Updated: Nov 16, 2022
Preschoolers are ready to play! Pretend play begins to emerge around age 18 months, but really jumps into sequenced, detailed pretend play after age 3. The gifts in this list are perfect to help your little one dive deeper into independent playtime now and for years to come!
I've included Amazon links and small shop links when applicable - as well as 2 homemade toys. Toys don't need to be fancy or expensive for them to have loads of play potential.
Note: for the purposes of this gift guide, "preschool' refers to children between three and six years of age. However, these toys are perfect for children of any age who love playing pretend and building, and have loads of play potential for big kids, too!
Simplifying Play is a participant of the Amazon Affiliate Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Some of the links in this post are Amazon links.
Learning Resources Cash Register: This little cash register sees SO much play time at our house. From grocery store and shopping play to pretend laptop play, it's a powerhouse! These are easy to find second hand - I found ours at a thrift store and added random fake money we already had.
Melissa and Doug Ice Cream Counter: There's a reason this thing has almost 14,000(!!!) 5 star reviews on Amazon - my girls play with this thing DAILY. It's such a fun little set. They've got the pizza counter on their Christmas list for this year!
Miniland Doll with Down Syndrome: Dolls are not just for girls - they teach valuable social emotional skills to all kids! And we adore our Miniland dolls, because they have real hair, are poseable, can get wet, and are the perfect size for preschoolers. We especially adore that they have CUTE dolls with Down Syndrome - but all of their diverse dolls are super duper cute!
Doctor Kit: Every home needs a pretend doctor kit, and we love this wooden version. We've had ours several years and the box is destroyed but the other pieces are going strong!
Melissa and Doug Barn: I love that this barn folds up for easy storage, has a couple of fun accessories, and comes with animals!
Magnetic Tiles: We've had our set of Picasso magnetic tiles for two years and they still see daily play. If you don't have a set yet, I highly recommend this one! We also have these cars and we're hoping to add this doors and windows set to our collection soon!
Tea Set: Green Toys for the win with this tea set - perfect for kitchen play but also great for sensory play or the bathtub! We had this set in classrooms in the daycare that I used to manage and it can take a licking and keep on kicking!
Cardboard Blocks: Another great building toy for kids that are ready to build BIG! We love this set of cardboard blocks!
Tonka Dump Truck: We found one of these at a garage sale a few years ago, and it has seen lots and lots of playtime in our backyard. These things are indestructible and lead to hours of hauling and building!
Wood Block Groceries DIY: This wood grocery DIY is made with scrap wood - and includes adorable, free downloadable labels!
Looking for more gift guides? See the full list here!