9 Best Educational Toys for 3-year-olds to Promote Development

Preschool-aged children learn through discovery and exploration in their daily surroundings. Providing access to educational toys for 3-year-olds crates a natural teaching environment. This fosters developmentally appropriate situations where children encounter learning and discovery that promotes the development of cognitive, motor, social and emotional skills.

As your 3-year-old grows, also consider our recommended Developmental Toys for 4-year-olds.

1. Bath Letters and Numbers by Munchkin

Image Source: Munchkin

Turn bath time into learning time with Bath Letters and Numbers by Munchkin. Incorporate learning into your 3-year-old’s bath routine with colorful foam letters and numbers.

These foam toys float in the bath and cling to tub walls when wet. Then they come off easily when dry and leave no residue. With 26 letters and 10 numerals in six fun colors, there is plenty of opportunities for children to learn names of the colors, letters, and numbers.

Why We Recommend:

  • 36 colorful, floating letters and numbers
  • Sticks to bathtub walls when wet
  • Made of soft, durable, non-toxic foam
  • Introduce colors, letters, and numbers
  • Incorporates learning into daily activity

2. Dado Cube by Fat Brain Toys

Dado CubeDado Cube
Image Source: Fat Brain Toys

These educational toys for 3-year-olds and up are an exciting twist on classic building blocks. Dado Cubes are a set of 10 cubes scaled from 1 inch to 5 inches that nest, stack, and connect along slits in their edges. These unique blocks teach kids proportion, balance, structure, and color in a naturalistic teaching environment. Young imaginations engage with the slits in each block that interlock to create 3-dimensional structures.

You can construct vertically, horizontally, diagonally, or nest them together. Dado Cubes promote visual-spacial awareness and problem-solving skills through experimentation and play. These innovative blocks inspire art and STEM as kids explore architectural principals.

Why We Recommend:

  • Great STEM toy for preschool classrooms and home
  • Open-ended play for individual or cooperative learning
  • Improves fine motor skills, hand strength, finger dexterity, and coordination
  • Encourages visual-spatial skills, creativity, experimentation, planning, self-esteem
  • Nests for easy storage
  • Made of durable, BPA-free plastic
  • Developed, manufactured, and assembled in the U.S.A.

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3. MightyMind by LeisureLearning

Image Source: Mighty Minds

The innovation of Mighty Mind makes it a singularly amazing toy for 3-year-olds at home or school. This toy promotes the development of essential skills such as creativity, spacial awareness, logic, problem-solving, fine motor, and self-confidence.

Children can learn to solve these mind boosting puzzles before they ever learn to read. The brightly colored shapes can fit onto the shape card in various ways. These educational toys for 3-year-olds and up has received many awards, including Parents Choice Honor Toy, Teachers Choice Award, Dr Toys Best Vacation Toy, and more.

The sequence of numbered patterns gets increasingly difficult as children manipulate 32 geometric shapes and build pictures. The first 20 puzzles provide prompt and clues in the picture to assist a child in selecting the correct shapes, but the last 10 are without clues and are the most challenging of them all. Children can also get creative with their own designs using the 32 vibrant Mighty Mind colored shape tiles.

Why We Recommend:

  • Teaches kids how to build and solve puzzles.
  • Unique program designed to build a child’s confidence
  • No reading or language required
  • Distributed worldwide in 26 countries
  • Develops essential critical analytical thinking skills
  • Structured or open-play for individual or cooperative learning

4. Inchimals by Fat Brain Toys

Image Source: Fat Brain Toys

Inchimals by Fat Brain Toys take children on a mathematical safari adventure. These precisely-sized animal blocks help with learning math concepts such as measurement, numbers, addition, subtraction, and pre-algebra. These 12 beautifully crafted wooden blocks range from 1 to 12 inches in hight. Each features a different animal, inch line segments, written numerals, and representative dots corresponding to the actual hight of the block.

These fun, colorful blocks allow for measurement exploration and visual representations of addition and subtraction. The set comes with a write-on, wipe-off puzzle book to introduce pre-algebra concepts and balancing equations. Great for use in schools or at home for early math education.

Why We Recommend:

  • Multiple ways to learn and explore – structured and open-play
  • Introduce vocabulary – shorter, taller, hight, length, distance
  • Teaches addition and subtraction concepts
  • Stacking blocks promotes motor control
  • Encourages creative thinking, spacial reasoning, and dramatic play
  • 12 animal blocks and a write-on, wipe-off puzzle book
  • Use in home or classrooms

5.Robot Engineer (Level 1) by Kids First

Image Source: Thames and Kosmos

Level 1 Robot Engineer Kit by Kids First includes a storybook and 51 large, colorful plastic building pieces that are easy for small hands to manipulate. Children can construct robots with arms that spin while they learn about simple machines. Kids can have a blast constructing the simple, non-motorized robot models based on the robots in the included storybook.

Little Engineers can follow along with Ty and Karlie in the silly storybook as they build and repair robots and solve problems in a candy factory. The book and construction kit are a fun way to introduce simple engineering concepts to 3-year-olds.

Why We Recommend:

  • Introduces simple machines and gears
  • Develops STEM-related skills – science, math, visual-spacial, reasoning, and problem-solving
  • Engages children with simple engineering concepts
  • 53-piece building set
  • Durable Storage Case
  • 32-page storybook

6. Rhyming Words Match & Learn Puzzle

Image Source: Kaplan Toys

This box set of Rhyming Words Match & Learn Puzzles make great educational toys for 3-year-olds. The self-correcting puzzles have real-life pictures with the associated word underneath. Flip the pieces over and the associated word only is on the back for more advanced gameplay for 2 games in one.

The rhyming part of each word pair is highlighted in matching colors to help early learners identify correct rhymes. Children improve fine motor skills through manipulating the puzzle pieces. Pieces are large enough for little hands to grip and manipulate.

Why We Recommend:

  • Introduces rhyming words
  • Self-correcting puzzles
  • Fine motor skills
  • Real-life pictures and associated words
  • 2-in-1 game

7. 2-in-1 LeapTop Touch by LeapFrog

Image Source: LeapFrog

The 2-in-1 LeapTop Touch by LeapFrog is a touch-screen learning toy for preschoolers that transforms from a laptop-style device to a tablet. The screen flips to convert from keyboard to tablet mode. This computerized toy comes loaded with 26 fun animals that teach letter recognition and letter sounds. Five learning modes include ABCs, numbers, games, music, and messages.

Children can also have a blast pretending to be mom or dad sending emails on the computer. The 2-in-1 LeapTop Touch introduces basic computer literacy skills to young children in an age-appropriate and entertaining way. Children role-play typing on a laptop and tapping on a tablet to play fun games and activities that teach letter sounds, counting, and animals.

Why We Recommend:

  • Teaches Letters and Numbers
  • Encourages Social Skills
  • Makes learning fun with music and rhyme
  • Boosts basic computer literacy
  • Dramatic play and role-playing

8. Wooden Latches Board by Melissa and Doug

Image Source: Melissa and Doug

Keep your 3-year-old busy and entertained with the Wooden Latches Board for Melissa and Doug. Children can undo locks and latches to swing open the numbered doors. Fun pictures hide behind each door. Build fine motor skills while learning colors, numbers, animals and more with this educational toy.

Why We Recommend:

  • Promotes fine motor development
  • Introduces colors and numbers
  • Encourages problem-solving
  • Learning to open latches promotes self-help and daily living skills
  • Promotes independence and self-confidence

9. My Magnetic Daily Calendar by Melissa and Doug

Image Source: Melissa and Doug

Maintaining their own calendar gives children a greater sense of independence, self-reliance, responsibility, and control. Each day your 3-year-old can help post on My Magnetic Daily Calendar by Melissa and Doug. This calendar provides a visual facilitation to talk to your child daily about the day of the week, date, weather, and special events.

There’s even a space to post their moon which encourages open communication and emotional awareness. Preprinted magnets make updating the calendar simple and fun. There are even two dry-erase magnets to make your own custom tiles.

Why We Recommend:

  • Promotes independence and responsibility
  • Teaches calendar skills — days, dates, months
  • Teaches weather, seasons, and holidays
  • Promotes social-emotional wellness
  • Practice fine motor skills daily by moving the calendar pieces
  • Solid wood construction

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