far my kids’ favorite riding toy HANDS DOWN. It is perfect for all ages – from 2 to 8 year olds. My kids as three-year-olds love it the best. It is easy to ride, and has no pedals. It is FAST and my kids love spinning out with it. It is great for inside or outside. My kids take them to the park, and every kid there wants to play with them.
If you are looking for a riding toy outside, the PlasmaCar will be their favorite!
9. Stomp Rocket The Original Ultra Rocket Launcher
My daughter asked for this Stomp Rocket toy for years before we bought it. We finally gave it to her as a birthday present, and my kids still play with it years later. It’s a huge neighborhood cul-de-sac hit, and is the most simple surprising toy for kids. We have also given this as a birthday present many times to younger kids and it’s a great present for an old girl birthday party. We love this outside toy and it’s one of my top picks for gifts!
Toys for Fine Motor Skills
10. Melissa & Doug Scissor Skills and Tape Activity Books Set
This scissor skills and tape activity book from Melissa & Doug is so fantastic. My daughter got this when she was three, and she keeps asking me if there are more of these activity books. They far surpass any coloring book or “preschool activity book” that we have bought. The scissor activities are so clever (cut out a pizza and all the toppings!) and the tape book is amazing to sharpen any kid’s fine motor skills. You can use markers and crayons with these, but you don’t need them. They come with all the scissors and tape you need. This pack is also the best gift idea for kids!
11. PAW Patrol Super Sticker Fun! (Paw Patrol) Paperback
My daughter is obsessed with sticker puzzle books. They are activity books where the child places stickers in a puzzle background to show the full picture. They are so much more fun than regular sticker books!
We have bought at least 5 sticker puzzle books, and this Paw Patrol Sticker Fun book was the best by far. The stickers aren’t too small for three-year-old, and are exciting to put together. Amazing for fine motor skills!
Toys for Early Literacy And Language Skills
12. VTech® Touch and Learn Activity Desk
I don’t know about you, but my kids love crafts and learning activities. They sit at this desk for HOURS. My kids pull this up to my desk and say “I’m doing my learning, mom. I’ll talk to you later!”
The Touch and Learn Activity Desk Deluxe is an interactive desk and includes activity pages to learn colors, the alphabet, animals, parts of the body, and so much more. As a mom, I’m especially thankful for the writing pad that teaches the correct direction to write each letter. My kids learned so much with this!
If you are looking for a play and learning desk to set up near where you work, I really recommend this Touch and Learn Activity Desk!
(To see all my favorite VTech educational toys for three year olds, check out my post here.)
13. Melissa & Doug See & Spell Wooden Educational Puzzle
We have had TONS of ABCs puzzles, games, matching toys for shape recognition, but this Melissa & Doug See and Spell wooden puzzle has been the best far. The wooden boards are double sided, have indents for the letters, and can be used for many games. The puzzle is simple, but holds my kids’ attention for hours. I totally recommend!
Subscription Learning Toys for Math And Science
14. KiwiCo Subscription Boxes
We have used KiwiCo for years for both our kids. It’s an excellent monthly learning subscription that makes our lives so much better.
Every month my kids get an age-appropriate activity box that has 3-4 craft/activities that uses the STEM process (science, technology, engineering, math) to give you smart, hands-on activities to do with your child to promote imaginative play. They have awesome boxes that are age-appropriate for all ages.
You can even get just ONE BOX (no subscription necessary.) Just purchase one box and put it under the tree! It’s the perfect holiday surprise that your kids can create by themselves.
I also love keeping all the previous boxes so I have a supply of activities I can rotate year-round. I keep all her old activities in an organized plastic box and pull out one or two a week. (“Do you want to do your doctor kit or dinosaur matching game this week?”)