26 answers

Good Gifts for a 3 Year Old Boy?

i'm looking for some good, educational gift ideas for my son this year. he's 3 years old and loves cars, trucks, dinosaurs, sports and the like, but i'm hoping to expand his play world a bit and would love any ideas for gifts that might expose him to something new and that he could sorta grow into over the next year or so. what did/do your kids like at this age?

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So What Happened?™

thank you so much for all of the wonderful suggestions! i forgot to mention that he does already love love love puzzles and we did get him a couple of board games for his birthday and he loves those. but you guys gave me so many other great ideas and websites to check out. THANK YOU!!! (now if you gals wouldn't mind sending me some cash so that i can actually go out and buy all of this amazing stuff...ha!)

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Books Books and more Books he is at the perfect age to learn to read, the more books he has the better he will read later

Anything that has to do with Leap Frog. They have great educational. I have a grandson and he loves it. They have a little computer, not to expensive either and educational games.

Leap Frog makes WONDERFUL educational toys that are tons of fun. There's the "fridge farm" and they just came out with one like it that has different automobiles. Honestly you can't go wrong with Leap frog.

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Anything that has to do with Leap Frog. They have great educational. I have a grandson and he loves it. They have a little computer, not to expensive either and educational games.

My son will be 3 years old this November. Like you, I always want to get him more than just a toy. He loves to play with LEGOS, I got him interested building garages for his cars, now he likes building towers :). ( if you can take him to Legoland in Carlsbad it will be a great inspiration. My son spends HOURS in the Miniland USA area).
The big Train Alphabet Puzzle works great for us, we play letters, animals, and it easy for him to connect the pieces, because it is just a loooong floor puzzle.
To play "pairs" I got him the Dora's Domino ( yes, he likes Dora, besides there is no Diego Domino) and he loves it. He loves to bite cardboard, so the classic memory games do not work for me so far.
I do not know how open are you for him to play in the computer, but PBSKIDS.org, has great games for his age. You will be amazed of how fast he will learn. My son now just needs me to open the website and he is able to navigate and change characters/games by himself.
I hope these ideas work for you! Have fun!

3yr olds are old enough for PlayDough. It's fun to get the cookie cutters out and sculpt!
They are also old enough for Candyland and Chutes and ladders!!! That's how he can learn his colors.... what fun!

Legos are fantastic. They encourage mathematical/spacial reasoning, following directions, etc. They have big legos as a starter for the little guys called Duplo. Most of the boys I have worked with LOVE legos.

Leap Frog makes WONDERFUL educational toys that are tons of fun. There's the "fridge farm" and they just came out with one like it that has different automobiles. Honestly you can't go wrong with Leap frog.

My son loves the little frog leappad which has cartridges and books that are interactional. He's had it since birth and only has 3 books that go with it, but within the last 6 months, he has been real busy with those and can play for a whole hour with that. He loves it!

Another smart toy from leapfrog is the magnet alphabet letters that you can put on the fridge and fit into a little box that then tells you what letter it is. Good way to learn the letters.

I found some boys dress up cotumes at toys r us and costco and they are very durable. My son has the fireman one from toys r us and loves it. It is great for his imagination and he is already asking for us to make him a firetruck so he can rescue his friends.

ALso they have a section from a company caslled imaginierum and they make some great toys like a set of fishing poles w/ magnets to go fishing. we set up our small pool.

My 3 year old son really loves these games... Cariboo, Diego 1-2-3, and Brown Bear Brown Bear - also there is a dinosaur game where you roll the dice and put the parts together based on the numbers, but I can't think of the name!

Another fun thing we have is alphabet bean bags. We toss them to each other and before you can toss them you say what the letter is and we come up with a word that starts with that letter!

A kids cooking set... a kids gardening set... an art set... a "bug" bottle w/net & magnifying glass (my son loves this, I got it from Amazon.com) and with a bug book.

Also, a kids "camera"... there is the Fisher Price brand.

These are things my kids like and even my son who is only 2 yrs. old...

Good luck,

My four year-old son got "Mighty Mind" for his 3rd birthday. It is a tangrams game--very good for development and fine motor skills--although all he knows about it is that it is fun. Parent-teacher stores sell it.

He also likes his cash register and stuff (play food, pots and pans, aprons) with which to play store and restaurant. My seven year-old goddaughter likes this stuff too--so it is a fun game that grows with their imaginations and that a variety of ages can play together. Play kitchens and tables and chairs can also add to this fun.

Oh my gosh, the item my son got for his third birthday that is in use daily and will be for a long time is an easel - the possibilities are endless with it. Get one with a dry erase side and a chalkboard side and then you can clip paper to it for painting. LOTS of language development comes from using an easel - talking about his art, telling stories, learning colors, writing letters, his name, learning about seasons with colors... you get it - happy birthday to your guy!

Puzzles! My kids love puzzles, and they got their fist ones at age 3. I agree with a previous poster, 3 is the age when a whole new world of toys opens up - Play-do, board games, marble racers, lacing cards, paints - but their favorite by far are puzzles. Puzzles are great for math, spatial learning, hand-eye coordination, and are tons of fun. My kids still put together the big 24 piece ones, as well as the more advanced 48 and above. Have fun!

Oh, I forgot to mention our family's favorite board game - Zingo! It's perfect for 3 year olds. Our youngest daughter, who will be 4 in November, has been playing it for a year and asks for it almost every night.

Hi C.!

Discovery Toys has awesome educational toys, books, games & music. The toys come with a LIFETIME guarantee, so you will definitely get your moneys worth, and then some! Check them out at:


You can order directly through the website and have it shipped to you. We also offer in-home & catalog parties where you as the hostess would earn free & 1/2 priced products.

Please feel free to contact me and let me know how I can be of assistance!

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email: ____@____.com

My boys both spent hours at their "tool bench" that had "nails" to pound and doors that removed and put back on, etc. with lot of tools! On the other side of the spectrum they also both loved their play kitchen with fake foods and dishes. Tons of imagination goes into both of those activities. Playdoh is great for fine motor skills, and just plain fun! "Marbleworks" from DiscoveryToys. GREAT toy and a GREAT company for educational toys btw - done thru consultants - kind of like Avon but I think you can order online too. Check out their website www.discoverytoys.com I think you can search their online catalog by age. Their toys are a little pricey but very well made and a lot of thought towards child development goes into them. (we actually got our marbleworks on Ebay though! And it is just great!)Happy Birthday to your son!

My sons 3 year old son loves puzzles especially with the alphabet and numbers, Linking Logs (he loves to build) and Disney Bingo DVD. He has a 6 year old brother so he already had tons of cars, dinosaurs and legos. As a family we love the Disney Bingo DVD game because it brings us all together and teaches him about numbers. His grandmother bought him V-smile. They are educational video games. But make sure to get the games for a 3 year old because my son would get frustrated if he couldn't figure out the game. Good Luck!

How about one of those pop up forts/tents?

Trains, like Brio or Thomas, because he can set up the tracks in different ways as he grows. My son went from the simple figure eight track at age three to elaborate tracks he builds with dad at age five. Lots of ways to pretend, also.

A V-Tech Digital Camera. My 3 years old son rec'd it as a birthday present and its one of his best gifts ever. He uses it everyday. Its a 3 in 1 (digital camera, camcorder and video game). His first few shots were a little blurry, but now he is an expert at taking pictures. He sees us using our digital camera and of course, he has to take a shot as well. His older brother plays on the computer and he sits right next to him playing video with his camera. It is a little pricey ($60).

We bought him one of those play kitchen sets, as he loved to spend time with us in the kitchen. He has spent a lot of time there in his room. Also there is a company called Melissa and Doug that makes educational toys ( you can find their stuff at Barnes and Noble or Target). they make a clock that is a puzzle that he loved. He also likes the Kumon workbooks available at Target. Best of luck to you.

Books Books and more Books he is at the perfect age to learn to read, the more books he has the better he will read later

Hi C.,
My son just celebrated his third birthday last weekend, oh how time flies and he too is into the normal boy toys, cars, trucks, sports, etc. He was given a long floor mat piano, like the one in the FAO in New York just not as grand =) He absolutely loves it, it has three modes, one to make his own music, one to learn a song and one where the songs just play. He just dances away on top of this piano and has a blast =) I actually have a lot of fun "playing" the piano with him =) I thought it was a wonderful gift =)
Hope this helps,
Take care,

A whole world of toys opens up for 3-year-olds. WOW! It's amazing! I would visit ToysRUs and shop. You might find something that really strikes you. One of the big things is that board games become available. There's Candy Land, Chutes & Ladders, Hi-Ho Cheerio, Memory, and so much more that are perfect for 3yo. And, there are so many versions out there to specifically hit the interest of any child. For example, one of my son's favorite games at that age was Trestle and Trundles. It's a Chutes & Ladder style game with a Thomas the Tank Engine theme. But, at this age there's also dramatic play (my kids love to dress up, run a restaurant, be a doctor, etc), building (block, Legos, etc), physical growth (bicycling, climbing, swinging, etc), and so much more. My children have loved the Leap Pads (My First Leap Pad is the version appropriate for 3yo). My son also loved race tracks/cars. There are some fun shake&go versions perfect for 3yo. 3yo is when children also start playing together and interacting. Go shopping! There's so much to consider!!! 3yo is magical!!!

My son sounds pretty much like yours at that age. Some of the gift ideas that we found which may or may not be what you are looking for are as follows:

* SmartCycle - they have different cartridges with the types of themes you mentioned him liking and they are educational while playing them.
* Books are always great!
* Puzzles (if he can't do them yet, he'll grow into them during the coming year - that's what mine did and now he loves them)
* Board Games (Diego has a great one where they have to use numbers and animal identification to cover a game board and whoever covers their first wins. We received it for his 3rd Birthday and it became a quick hit as he can play it with us. There are lots of other educational board games out there as well. I think you'll find that to be a great avenue)
* Sing Along DVD's (Veggie Tales is one my son loves)
* PlayDoh supplies were great at that age and definitely encouraged creativity.
* Building Blocks are great
* Play sets - Doctor, Fireman, Construction, etc. really stretches their pretend play.
* Kids Tool Set

I hope those suggestions help. I remember the challenge of figuring out what he would like at age three. Some of those were ideas I came up with and he either loved them right away or grew into them over the course of that year. He is now four and many of those toys/resources are still used frequently!

Best of luck to you in this endeavor to identify good gift items!

What about art supplies? My sister in law paints, and she let my daughter use a canvas and acrylic paints (smock required) to make a work of art at 2 1/2 years old. I framed it because it is so beautiful. I continue to periodically break out the canvasses - you can get them at any craft store - for both of my girls and I love to see the progression in their development. At three, he will probably just enjoy smearing the paint, mixing the colors, etc. If you sit with him and paint your own canvass, he will see how you dip the brush, mix the colors on the palette, and use the brush on the canvass. Both of my girls started part time preschool at three, and the messy artwork that they got to do was the best thing for them at this age. (that, and the social interaction with other 3 year olds...)

His imagination is blossoming at this age, too - toys like veterinary kits, toolboxes, any imagination toy where he has to pretend are great, too.

Hi C.!

Looks like you've already gotten some great suggestions. Has anyone mentioned Lakeshore Learning - www.lakeshorelearning.com. My son is also turning 3 and I have a 1 year old daughter and we have bought them some great educational toys there. Happy Birthday!


Hello mama C.~

My son is turning 3 in a couple weeks & everyone has been asking what he wants for his birthday, so I did a wishlist at myregistry.com You can look at what I found...the registry is under Theodore Green. Have Fun Looking!

These are some sites I found...Some of them even have a section by age or interest, which helps to narrow it down. Good luck!

~Mama C.


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