It's great to see toy companies making toys for preschoolers to learn logical thinking skills and foster creativity and engineering skills.
Our gift list for preschoolers, kids aged 2, 3 and 4, is aimed at young children. It is important to note kids develop at varying rates. We recommend you select toys you think will be appropriate for your kids, and not only look at age recommendations (see our note on age recommendations below).
Our list is in no particular order, and includes toys and games with a tech, coding, STEM and educational theme.
Code-a-PillarThe Code-a-Pillar by Fisher Price is a fun, interactive toy to introduce young kids to coding concepts. We've had a play and reviewed the Code-a-Pillar. It will grow with your child as they develop new skills and learn to use it in different ways. It's bright, and loud and travels far! It will be a popular addition to toy cupboards this year.
Read our Code a Pillar review.
Gears! Gears! Gears!The Gears! Gears! Gears! construction set is an old favourite and perfect of budding engineers. The plastic gears are brightly coloured and robust. This is another toy which your child can "grow" into as they develop new skills. This starter builder set will help your child develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. (My 6 year old still likes engineering with this set.)
Tegu Magnetic Wooden BlocksTegu bring traditional wooden blocks into the 21st century and allows kids to create with wooden blocks like have never done before. Each block contains a strong magnet, which allows you to "stick" wooden blocks together. We like the bigger set, as it includes wheels to make moving objects, but there are also smaller and less expensive sets available. It's recommended from 12 months up, so would be the type of toy you buy once and be used differently as your child develop. We love the design and use of natural materials.
Design & DrillDesign and Drill is another classic toy, which got a bit of an upgrade with a lights and sounds version - Brightworks. It's a preschool version of making pixel art. Young kids will learn about turning clockwise and anticlockwise, and follow a pattern by copying a design. The new Brightworks set, makes it less of a "boy" toy, and who says girls don't like to operate a power drill!
VTech Space StationThe VTech Go GO (USA) or Toot Toot (UK) range is fantastic for toddlers and preschoolers, with lots of learning features. We like the fact there is some "tech" included with the smart points. These sets will build on other sets and grow with your child. The Space Station is one of their new sets this year.
Read our review of the Construction and RC cars set here.
LeapFrog Interactive Learning System - Pre-K STEMThe LeapFrog Interactive Learning System is well design, specifically with young users in mind. The preschooler system, comes with a 12 page sample book packed full of educational and fun activities. Once you have the interactive learning system you can add more books, ranging from level 1 (preschool) to level 4 (1st grade). It's recommended for ages 2 - 4 years. We like the level 2 book - Pre-K STEM, which includes activities and games to do with science, technology, engineering, maths and teamwork. (Note this book doesn't come with the learning system and needs to be purchased separately.)
Robot Engineer KitKids First Robot Engineer is a build yourself kit for non-motorised models of robots. These kits by Thames and Kosmos are recommended from ages 3+ and teaches kids various engineering skills through a story book. We like the fact that their new kit this year is all about robots and you'll get a chance to build several different models from the 53 piece set. There are other themes in this range, including an automobile, aircraft and amusement park engineer kits.
Again this is another toy, which for a younger child will need adult support, but as they develop, could build and play independently.
Magformers Walking RobotMagformers are plastic, magnetic building shapes and this year they have a walking robot set. The set is compatible with other Magformers sets and includes an engine block which requires batteries to operate. It is important to note that although the robot is motorised, it's movement is small and slow. Kids enjoy building different patterns and structures with the magnetic shapes. This set is not recommended for kids under 3 years due to small parts. Magformers are another construction kit that comes out time and time again for play in our house.
Three Little Piggies GameWe love the games from Smart Games, which promotes logical, critical and problem solving thinking skills. The three little piggies game is a great set to get young kids into solving puzzles using a familiar story. It's a single player game and recommended from ages 3+. The Three Little Piggies include 48 different challenges to solve, helping kids go from starter to master. We have an older version on this game which is loved by kids and adults alike - some brilliant brain training!
A note on age recommendationsIn this younger age bracket, children develop at different rates. Something suitable for one 3 year old may be too advanced for another 4 year old. We've tried to select toys that can be used differently depending on your child's age, developmental stage and dexterity.
The games and toys included in our preschool list, is suitable for young children, but can also be enjoyed by older siblings. It is important for parents to gauge if your child is ready for a specific toy or gadget. The last thing you want is for a child to break a toy they are not quite ready to realise its full value. Our gift list for the next age range (6+) is coming soon.
For older kids, see our other gift guides: