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If your little boy has tons of energy and is curious about everything, finding a toy that can get and hold his attention is no easy feat. Luckily you can find entertaining and educational options for every toddler.
We tested and researched the best available toy options, considering recommended age, complexity, and educational value. Our favorites range from STEM skill-building Magna-Tiles to the Reeves International Big Dig Sandbox Digger Excavator Crane, a sand, dirt, and snow toy that fosters fine motor skills and keeps little ones engaged for hours.
Here are the best toys for 3-year-old boys.
Reeves International The Big Dig Sandbox Digger Excavator Crane
If you're looking for a highly interactive and cool toy for a 3-year-old boy who loves construction gear, you've found your winner. This excavator can have them digging in the sand at the beach, gravel at home, or nearly anywhere in the backyard.
This digger comes with a seat and crane that swivels 360 degrees and two handles that will help your little work on both their fine and gross motor skills as they dig away. You'll be so impressed with how entertained this toy keeps them that you'll take it everywhere.
While it requires assembly and costs a bit more than other beach toys, the extra investment is worth it because of its extended lifespan. With a maximum of 110 pounds, your little one will be able to play with this excavator until age 8.
Magna-Tiles 100-Piece Clear Colors Set
Yes, Magna-Tiles are worth it! These cool building blocks of sorts let kids dream up whatever they want as they magnetically stick together. While they come with a hefty price tag, your kid will spend hours with these as they work on their STEM skills, which will help them learn in the math and science fields. These tiles are also durable, so they will last your family for years to come.
Fat Brain Toys Squigz Starter Set - 24 pc.
Squigz are designed for kids ages 3 and older, but don't be surprised if your child is still playing with these when he's in elementary school. This starter set comes with 24 pieces in eight different shapes, and both joining them together and unsticking them (they pop loudly) is incredibly satisfying. They're made from dishwasher-safe, BPA-free silicone, and additional sets can be purchased separately if your kid needs to go big with his creations.
Educational Insights Design & Drill Activity Center
Power up the fun with this great activity set. The handy little man will love his own power tools. It comes with a reversible power drill with three drill bits, a hand screwdriver, combination wrench, and 120 colorful plastic bolts. The workspace is a sturdy activity board with holes in it, which the bolts can be driven into for a variety of patterns, pictures, and other creations. They can use one of the 20 accompanying activity cards to aid in their design or freestyle all by themselves.
Prextex Cartoon R/C Police Car and Race Car Radio Control Toys
These little remote control cars are a perfect gift for 3-year-old boys with a need for speed. The pack comes with two vehicles—a police car and a race car. Each also comes complete with not one but two, removable action figures. The cars have flashing headlights and make lots of great sounds that will delight your little ones.
KidKraft Ride Around Train Set and Table
All aboard for fun! If you’re looking for a big gift that’s going to be a big hit, you’re on the right track with this train set and table. It comes with 100 pieces for an amazing array of adventures. Included is everything from wooden train tracks to trains, airports, helipads, trees, people, street signs, police cars, and more. They’re so much to see, do, build, and imagine.
Stomp Rocket Jr. Glow
He’ll be soaring high when he receives a Stomp Rocket. The kit comes with one stomp launcher and four rockets. Kids simply run, jump, and stomp as hard as they can on the soft launch pad and send the rockets soaring up into the sky. And soar they do! Rockets can reach heights of up to 100 feet depending on how hard you stomp. Even better, these rockets glow in the dark, which makes them great for day or night.
Fat Brain Toys Shape Factory
Learning the basic colors and shapes will be fun with this Fat Brain toy. The puzzle has large pieces (great for small hands to grab) that have to be fit into the appropriately shaped slots. This is fun and also teaches important motor skills.
Ryan’s World Vending Surprise
This vending machine from the popular YouTube channel, Ryan's World, is perfect for kids ages 3 and up. The machine is full of toy juices and snacks, and inside each package is a fun surprise. Your little one might find slime or even a fruit-shaped eraser. There are 16 surprises in all, and the machine has lights, sounds, and the voice of Ryan himself.
PJ Masks PJ Seeker
Get your kids the PJ Masks PJ Seeker, which is based on the popular show, and they can pretend to chase villains like Luna Girl, Romeo, and the Night Ninja. The large trailer can fit four vehicles in the detachable carrier and three figures in the front cabin. Note that it only comes with Catboy and the Cat-Car; others are sold separately. It has flashing lights, sounds, and even a searchlight for nighttime expeditions.
Melissa & Doug Fire Chief Role Play Costume Set
Fire up his imagination with this fire chief dress-up set. He can jump into hero mode by donning this dapper uniform. It comes complete with a bright red jacket, sturdy helmet, official-looking badge, and reusable name tag, so he’ll look just the part. Even better, it also comes with accessories that include a fire extinguisher and a bullhorn that makes sound effects. (Note: The bullhorn requires two AA batteries, which aren’t included.) Both of them fit into the jacket’s built-in utility belt, so he has everything he needs to save the day right at his fingertips.
PlasmaCar Ride On Toy
Is it sorcery? There are no gears, batteries, or pedals on this ride-on car, but with enough practice, kids can get themselves up to a speed of 6 miles per hour. It has a weight limit of 220 pounds, so some adults can even take it for a spin. Kids won't realize that all the twisting and turning have a sneaky benefit: developing key motor skills like core strength and hand-eye coordination.
Little Tikes Jump 'n Slide Bouncer
Every parent of a 3-year-old knows: Tire them out, and bedtime is a breeze. Add bouncy fun to the mix, and you are the parent of the year. This bounce house is made to be puncture-resistant and includes a high-pressure blower for constant inflation during use. Slides and safety mesh make for easy on and off and parental supervision.
Little Tikes EasyScore Basketball Set
Basketball is such a classic game, and this set has everything to get started. The hoop adjusts to six heights (2.5 to 4 feet) and has an oversized rim, so little ones can make shots. The set also includes a kid-size, soft basketball that they can easily grip.
The Day the Crayons Quit
You can never go wrong with a book as a gift for a 3-year old boy. This favorite follows the day the crayons quit! Besides sparking imagination, your kid (and you!) will laugh along at all the hilarious protests these crayons make. Available in hardcover or a board book, any child will get a kick out of this clever read.
Munchkin Fishin' Bath Toy
Let’s face it: 3-year-old boys can be a sticky, messy sort, so bath time is a frequent necessity. This bath toy comes with a magnetic fishing rod made for little hands and three adorable sea critters that float. He can reel them in over and over again—no bait required. This game also works well in a swimming pool, in the kitchen sink, or even on dry land, and it promotes hand-eye coordination. Of course, don’t forget that children this age must be supervised in the bathtub and near water at all times.
Little Tikes 3-Foot Trampoline
Three-year-olds get the wiggles frequently, but with a trampoline, they can bounce them out. This model was created for kids ages 3 to 6 and can safely hold up to 55 pounds. (It's meant to hold only one kid at a time.) There's a stability bar to help with balance, and the jumping space is 3 feet wide, offering plenty of room to move.
Melissa & Doug PAW Patrol Rescue Mission Wooden Dashboard
Pretend play is at a max with this wooden dashboard. Your three-year-old can steer his way while listening to the realistic sirens and horn, crank up the turn signals himself, or shift gears like he's watched you do all along. The three windshield mission cards inspired by PAW Patrol make for more exciting play.
Blockaroo Magnetic Foam Builders
Every kid needs a set of building blocks, and this set is a great option with some unique features. The blocks are made of foam, and they're magnetic. So parents won't have to hear the crashing of hard, wooden blocks. Plus, the 360-degree rotating figures let kids create imaginative designs.
Pottery Barn Kids Anywhere Beanbag
If you're looking to skip the toy route for a gift for a 3-year-old boy, a bean bag chair is a smart buy. It gives him a space to read a book or watch his favorite show. Or it's even a place for parents to sit while he is playing on the floor. This one from PB Kids can be personalized and comes in an array of colors, so you're sure to find something that fits.
Sesame Street Love to Hug Elmo
Sesame Street's famous red monster is still a go-to holiday gift for the preschool set. "Love to Hug" Elmo, who speaks both English and Spanish, lives up to his name. After a belly squeeze, he'll lift his arms for a hug. And when kids do embrace him, he responds with kisses, songs, his signature giggle, and phrases such as "Hugs, please!"
Simplay3 Carry and Go Durable Track Table for Toy Cars, Trucks, and Trains
Traditional train tables can be fun, but they also require a ton of real estate in a bedroom or playroom. This portable, two-sided alternative weighs just under 7 pounds and has a carrying handle, so it can be easily moved between a table and the floor. It has two sides: One has classic figure-eight train tracks, and the other is a race track with obstacles for toy cars and trucks.
Kinetic Sand Beach Sand
Kinetic Sand is all the rage, and it is easy to see why. This fun sand lets kids (and adults) craft castles and other designs with no need to worry about a sandy mess being left behind. The sand all magically sticks together, so cleanup is a breeze. The sand will never dry or harden, so you'll get a lot of miles out of this 3-pound pack.
VTech KidiBeats Kids Drum Set
Here’s a rockin’ gift for a cool little dude: a drum set. He’ll want to bang on the drum all day, as there are three drum pads and a cymbal to make a variety of noises. Drumsticks are included, and it lights up as well for extra rockstar action. Not only can he bang out some awesome tunes, but he can learn a thing or two while doing so. The drum set has four modes to select from: free play, letters, numbers, and follow along.
What to Look for in a Gift for a 3-Year-Old Boy
Check the age recommendations on a gift’s packaging, as this is a good judge of how safe and engaging a toy will be, says Kristin Morency Goldman, senior adviser of strategic communications for The Toy Association. However, remember it’s just a guideline based on average maturity, motor skills, and cognitive development. Toys labeled 3+ may contain small parts that pose a choking hazard, says Morency Goldman. If your child is 3 but still mouthing toys, it is best to skip these options.
Books, wooden toys, and other single-function toys can be lots of fun. But also consider a gift with more than one function. Toys that light up, make noise, move, or have interactive features tend to hold a child’s attention for longer periods of time.
Toys don’t have to recite numbers and letters to be educational. There are plenty of traditional toys—pretend play sets, balance bikes, puzzles, building blocks, memory games, and more—that help your toddler develop all of the important physical, language, and cognitive skills they’re working on, says Dr. Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician in South Overland Park, Kansas.
Any type of toy that requires children to use their hands can help encourage hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, says Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist in New York City. Toys commonly beloved by 3-year-olds, such as Legos or building blocks, also foster imagination by providing children with objects to construct structures of their choice and create imaginary worlds.
What types of gifts are developmentally appropriate for 3-year-old boys?
When selecting toys for 3-year-old boys, choose ones that help develop and improve their skills. There are many toys that focus on motor skills while others focus on imaginative play or storytelling. Some toys, such as board games, help build their social skills and encourage group interactions. You'll also want to select toys that have longevity. Children learn and grow at such a rapid pace at this age, so the toy will need to keep their interest for a longer period of time.
What types of gifts are popular with 3-year-old boys?
Gifts that spark imagination and open-ended play are always great options for 3-year-olds. Typically, the most popular gifts among 3-year-old boys include items like kinetic sand, Play-doh, ride-on toys, themed play sets, costumes, and more. Bath time toys also work well for swimming, so they'll hold your child's attention for longer.
What types of educational gifts are appropriate for 3-year-old boys?
Select toys that develop your boy's mental and physical skills at this age. Encourage the use of toys like puzzles, interactive books, or even a call-and-chat learning phone that's filled with appropriate educational tools for young boys. You can also look for brands that produce toys designed to aid children in their education. Fat Brain Toys allows you to shop by age and select toys for 3-year-olds that help build memory, visual-spatial skills, and creativity.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Patrice J. Williams, a freelance home writer and The Spruce's gift guide expert. She's researched and made recommendations on everything from wedding to graduation gifts and beyond and knows what makes a great product. To make this list, she considered the complexity, type, and recommended age for each toy.
Additional research was done by by Julia Fields a lifestyle writer for The Spruce covering all things surrounding toys, gifts, and the holidays since October 2021. Before that, she covered similar topics including toy reviews, product round-ups, expert-focused articles, and more.