The average 3-year-old boy is an interesting beast. He can be such a complicated combination of hugs and hits, speed demon and foot dragger, knowledge sponge, and Netflix zombie. While that capriciousness can be incredibly frustrating for day-to-day parenting, it can actually be a blessing when it comes to purchasing gifts for your little man. He’ll love pretty much anything you get!
Still, you don’t want to just select random items all willy-nilly. There’s nothing worse than spending money on something just so it can sit in your house and take up space. That’s why we’ve selected 25 sure-fire gifts guaranteed to entertain and enrich the 3-year-old boy in your life.
Our Favorite Toys for 3-Year-Old Boys
|OUTDOORS TOY||LEARNING TOY||IMAGINATION TOY||CREATIVE TOY|
Things to Consider Before You Buy
Whenever you purchase a gift for anyone, there are a lot of factors to consider. But when the recipient is a preschool-aged boy, those considerations become even more important and numerous. For the sake of brevity (and your sanity), we’ve selected just three particularly important ones for you to keep in mind as you shop: Longevity, the cost-to-use ratio, and the mess factor.
Preschool-aged children are as constantly changing as they are constantly moving. Their favorite cereal today may be “Ew, yucky!” tomorrow, and you will be expected to keep up with that shift of opinion (and many others). So as much as it is possible, you need to find toys and games that have staying power. Long-lasting and well-loved gifts tend to be those things that can be used in different ways, those that can involve friends or family (but don’t necessarily have to), and those that are just plain fun. And perhaps most importantly for a rapidly growing and evolving 3-year-old, a good gift should be able to grow with him so that he can enjoy it for years to come.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money on a gift for a child to love it. Sometimes the most-loved toys are the cheapest (like a large cardboard box). However, sometimes it’s worth it to spend a little more money to get a nicer, larger, or more complex toy you know your child will love. In the end, the decision of whether or not to buy something comes down to the following question: Is the cost worth the use your child will get out of it? That can be a difficult question to answer, but again longevity comes into play. If an item costs more money but will provide years of use, it’s probably worth it. The only more important advice is this: Don’t blow your budget! No toy, game, or device is ever worth that.
This is something that has started to become more and more important to me as I have had more children. It’s inevitable that if you have kids and they have toys, you will have toys all over your house. It’s just part of this stage of life. However, the problem is made infinitely worse when those toys are a bunch of tiny plastic things that together make up one cool toy but separately just blanket your carpet and lie in wait for unsuspecting feet. And let’s face it, the pieces are never all together in one place. So while puzzles and toy sets with lots of pieces do have their place, try to avoid having too many of them–for the sake of your sanity.
Active/Outdoor Toys for 3-Year-Old Boys
If you’ve spent any time with a 3-year-old boy, you know how much energy they have. These toys help to burn some of that energy and help keep that little body healthy.
Retrospec Cub Kids Balance Bike
It’s likely that by age three your little one is getting too old for one of those toddler tricycles but isn’t quite ready for a real bicycle. If so, a balance bike is the perfect intermediate choice. It helps prepare your child to eventually ride a real bicycle by improving his coordination, balance, and confidence. Plus it’s just fun to glide along. It’s a win-win!
This particular balance bike is designed for children from 20 months to 5 years old, so it has an adjustable seat and handlebars. It requires little assembly and no maintenance, and its tires are air-free so they can’t go flat. With 18 different color combinations to choose from and a certification from the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission), both kids and parents are sure to love this bike.
Up your child’s the-floor-is-lava game with this set of river stones inspired by stepping stones in a river. As the popular game goes, one must jump from stone to stone without touching the floor. Each of the six triangle-shaped “stones”–three large and three small–is actually made from plastic, and the sides of each triangle vary in steepness to make the game more difficult.
These stones have rubber material on the bottom to prevent slipping and/or floor damage, and they can handle up to 220 pounds. As your child builds various courses for himself, he can increase the level of difficulty for an added challenge. As he leaps from stone to stone, he will improve his jumping skills, motor planning, coordination, balance, and ability to judge distances.
GoBroBrand T-Ball Set
Baseball is America’s pastime, and it can be your son’s, too, with this cute little T-ball set. In addition to the base, which is adjustable to fit your child’s height, this set comes with a 22″ bat and six hollow plastic balls. That means no chasing the ball after every hit!
Your child’s motor skills and hand-eye coordination will improve as he practices hitting the ball farther and farther. And when practice is over, the set can easily be broken down and even hung on the wall for out-of-the-way storage.
aGreatLife Huge Rainbow Kite
Never underestimate the hours of fun an old-fashioned kite can provide for a child, even in this digital world. This large 42-inch rainbow kite is made of durable fabric material that is bright and beautiful. It is designed with kids in mind, so it’s easy to assemble and a breeze to fly (See what I did there?). The kid-friendly handle boasts a 50-meter string that allows for high flying.
Specifically designed for stability and easy to launch in nearly any amount of wind, this kite is perfect for a family outing at the park. Your child will experience the thrill of success as he helps launch the kite into the air and then holds the handle himself as the kite soars through the air. It will also provide a great opportunity to discuss the science behind kite flying, if that’s your thing.
Fidget Toys Set
While this set is particularly helpful for children with attention, sensory, or anxiety issues, it is also a great option for young kids when they need to play quietly or calm down from a tantrum. The flipping, squeezing, stretching, and, well, fidgeting that your child does with these toys can have a very calming effect. The 22 different pieces are also good for building fine and gross motor skills.
Included in this set are nine different types of fidgeters, from a snap-and-click snake, two flip chains, and six stretchy strings to a stress ball, a peek-a-boo squeeze bean, and a liquid motion timer. The set comes with a storage bag, making it easy to take to appointments, to church, on long car drives, or on an airplane.
Liberry Bean Bag Tossing Game
This unique take on the classic bean bag toss is sure to provide years of backyard fun for the whole family. Instead of trying to toss the bags into a hole, players throw them at the five pins. When a pin is hit, it swings up to rest on the bar above. The person or team with the most hits wins.
In addition to just being fun to play with family or friends, this game also helps with children’s hand-eye coordination as well as planning and motor skills. It is more difficult than the traditional bean bag toss game, which makes it more interesting and less likely to be abandoned after a few uses.
Best of all, this game can be played outdoors when the weather is nice or indoors when it’s raining or cold. Hooray for all-year active entertainment!
Amicool RC Cars Stunt Car
A race car that does cool tricks is many boys’ idea of the perfect toy. This particular one is small, making it perfect for littler hands. The remote is also small and is easy to use after a bit of fiddling and practice.
Measuring at just 5.9″ x 6.3″ x 2.8″, it’s surprising what this little remote control car can do. It can go forward, backward, left, or right. It can rotate 360 degrees both clockwise and counterclockwise and do 180-degree flips on both sides. Its flexible, bumpy-textured tires boast a strong grip and work well indoors and outdoors on nearly any surface.
This car moves at 7.5 mph and is able to climb inclines of up to 45 degrees. It is also equipped with anti-crash tires and is shockproof. Its battery-operated power allows for about 20 minutes of continuous drive time, and it is recommended you use rechargeable batteries to save money.
Fostering creativity in children is important even when they are very young. It helps with brain development in 3-year-olds as well as improving dexterity. Plus, creative play is a lot of fun for kids!
ALEX Discover Ready, Set, School Craft Kit
This awesome crafting set doubles as a preparation kit for school. Its 15 worksheets and three dry-erase books help your child with letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. The eight crayons, two stencils, 179 stickers, and pair of safety scissors will help with their fine motor skills as they create.
There are 77 pieces in this kit, including step-by-step instructions with illustrations. With so many different activities at varying skill levels, this set will grow with your child until he is ready to start school–and maybe even after! The included shoe lacing and tying activity alone is bound to last him until kindergarten.
Melissa & Doug Scratch Art Rainbow Mini Notes
This simple set of notes will actually keep your child entertained for hours. With 125 sheets to doodle on, your child will have ample opportunities to express himself. Each note is covered with black matte that reveals rainbow colors underneath when scratched. This set includes a wooden stylus for just that purpose.
Whether your child is working on writing his name, drawing cool pictures, or simply scribbling at random, he will gain valuable practice with his pencil grip and fine motor skills, both of which will help him as he progresses through preschool and eventually into kindergarten.
Relevant Play Mad Mattr Super-Soft Modelling Dough
When it comes to modeling dough, there are many good alternatives to the popular Play-Doh and kinetic sand options, such as this soft modeling compound. Like both Play-Doh and kinetic sand, it can be used to form all kinds of unique creations. But unlike Play-Doh, it doesn’t dry out. And unlike kinetic sand, it doesn’t lose its shape over time.
This mess-free dough sticks only to itself, so it’s easy to clean up. It’s also non-toxic, wheat-free, and gluten-free and comes in eight colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, teal, purple, and pink. Your child will likely find it calming to squish, roll, and shape the dough, and he will strengthen his hands and improve his motor skills at the same time.
Glokers Dot Paint Markers and Coloring Book
My 3-year-old son isn’t particularly interested in traditional coloring, and I think a lot of it has to do with his inability to do it very well. He does, however, love using these dot markers. They are easy for his little hands to grip, and their ink dries quickly. The tip of each dauber is a large sponge that doesn’t dry out and makes a perfect circle wherever your little one places it.
This particular set of markers includes five colors–red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. It also comes with a 25-page coloring book composed of 13 paint-by-color pages and 12 pages with white dots that your child can color in any way he chooses.
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Jumbo Cardboard Blocks
For preschoolers, half of the joy of building something is being able to destroy it with great flourish. And as fun as it is to do with small wooden blocks or Duplos, it’s definitely the most fun when what you’re destroying is nearly the same size as you. That’s why these jumbo building blocks are so fun. They are lightweight and easy to stack–and knock over.
This set of 40 blocks includes bricks in three different sizes. The largest blocks, which measure 12″ x 6″ x 3″, can actually hold up to 150 pounds of weight! Your child will love creating scenes for his pretend play, and using them will get him up and moving, making them a great option for those winter days when you can’t head to the park for some exercise.
Kicko Make-a-Zoo Animal Sticker Sheets
This sticker set is a great way for non-artistically inclined kids to still have the joy of creating something. This pack includes 12 sheets with various animals on them–elephants, giraffes, lions, and monkeys–as well as eye, nose, mouth, eyebrow, eyelash, and accessory stickers. Your child can easily mix and match all of the stickers to create unique, silly faces for the different animals.
The sheets themselves are rather small, and the stickers can only be used once, making these a good option as stocking stuffers or party favors. And once they’re made, you can just throw them away! I mean, you can keep them forever. Because your baby made them.
It’s never too early to start preparing kids for school. Preschool activities that introduce simple math, reading, and planning skills are important for young children. These STEM and Learning toys for 3-year-olds are a great introduction to these needed abilities.
Peaceable Kingdom Snug as a Bug in a Rug Game
Games are a fun way to teach children important skills, such as patience, turn taking, problem solving, and planning ahead, and this game from Peaceable Kingdom also adds shapes, colors, numbers, counting, and matching to the concepts learned. Designed for two to four players, this cooperative board game requires players to sweep all the cute, colorful bugs under the rug before the three ugly stink bugs arrive.
The game includes a board with a built-in spinner, one die, 24 colorful bugs, and three stink bugs. The instructions even provide three different play options ranging in difficulty, so the game can grow with your child.
VTech Little Apps Tablet
For better or worse, kids love electronics. And while you could give your preschooler your own tablet or phone with fun apps on it, it’s nice to have a more kid-friendly device designed just for him. There are many options to choose from, but this version from VTech is perfect for young kids up to age 5.
With help from Cody the Smart Cub, your child will learn letters, words, numbers, counting, basic math, matching, and more through the 12 learning activities, each of which has progressive levels. There is also a calendar, a camera, and a piano for playing music.
And while it’s perhaps not as exciting for kids as it is for adults, this tablet has both volume control (Hallelujah!) and an auto-shutoff function to save battery.
Fisher Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar Toy
In today’s world, coding is an incredibly useful skill for any child to learn at least the basics of. So teach ’em while they’re young! This motorized toy teaches the preliminary skills needed for coding by having children connect eight different segments in a variety of combinations to make the caterpillar move forward, right, or left to create different paths.
Each segment lights up as its action is performed, and the caterpillar’s head lights up, makes sounds, and blinks for added entertainment. As your child plays, he will also learn important planning and sequencing skills. As he gets older and needs more of a challenge, you can even set up a target for the caterpillar to reach or an obstacle course for it to travel through.
Highlights My First Hidden Pictures 4 Book Set
While electronics can provide a lot of learning opportunities, you should never underestimate the power of a good, old-fashioned book. Both of my children have been absolutely enthralled by search-and-find books, including these from Highlights. They are a perfect activity for those times when you need your kid to play quietly by himself, such as in a restaurant, at the doctor’s office, or at church.
These books are particularly great because they teach children important skills in a very sneaky way. Your kid will view each page as more of a game or challenge than as a learning opportunity, but he’ll develop his visual recognition skills and gain a greater capacity to focus in the process.
Some pictures in the book are in full color, while others are in black and white for added difficulty. The books also come with colorful stickers to place over each hidden object as it is found, but your child can do the searches over and over again if he doesn’t use them.
Ticket to Ride: First Journey
Trains are always a favorite with little boys, and this junior version of the beloved Ticket to Ride game gives them a chance to build trains while learning some important skills. Unlike the other game described earlier, this game is competitive rather than cooperative and can teach your child how to win and lose gracefully. It also teaches colors and counting.
In this game, two to four players compete to be the first to finish six train routes across the United States. The game moves quickly and takes less than 30 minutes to complete, making it the perfect game for family bonding time.
Fisher-Price Think & Learn Rocktopus
This interactive toy allows children to mix and match to create their own songs in three different learning modes. In music mode, children learn to listen to and follow instructions by placing different “instruments” into the octopus and tapping to hear their different sounds. There is also a five-level game mode and a math mode, in which children learn about addition, subtraction, and patterns. They can also include sound effects and change the tempo of their songs.
With 15 diverse instruments to choose from and five musical styles to experiment with, your child will have a blast making his own music. You can even download a free app so your child can add his tunes to a music video of his own creation.
What would childhood be without some great imaginary play? These toys encourage boys to use their creativity to explore and learn about the world around them.
Fisher-Price Imaginext Shark Bite Pirate Ship
For hours of imaginative pirate play, look no further than this shark-inspired ship from Fisher-Price. In addition to two pirate figures–one of whom is a shark–the set includes a spyglass and treasure as well as weapons for battle: two swords, a cannon ball, and four projectiles.
The best weapon, however, is the ship itself, which turns into a shark with the press of a button, swallowing prisoners and trapping them in the hull. Prisoners can also be thrown in the brig, hung from the yardarm cell, or forced to walk the plank.
Wheels along the bottom of the ship allow it to “sail” as your child pushes it along, and fins on the side move up and down as if the ship itself is swimming. The entire toy measures 21″ x 8″ x 16″, and there are no batteries required for operation.
Toy Tool Kids Construction Toy Workbench
If your son’s daddy is a Home Depot kind of guy (like mine), chances are your little guy is a fan of all things fix-it. If so, he’ll love this fully stocked play workbench, complete with hammer, wrenches, drill, saw, tape measure, and more. It even includes important safety gear–such as goggles, a mask, and a hard hat–so your kiddo can learn proper safety measures (since he might not learn it from Daddy).
Made from ABS plastic, this set is steady and sturdy enough for a 3-year-old to play with and even lean on without damaging it. Best of all, the whole set can transform from a workbench into a tool suitcase or trolley case for traveling or easy storage.
Green Toys Rocket
This awesome rocket comes with two astronaut figures decked out in spacesuits and helmets, ready to blast off into space. For added authenticity, the nose cone capsule on top detaches from the rocket, and there are even buttons and dials displayed inside.
The main body of the rocket also has a working door and measures 11″ tall, making it just the right size for little space lovers. As with all Green Toys products, this rocket is made from 100% recycled materials and is BPA- and phthalate-free. It’s even dishwasher safe! Because hey, kids do gross things with their toys sometimes.
ToyVelt Transport Carrier-Best Dinosaur
What could be better than a toy that combines both trucks and dinosaurs? For a typical 3-year-old boy, not much. That’s what makes this dinosaur carrier so perfect. Both sides of the truck have clear, liftable panels that open for easy access. On one side are six compartments for the included dinosaurs. On the other side are seven compartments for additional dinosaurs or small cars, if you have them.
The six dinosaur figures measure about 2″ or so, while the truck itself measures 16.6″ long and 5.5″ tall. Everything is made from sturdy ABS-free plastic, and a handle on the top of the truck makes for easy travel.
OMWay Kids Digital Video Camera
If your child is anything like my kids, he loves to take photos. And while I want to encourage that form of expression in them, I don’t like having to delete hundreds of photos from my phone each day. Enter the digital camera made just for kids. With this dual-lens camera, your child can take enough 8MP photos and 1080p high-definition videos to fill the 32 GB SD card that comes with it.
With auto-smile and 10-second timer functions, this camera makes it easier for your child to take quality photos. He can then customize his images with one of the camera’s 32 cartoon photo frames before uploading the photos he wants to keep using the included USB cord.
The camera comes in three different colors and includes a lanyard to hang it around your child’s neck. If he does drop it, however, the camera has a shockproof silicone shell to protect it from damage.
KOMVOX Walkie Talkies for Kids
Your child and a sibling or friend can enjoy hours of imaginative fun pretending to be spies, police officers, explorers, and more with these easy-to-use walkie talkies. While many walkie talkies designed for kids come with way too many buttons for a 3-year-old to use, these have only three–a power button, a call button, and a channel button.
With a 3-mile range and a battery life of 9 hours on standby or 3.5 hours of active use, these talkies open up a world of play possibilities. They have three channels to choose from, including a private one that uses a CTCSS code to prevent other walkie talkie users in your area from receiving or interrupting your communications.
Other Resources for Parents of 3-Year-Old Boys
- Developmental Milestones for 3-Year-Old Boys
- Emotional Milestones for 3-Year-Old Boys
- Fun Games for 3-Year-Old Boys