What Toys Do 3-Year-Olds Like?

What toys do 3 year olds like?

By the time kids are 3 they are beginning to get more into imaginative play, the best toys for 3-year-olds will fuel this newfound passion, and encourage their continued exploration of the world around them.

At 3 children are beginning to get much better at playing together rather than just alongside each other and they are increasingly able to ask more in-depth questions and follow more complex directions.

Role play toys are perfect for encouraging children to use their imaginations and practise language and vocabulary while also developing narrative thought. At 3 kids still love to mimic us so kitchen toys, doctors sets, vet sets, toolboxes etc are all fab toys for older toddlers.

Open ended toys that encourage creativity and allow children to build, explore and bring their ideas to life are also great at this age. Many toys they already have will simply be used in different ways, but also at three they are able to really get to grips with more complex open-ended toys.

Children at age three are also drawn towards small world play. They might love a toy farm and animals, train sets, dinosaurs, space ships, a dolls house or a castle. From about 2.5years and up children will start enjoying small world play and telling their own stories.

Pirates, animals, fairy’s and dinosaurs seem to be pretty universally popular with 3-year-olds, and the great thing with small world play is that you can set up these worlds with all sorts of materials you probably already have. Small world play is also a great opportunity for introducing sensory elements to play.

Best gifts for 3 year olds

If you are looking for a gift for a 3-year-old then picking something from one of the above three categories (role play, small world play, and open-ended toys) is a great place to start.

Here are a few of our top buys in each category:

Role play toys

  • A doctors set, vet set or dentist set. These make a wonderful gift that will be loved and played with for years. They are perfect for encouraging role play and are really compact so don’t take up huge amounts of space.
  • Play food or related toys. If you have a big budget then a kitchen or shop is obviously a fabulous gift, but there are numerous related role-play gifts for every budget. Ice creams, lollies, biscuits and cake always go down well. Every child should have a tea set. And children love mini versions of adult kitchen gadgets so they tend to really enjoy a toaster, coffee machine, smoothie maker or mixer.
  • Cleaning toys. This might seem like an odd gift for a child but you might be surprised how much they love them.
  • Tools or a workbench. These are a popular gift for 3-year-olds and combine role-play with practising fine motor skills.

Open ended toys

  • Tegu is one of our favourite options for 3-year-olds as the hidden magnets make them captivating in a way that other blocks just aren’t. The magnets also allow kids to build up as well as out so they can get even more creative with their inventions.
  • Grimms is beautiful for any age and the tactile, natural nature of the wood makes it perfect for stacking and building whilst activating the senses.
  • Trains or cars with wooden track sits somewhere between small world and open-ended, and ticks so many boxes when it comes to development. We also love the fact that it doesn’t matter how much train track to you have you can always add more and the adventures just get bigger and better making this a fabulous gift.

Small world play

  • Animal toys are great for small world play. A farm set makes a great gift or you can buy individual animals for a farmyard or other theme. Wild animals are a popular choice, kids love lions and tigers, and it can be a great way to start introducing them to the need to look after nature and protect the natural world.
  • Dinosaurs seem to rank pretty highly for 3-year-olds and they love small world dinosaur play. There are also lots of great books and days out that are dinosaur related so it’s a theme that can be built on
  • A dolls house, fire station, hospital, space station, pirate ship or castle. Here it really does help if you know what the child is most into as there is a limit to how many of these toys most families can fit in their homes.

Toys with educational value make for fantastic early learning tools. These toys are designed to catch your kids attention and keep them entertained for hours while providing a good developmental value.

Next up: Top educational toys for 3-year-olds.

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