Our Top Picks
"This starter set comes with 24 pieces and both joining them together and unsticking them is incredibly satisfying."
"The cars have flashing headlights and make lots of great sounds that will delight your little ones."
"There's also a hidden compartment under the seat for stashing important things like toys and snacks."
"These tiles also help your child work on their fine motor skills as they have to figure out how to put them all together."
"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."
"It comes with a reversible power drill, a screwdriver, a combination wrench, two drill bits, and 120 colorful plastic bolts."
"By following lights and tapping along, he can learn the alphabet, counting and so much more."
"This excavator can have them digging in the sand at the beach, gravel at home, or pretty much anywhere in the backyard."
"Even better, it also comes with accessories that include a fire extinguisher and a bullhorn that makes sound effects."
"This favorite book follows the day the crayons quit!"
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Fat Brain Toys Squigz Starter Set
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.
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Prextex Pack of 2 Cartoon R/C Police Car and Race Car Radio Control
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.
We had a kid put this to the test and their parent commented, “It was also great for helping with motor skills since you have to drive the cars using a remote.”
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Fisher-Price Harley-Davidson Tough Trike
This Harley-themed trike is designed for children ages 2 to 5 years and has a weight limit of 55 pounds. The wide wheelbase keeps kids stable, and even little ones will find it easy to get rolling thanks to the large pedals. There's also a hidden compartment under the seat for stashing important things like toys and snacks.
Looking for more options? Check out our guide to the best ride-on toys.
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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 built to last so they will last your family for years to come.
These tiles also help your child work on their fine motor skills as they have to figure out how to put them all together. Parents agree that these are really worth the price tag, with many saying these are a quality product that is fun for the whole family. One reviewer even said this is the best toy they've ever bought.
Want more? We researched the best STEM toys out there.Continue to 5 of 28 below.
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The Original Stomp Rocket Jr. Glow, 4 Rockets
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 just how hard the stomp. Even better, these rockets glow in the dark, which makes them great for day or night.
After a round of testing with children, our parent's review: “In addition to the excitement factor, there is the opportunity to teach simple science terminology, like trajectory, angle, force, and so it's simultaneously a hands-on active toy, but also educational,”
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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 —just like dad’s, only a lot more fun! It comes with a reversible power drill, a screwdriver, a combination wrench, two drill bits, 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.
We put this toy to the test and our tester noted: “I really like how this simultaneously engages their imagination and fine motor skills but doesn't inundate them (and me) with bright flashing lights and obnoxious, repetitive songs.” One downside from the tester was the cleanup!
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VTech KidiBeats Kids Drum Set
Here’s a rockin’ gift for a cool little dude—a drum set. He’ll just 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. By following lights and tapping along, he can learn the alphabet, counting and so much more.
It runs on three AA batteries. While a demo set is included, you’ll want to have some others on hand for regular use so the beat can go on and on and on.
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Reeves International The Big Dig Sandbox Digger Excavator Crane
If you're looking for the coolest toy for a 3-year-old boy you've found your winner. This excavator can have them digging in the sand at the beach, gravel at home, or pretty much anywhere in the backyard. As they dig away they'll be working on both their fine and gross motor skills.
You'll be so impressed with how entertained this toy keeps them you'll end up taking it with you everywhere! Another plus, they'll play with this till age 8 so it doesn't have a short lifespan.Continue to 9 of 28 below.
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Melissa & Doug Fire Chief Role Play Costume Dress-Up 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 adjustable 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.
The jacket is machine washable, so mom’s biggest problem may be getting him out of it long enough to wash it once in awhile. Bonus: Beyond everyday fun, it can do double duty as a Halloween costume. This is one hot gift.
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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 and child will get a kick out of this clever read.
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Little Tikes 3' Trampoline
3-year-olds get the wiggles frequently, but with a trampoline, they can bounce them out, Tigger style. 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 three feet wide, offering plenty of room to move.
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KidKraft 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.
They play area is 49" x 34", which means there’s plenty of room for lots of little engineers to play. There are also two plastic bins under the table that slide in and out to store all the extra trains and pieces when they’re not in use.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best toys for toddler boys.Continue to 13 of 28 below.
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Zoostliss Early Education Colorful Wooden Tetris Block Intelligence Puzzle
This great puzzle set solves the problem of what to get a 3-year-old boy. Different from traditional puzzles, there’s more than one way to solve this one.
It comes with 40 pieces made of beech wood and non-toxic paints, and the goal is to fit all of the blocks back together on the board with no spaces. There are many different ways to do it, making it a new and exciting challenge over and over again. The blocks come in eight colors (there are five of each), which also makes the puzzle great for learning shapes, colors and how to think creatively when faced with a problem.
While it’s geared toward kids ages 3 to 10, adults will have fun trying to solve it as well. Set a timer and see who can solve it the quickest. If you need an extra challenge, this puzzle is a great alternative to electronics and video games.
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Charcoal Twill 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, watch his favorite show, or even a place for mom and dad 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.
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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. Kids can launch disks, detach a trap (for bad guys, of course), or release the cabin and play with it separately.
Looking for more gifts? Check out our guide to the best toys for 3-year-olds.
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Little Tykes Jump & 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 built-in blower for constant inflation during use. Slides and safety mesh make for easy on and off and parental supervision.Continue to 17 of 28 below.
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Ryan's World Super Surprise Safe
This safe is part of the new Ryan's World Toys line, which was started by the family behind the Ryan ToysReview YouTube show. Ryan is a beloved school-aged kid who unwraps and reviews products, and his channel has nearly 22 million subscribers to date.
Opening this safe is as much of a process as actually playing with the stuff inside, as kids will have to turn a key, decode a message, and smash a box with a pretend sledgehammer. Their reward will be a stash of more than 30 cool gifts, such as articulated figures, mix-and-match characters, and various treasures.
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PAW Patrol, Mighty Pups Super PAWs Lookout Tower
Would your kids watch non-stop Paw Patrol shows all day if you let them? This massive lookout tower will give them a chance to act out their favorite episodes in real life. It comes with an elevator, zip line, and six vehicle areas, as well as the Chase figure and his car. It's especially fun to launch him directly down into his seat via a trap door. (Other figures and cars can be bought separately, which you'll want to do if your kid has a preferred pup.) The blinking lights and sound effects are a given, of course, and just like on the show, you'll be able to hear Ryder reciting missions from the control tower.
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STEM Club Toy Subscription: 3-4 year olds
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math, and this Amazon membership gives kids a chance to get familiar with the concepts from a young age.
Parents pay a monthly subscription fee, and each month a new toy shows up, based on their child's age group (it runs from 3 to 13). Shipping is free, and toys might include marble runs, slime-making kits, play drills, fossil dig kits, and domino race tracks.
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Thomas & Friends Fisher-Price Wood, Family Farm Set Toy
Thomas the Tank Engine is one of the most perennially adored children's characters and this farm-themed Fisher-Price set is the perfect addition to any train collection.
Besides the Thomas products, the tracks are compatible with many of the popular train sets, such as Brio, Melissa & Doug, and Imaginarium. The 30-piece set includes Rosie the train, a cargo car, two farmers, and four animals. The barn is open on both sides, making it easier for multiple kids to play, and the wooden tracks are simple for even young children to snap together.Continue to 21 of 28 below.
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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 like "Hugs, please!"
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Hape Four Stage Rocket Ship
The design for this four-story wooden rocket, which is finished with water-based paint, was inspired by real-life space shuttles and space stations. It stands about 30 inches high and has a string-assisted elevator that moves up and down through the middle. It comes with several tiny, detailed accessories, such as astronaut figures, a space rover, a terrarium, and a solar panel.
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Simplay3 Carry and Go Track Table
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 seven 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, the other is a race track with obstacles for toy cars and trucks. Lots of different vehicles fit well on the surfaces, including Brio, Thomas & Friends, Hot Wheels, and Monster Trucks.
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Munchkin Fishin' Bath Toy
Let’s face it, 3-year-old boys can be a sticky, messy sort, so scrub-a-dub-dub time in the tub is a frequent necessity. There will be no need to lure him in anymore; this fishing game will have him begging for bath time.
It 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 promotes hand-eye coordination. Of course, don’t forget that children this age must be supervised near water at all times.
The price on this cute gift is right (inexpensive, that is), and it’s sure to provide a lot of good, clean fun.Continue to 25 of 28 below.
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Step2 Great Creations Art Center Desk
Preschoolers are prolific and enthusiastic artists, and this combination easel and desk are designed to maximize their creativity while containing the mess that often accompanies it.
It has a double-sided easel with a chalkboard and a dry-erase whiteboard, or parents can use clips to let kids paint. Other handy features include a built-in desk with a bench (the seat has a 75-pound weight limit), and plenty of storage space for art supplies and coloring books.
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The Original PlasmaCar
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 six miles per hour. It has a weight limit of 220 pounds, so adults can also take it for a spin. Kids won't realize that all the twisting and turning as a sneaky benefit: Developing key motor skills like core strength and hand-eye coordination.
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Kinetic Sand is all the rage and it is easy to see why. This fun sand lets kids (and adults) craft up castles, designs, and more with no need to worry about a sandy mess being left behind. The sand all magically sticks together so clean up is a breeze. The sand will never dry or harden so you'll get a lot of miles out of this 3-pound pack.
Parents agree that this sand is really that cool. They love that it is a toy that will last a long time, doesn't cost a lot, and helps inspire their child's creativity with no annoying sounds blaring.
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PAW Patrol - Ultimate Rescue Fire Truck with Extendable 2 ft. Tall Ladder
If your kid is into Paw Patrol, this cool fire truck will inspire their pretend play. The 2-foot ladder extends so they can have their characters "climb" up and rescue the day. "Water guns" also help them put out any fires that arise as they shoot out of the fire truck.
Your 3-year-old will enjoy playing with all of the bells and whistles on these toys. Just be sure to have two AA batteries on hand when opening the package.
Products Tested by The Spruce
How We Tested
We bought four of our readers’ favorite gifts for 3-year-old boys that our reviewers tested for 18 hours. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these gifts, from their complexity to their age appropriateness. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
What to Look for in a Gift for a 3-Year-Old-Boy
Age Check the age recommendations on a gift’s packaging, but remember this isn’t an absolute — it’s just a guideline based on average maturity, motor skills, and cognitive development.
Complexity 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.
Type Avoid stereotypes when shopping! Not all boys love cars and tools. Rather than defer to gender norms, think more carefully about the personality of the 3-year-old boy you’re buying for.
Test Results: Prextex Pack of 2 Cartoon R/C Police Car and Race Car Radio Control (Best Overall)
What We Like
Helps with fine motor skills
What We Don't Like
Replacing batteries is expensive
No volume control
One of our testers reported that both her 3- and 5-year-old kids “had a blast” playing with this toy: “It was also great for helping with motor skills since you have to drive the cars using a remote,” she explained. Durability was also a plus, according to one reviewer: “The toys were driven on floors, floor mats, tables, and other furniture,” she said. “Even though they dropped and rolled at times, they didn't break and continued to work well.” One of our testers, however, didn’t like that the cars and remotes needed AA batteries: “Unless you own rechargeable batteries, it becomes a little costly to get new ones.” Some online reviewers also felt that the car’s sounds were too loud and wished there was a way to control the volume.
Test Results: Educational Insights Design & Drill Activity Center (Runner-Up, Best Overall)
What We Like
Helps with fine motor skills
Requires little setup
What We Don't Like
Difficult to clean up
Our testers found that this toy kept their 3-year-olds entertained and also incorporated useful skills. “It's nice to know [kids’] playtime can be somewhat educational and inspirational from both an artistic and mechanical perspective,” one of our reviewers observed. Our testers also liked that it required little setup on the parents’ part and was quiet. One of our reviewers noted, “I really like how this simultaneously engages their imagination and fine motor skills but doesn't inundate them (and me) with bright flashing lights and obnoxious, repetitive songs.” On the other hand, cleanup and storage of all the tiny pieces proved both difficult and time consuming, according to our testers.
Test Results: The Original Stomp Rocket Jr. Glow, 4 Rockets (Best Retro)
What We Like
Teaches hand-eye coordination
Exciting to launch
Requires no batteries
What We Don't Like
Glow-in-the-dark feature didn’t work
Our testers thought this toy was exciting, quiet, and educational. “In addition to the excitement factor, there is the opportunity to teach simple science terminology, like trajectory, angle, force, and so it's simultaneously a hands-on active toy, but also educational,” one of our reviewers remarked. In terms of downsides, one of our testers was disappointed that it did not glow in the dark as advertised. Our reviewers also felt it wasn’t very stable and the base of the launcher needed to be reset often. As far as the kids were concerned, though, the toy seemed to be a winner: “It did bring my sons great joy and excitement when they launched the rockets outside (and inside off the ceiling and up a flight of stairs),” concluded one of our testers.
Test Results: VTech KidiBeats Kids Drum Set (Best Musical)
What We Like
Entertaining lights and noises
Freestyle mode lets children experiment
What We Don't Like
Doesn’t foster prolonged play
With all its flashing lights and sounds, the VTech KidiBeats Kids Drum Set is entertaining for children, but can quickly become annoying for parents, according to our testers. Our reviewers particularly liked the “freestyle mode where children can play and experiment on their own” and the “frustration-free packaging.” However, while “initially entertaining and alluring to small children,” one of our testers warned, “It’s overly complicated and overly stimulating with its various noises and sounds, encouraging passivity rather than prolonged play and exploration.”