Preschoolers have minds like sponges that aren’t just absorbing information but are working overtime to make sense of the world around them and form connections through their experiences. They’re at an age where they crave learning at school or home, are navigating the world of friendships, and are working hard to understand the world through imaginative play. It’s not uncommon to find them acting out different scenarios that they see at home, imaginary worlds, and incorporating task oriented play into their repertoire. Preschoolers are naturally drawn to the digital world because of the interactive nature and while they can learn a lot to foster early learning experiences, it’s always good to be mindful of balancing screen time with time in the out-of-doors. Here are 15 gift picks to delight the 3-5 set this holiday season.
LeapPad Ultra ($149)— LeapFrog’s LeapPad has been a longtime favorite of mine and but with the announcement of the Ultra comes an improved device that serves as a great first tablet for kids whose parents want to focus on providing quality educational content. What’s different about this LeapPad? It’s bigger, brighter thanks to a higher resolution screen, features wifi, more storage for games, apps, and photos (8GB), and still has the great educational content that’s fun and engaging for preschoolers that LeapFrog is known for. It’s still highly durable and grows with your kids as they do to ensure they’re always engaging in content that’s just right for them.
Monopoly Junior Party ($14.99) — Young real estate tycoons can practice snapping up buildings to form a monopoly in this fun game that teaches one to one correspondence as kids roll the die and count spaces to move around the board and beginning money skills. This game is great for preschoolers and parents because of the smaller and more age-appropriate board that prevents games from dragging on forever. Monopoly Junior was a long-time favorite in our house until we moved on to the more grown-up version of Monopoly.
DigiTools Paint Pack from Crayola ($39.99) — Young artists who like to create in many different mediums will also enjoy creating digital art on the iPad with the DigiTools Paint Pack. Vivid Crayola colors come to life thanks to the Digital Airbrush that makes spray art, Digital Paint Roller that can be used to put down painted patterns, and Digital Samper to add painted images to scenes. Artwork can be saved in a virtual gallery, shared via email, or uploaded and printed for sharing.
Daniel Tiger Toys from Toys “R” Us (starting at $5.99)— The loveable Daniel Tiger from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood has been brought back in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, a darling show on PBS about being a good friend, neighbor, and exercising kindness to others. I love this show because it focuses on fostering social and emotional well being in kids at an early age while encouraging them to explore. Any of the Daniel Tiger toys launched this fall through Toys “R” Us would be a great gift for young fans as they help children act out the things they see through the shows. See the entire Daniel Tiger toy line at ToysRUs.com or in stores.
LeapReader ($34.99)— It may look like the Tag Reader from previous years but LeapReader is a learn-to-read-and-write system that helps your child learn to read and write by sounding out words and guiding letter strokes interactively. 100+ audio books engage kids in imaginative stories with lively character voices while building vocabulary skills and growing reading comprehension skills while interactive handwriting guidance helps children learn to write stroke-by-stroke on mess-free, no ink LeapFrog® Learning Paper. I love that LeapReader makes reading so fun while teaching kids handwriting fundamentals at an age where it’s important to develop fine motor coordination.
Domino Race Set ($49.98)— A great family gift, the Domino Race Set from HearthSong is brightly colored, comes with 255 pieces for endless play. It’s a perfect gift for winter as kids in certain climates might spend more time inside but still need to exercise creativity. There’s also a Domino Race Add-On Set ($24.98) that contains 24 pieces (including a tunnel, ramp, and ball) that could be purchased by another family member for a truly spectacular gift designed to be shared.
Cat in the Hat I Can Do That! Game ($19.99)— When our kids were little, my brother bought them this game that was a favorite for a long time. It’s perfect for preschoolers with energy because it involves activity that hones gross motor skills while not requiring tons of room to play. 33 activity cards direct kids to do fun tasks as they act out elements from the Cat in the Hat story that they’re probably quite familiar with. It’s great to play as a family or with friends and is even something that younger kids in a family can participate in.
Kre-O Cityville Invasion Marina Madness Building Set ($19.99)— Kids who love to build will enjoy protecting the marina from a sonic motion enabled shark. 206 pieces allow for young creators to build the marina, fishing boat, shark transport vehicle, crane, and spear projectile to act out different scenes around the water.
My Little Pony Feature Princess Twilight Sparkle Pony ($39.97 from Amazon)— Girly girls who love sparkle, dress up, and ponies will adore the newest pony in the My Little Pony line. Princess Twilight Sparkle has pretty flowing hair for brushing, is adorned with sparkly marks, and can be dressed up for the ultimate in pretend play with endless scenarios.
Age appropriate books and subscriptions for preschoolers:
Train by Elisha Cooper($17.99) — I met author Elisha Cooper in 2010 and fell in love with his books, beginning with Farm. Beautiful illustrations and a wonderful story captivate children and adults alike and in Train, kids can climb aboard a red-striped Commuter Train in the East, switch to a blue Passenger Train rolling through midwestern farmland, then hop on a Freight Train, soar over mountains on an Overnight Train, and finish on a High-Speed Train as it races to the West Coast. Preschoolers who can never get enough of trains can experience their sights, sounds, smells, and the engineers and conductors who make them go during this cross country adventure.
Ruby’s Studio books by The Mother Company ($12.95 each)— With a commitment to help raise good people, Mother Company founders Abbie and Sam continue to do just that through fabulous products that empower children to be confident, thoughtful and in touch with their emotions. One For All tackles the important topic of bullying that’s important for preschoolers to be aware of in order to work together and use teamwork to stop it, rather than being bystanders. I also like Casey Caterpillar Feels Left Out because, well, doesn’t every child feel left out at some point in time? Adorable Casey teaches empathy and communication in a delightful way that preschoolers can understand. If you’re looking for a specific book to help your child understand their range of feelings, resolve friendship conflicts, and explore social and emotional worlds, take a look at the other books from The Mother Company that are a great addition to any home library.
BookBoard (starts at $4.99/month)— I love Bookboard because it was developed by tech-savvy parents who value reading and comprehension skills yet understand the importance of keeping your child entertained through quality content that will grow with them, Designed for kids up to age 12, Bookboard features over 400 titles (including Berenstain Bears and Boxcar Children series!) that can be unlocked to they can be added to personal collections. The more a child reads, the more content they unlock, a genius idea to get kids reading and keep them reading! Choose from a monthly plan ($8.99/month) or 6 month plan ($4.99/month) that both provide unlimited content, audio books, offline storage so you can read books anywhere, a report of your child’s reading progress, and up to 4 child reader accounts, and a parent portal. Oh, and Bookboard lets you try it for free first but chances are you’ll love it!
Kiwi Crate ($19.95/month)— Sometimes when you want to do a project with your kids, it’s nice to have everything in one place. Kiwi Crate has all the high quality materials and inspiration for projects related to a theme such as music, gardening, dinosaurs or colors and you can choose to buy just a single month or 3, 6, or 12 month subscriptions to keep the fun arriving at your door regularly. I also love that there’s a way to add materials via a “no fight crate” ($9.95/month) so there are enough supplies for siblings. It makes a perfect gift from faraway grandparents or other relatives who are searching for the perfect thing to get your children.
High Five ($34.95/year via Amazon)— Who doesn’t love getting mail? A magazine subscription chock full of age appropriate content makes a fantastic gift that gives throughout the year. High Five, by Highlights, features fun recipes, crafts, hidden pictures, matching games, and other puzzles to encourage cognitive thinking and foster academic skills in reading and math at a level that’s just right for preschoolers.
Samples were received for review purposes. Amazon Affiliate links contained in this post. All opinions are my own.