The Best Toys for 3-Year-Olds That Make Learning Fun

Our top choice is the Fat Brain Toys Squigz Starter Set

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The 21 Best Toys for 3-Year-Olds in 2022

The Spruce / Chloe Jeong

Whether they encourage problem-solving or focus on developing fine motor skills, the best toys for 3-year-olds make learning fun.

We researched and tested the best toys on the market to find our top picks, evaluating educational value, engagement level, and durability. Our favorite is the Fat Brain Toys Squigz Starter Set, a colorful collection of stackable plastic shapes that provide a sensory experience for eyes, ears, and little hands. 

Here are the best toys for 3-year-olds.

Our Top Picks

Fat Brain Toys Squigz Starter Set - 24 pc.

4.8
Squigz

Fat Brain Toys

 

What We Like
  • Durable

  • STEM based

What We Don't Like
  • Can look suction over time

Squigz are brightly-colored doo-dads that can be stacked into an endless array of configurations or stuck to any flat, non-porous surface. 

Our tester loved that her little ones instinctively practiced categorizing the Squigz by color as they played and noted that they were endlessly entertained by the satisfying pop each piece made when pulled off a wall or window. 

The set comes packaged in a reusable plastic case, which keeps all the pieces in one place when you're on the go. Made from BPA- and latex-free silicone, they won't leave residue or marks on your surfaces and are the perfect toy for some bathtub fun. 

Dimensions: 3.15 x 2.76 x 5.91 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 3 years and up

What Testers Say

"Squigz are deceptively simple and incredibly portable. This single set can be a great bath time toy or an activity while making dinner (our son loved sticking these to the fridge)."—Shannon Wells, Product Tester

Little Tikes TotSports Easy Hit Golf Set

What We Like
  • Suitable for indoor of outdoor use

  • Suitable for a variety of ages

  • High quality

What We Don't Like
  • Difficult to assemble

Little ones are on their way to the Masters Tournament with this starter golf set. With three balls and two clubs, 3-year-olds can play together putting over and over again. This set is perfect for the backyard or the living room on rainy days for practice and play all year round.

Dimensions: 7.5 x 10.5 x 21.5 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 1 year and up

Reeves International The Big Dig Sandbox Digger Excavator Crane

5
Sand toy digger

Reeves International

 

What We Like
  • Sturdy

  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor use

  • Realistic

What We Don't Like
  • Parts may need replacing

Bring this to the beach, sandbox, or use it in your backyard. No matter where you use the crane, your kid will try and dig up whatever they can, all while honing those gross and fine motor skills. The toy rotates 360 degrees and can reach up to 33 inches—basically, it does a solid job digging and what kid wouldn't want to try that? This toy is suitable for children ages 3 and up and can hold 110 pounds.

Dimensions: 21.5 x 19.3 x 5.2 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 3 years and up

Reeves International The Big Dig Sandbox Digger Excavator Crane

The Spruce / Katie Begley

KidKraft Uptown Espresso Kitchen

4.8
KidKraft Uptown Espresso Kitchen

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Aesthetically pleasing

  • Many ways to play and enjoy

  • Suitable for various ages

What We Don't Like
  • Long assembly time

This is one sleek, cool kitchen set. It has the look of granite countertops and a tile backsplash as well as tons of shelves to store pots and pans. Kids will love turning and clicking the stove buttons or doodling on the chalkboard exterior of the fridge.

Dimensions: 43 x 17.7 x 41 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 3 years and up

Melissa & Doug Examine and Treat Pet Vet Play Set

What We Like
  • Educational

  • Detailed parts

  • Great quality

What We Don't Like
  • Can be difficult to store

Watch your children become veterinarians with this detailed and engaging play kit filled with plush animals and tools to help their "patients" feel better. The different pieces will keep little ones entertained for hours as they play and learn at the same time.

Dimensions: 10.7 x 3.5 x 13.75 inches | Material: Plush, plastic | Recommended Age: 3 years and up

Flybar My First Foam Pogo Jumper

What We Like
  • Silent

  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor use

  • Suitable for various ages

What We Don't Like
  • Can be flimsy

This foam pogo jumper is the perfect introduction to the fun and excitement of a pogo stick, without the squeaky thudding noise that traditional pogo sticks have. The foam and bungee material makes this jumper perfect for indoor and outdoor use, and toddlers can jump without noise as they conquer their fears and hone their skills.

Dimensions: ‎10.35 x 5.63 x 5 inches | Material: Foam | Recommended Age: 3 years and up

Tonies Toniebox Playtime Puppy Starter Set

Toniebox Playtime Puppy Starter Set

Courtesy of Tonies

What We Like
  • Engaging

  • Screen-free

  • Easy setup

What We Don't Like
  • Requires charging

If you're looking for a toy both you and your little one can enjoy, be sure to consider the Toniebox Playtime Puppy Starter Set. The audio system will play classic sing-alongs that'll entertain the 3-year-old in your life for hours.

The audio box is available in six colors and is made of a material that's soft enough to hold, but durable enough to withstand any rough play. The set, which includes a charging station, features a collection of popular children's tunes, from Wheels on the Bust to Baby Shark and beyond, that'll be a treat for the whole family.

Dimensions: Not Listed | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 3 years and up

ToyVelt Dinosaur Take Apart Toys

3.4
Dinosaur toys

ToyVelt

 

What We Like
  • Suitable for various ages

  • Entertaining

  • STEM based

What We Don't Like
  • Flimsy material

Take them back to prehistoric times with these take-apart toy dinosaurs. While the pack of six dinosaurs (featuring a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Brontosaurus, and a Triceratops) comes preassembled and ready for play, the real beauty of them is that kids can take them apart then rebuild them over and over again. The set has 218 pieces in all and comes with plastic screwdrivers to do all the work.

Dimensions: 10.35 x 10.35 x 7.32 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 3 years and up

What Testers Say

"If he has all six dinosaurs out and he isn’t parent-directed, it quickly turns into a demolition derby situation, which is a blast for him. It should be noted that even though the dinosaurs feel flimsy, they’ve withstood all the crashes.  "—Shannon Wells, Product Tester

Osmo Genius Starter Kit

Osmo's Genius Kit

 OSMO

What We Like
  • Educational

  • Suitable for independent play

  • Portable

What We Don't Like
  • Can be difficult to use with an iPad case

The genius behind the Osmo Kit for iPad is that rather than simply getting stuck behind a screen, kids are encouraged to use both technology and the compatible game mat to physically practice different skills. They might try forming letters with sticks and rings, dressing a doll using cardboard pieces, creating squiggle pictures (that can then be animated), and solving problems as they listen to stories.

Dimensions: 3 x 12 x 9.6 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 3 years and up

Hide N Side Ball Pit, Play Tent and Tunnels

Hide N Side Ball Pit, Play Tent and Tunnels

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor use

  • Climbing toy

  • Durable

  • Safe material

What We Don't Like
  • Difficult to put and stay together

Need a toy your toddler can enjoy for hours? This ball pit just might be the solution. The pop-up pit is easily portable whether you choose to set it up in the house, the backyard, or while on vacation. Kids will enjoy crawling through the tunnels, camping out in the tents, or trying to score a few baskets in the hoop. Just note: the balls are sold separately.

Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 2 inches | Material: Polyester Fabric | Recommended Age: 3 months and up

Ryan’s World Vending Surprise

Ryan's World Vending Surprise

Ryan's World

What We Like
  • Engaging

  • Suitable for various ages

  • Great bonding activity

What We Don't Like
  • Can be difficult to use

Ryan's World Toys are inspired by Ryan ToysReview, a YouTube channel named for its young star who's become famous for his videos reviewing products. This operational vending machine has surprises galore. Simply insert a coin to receive a toy that might have slime or a toy figure hidden inside. The machine has bright lights and even features phrases from Ryan.

Dimensions: 14.00 x 6.50 x 16.75 Inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 3 years and up

Kindi Kids Snack Time Friends, Marsha Mello

kindi-kindi-doll

Courtesy of Walmart 

What We Like
  • Suitable for various ages

  • Interactive

  • Engaging

What We Don't Like
  • Lack of corresponding clothes or accessories

Made by the creators of Shopkins, the colorful, glittery Kindi Kids dolls are aimed at preschoolers. Marsha Mello comes with a cake pop that can be fed to her, as well as a realistic-looking babycino with marshmallows that move up the straw. Kids will love taking her outfit and shoes off and on, as well as playing with fun details like her marshmallow ponytail holders.

Dimensions: 5.31 x 9.84 x 13.39 Inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 2 years and up

Sesame Street Love to Hug Elmo

love-to-hug-elmo

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Interactive

  • Easy to use and set off

What We Don't Like
  • Not as soft as advertised due to battery

Most 3-year-olds are excellent huggers, so why not let them practice their skills on this fun version of Sesame Street's beloved red monster? "Love to Hug" Elmo can speak English and Spanish, and lift his arms to ask for an embrace. When kids put their arms around him, he answers with kisses, songs, and phrases.

Dimensions: 5.25 x 11 x 18 inches | Material: Plush | Recommended Age: 18 months and up

Paw Patrol Mighty Pups Super Paws Lookout Tower Playset

Paw Patrol

Nickelodeon

What We Like
  • Recognizable

  • Engaging

What We Don't Like
  • Long assembly time

You might need to KonMari your kid's toys before ordering this fabulous-but-giant playset, which stands almost three feet tall and will be a guaranteed hit. Kids will stay busy for hours playing with the elevator, zip line, and six vehicle launch areas (note that the set only includes the Chase vehicle and pup, but others can be bought separately). Just like on the show, the tower has lots of flashing lights and sound effects, including Ryder's famous control-tower missions. 

Dimensions: 9 x 15 x 27 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 3 years and up

Play-Doh Stamp 'n Top Pizza Oven Toy

toy kitchen

Play-Doh

What We Like
  • Long play time

  • Entertaining

  • Fun concept

What We Don't Like
  • Pieces can be fickle

This detailed, pizza-themed Play-Doh set comes with a pretend oven that stamps and spins the pizza crust, as well as a cheese grater and molds for creating different toppings like vegetables and pepperoni. A pizza pan, cutter, and stand are also included for children looking to play restaurant and show off their masterpieces.

Dimensions: 3.49 x 12 x 13 inches | Material: Clay | Recommended Age: 3 years and up

Intex Playhouse Jump-O-Lene Inflatable Bouncer

Jump-o-lene

Intex

 

What We Like
  • Suitable for various ages

  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor use

  • Perfect for parties

What We Don't Like
  • Need large space

  • Can deflate easily

Instead of having them bounce off the walls with all of that three-year-old energy, this inflatable castle gives them a good alternative. While it can be used outside as well, it’s perfect for playrooms and those days when going outside just isn’t an option. It's big enough for a couple of little jumpers (it can hold up to 120 pounds), but not so big that it takes up an entire room.

Dimensions: 6 x 16 x 20 inches | Material: Acrylic Coated Cotton | Recommended Age: 3 years and up

What We Like
  • Adjustable to fit every child

  • Educational

  • Multiple uses

  • Sustainable materials

What We Don't Like
  • Assembly can be difficult

  • Pricey

This award-winning wooden building set gives kids the opportunity to build and fix things on their own. Along with the nifty tool bench that serves as both a workspace and storage compartment for all the tools, it comes with 32 different pieces including a hammer, screwdriver, wrench, and saw. Then there are nails, screws, nuts, and bolts for getting down to work. Once they get the hang of the tools, they can even take apart and rebuild the entire tool bench.

Dimensions: 21.65 x 11.06 x 31.77 inches | Material: Wood | Recommended Age: 3 years and up

Toomies Bath Foam Cone Factory Toy

Ice cream toy

Toomies 

What We Like
  • Suitable for various ages

  • Perfect for bath time

  • Engaging

What We Don't Like
  • Pieces can be fickle

Add some creativity to bath time with this clever cone factory set that uses bubble bath and water to help kids make ice cream confections in the comfort of the tub. This toy mounts easily to the bathrooms wall and includes three cones and a sprinkle shaker. Plus, besides the bathtub, this can also be mounted on a glass sliding door for when the temperatures rise. 

Dimensions: 11 x 4 x 11 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 18 months and up

What to Look for in a Toy for a 3-Year-Old

Recommended Age

The age recommendations on a toy’s packaging is a good judge of how safe and engaging a toy is, says Kristin Morency Goldman, senior advisor of strategic communications for The Toy Association. However, keep in mind it’s just a recommendation based on average maturity, motor skills, and cognitive development. Toys labeled 3+ may contain small parts that can be a choking hazard to toddlers, says Morency Goldman. If your child is three, but still putting many things in their mouth, err on the side of caution, and skip these items. 

Engagement

The best toys for 3-year-olds are ones that keep them engaged. If they figure out a puzzle too quickly or blaze through all the features of a toy, they may get bored. Consider how engaging a toy will be when you’re shopping—is there more than one way to play? Will it encourage them to be creative? Will it get old quickly? Asking yourself these questions as you shop will help you determine the value and longevity of the toy (in terms of whether you can see the toy growing with your child or not).

Educational Value

Many toys for children this age encourage them to learn new things while having fun. Consider educational value when shopping for toys–think building toys, crafting kits, musical instruments—these let your child have fun without having to sacrifice entertainment along the way.

Why Trust the Spruce?

This article was written by Julie Evans, a writer and editor who has worked with a host of diverse companies including Microsoft, USA Today, Realtor.com, Brit + Co, CafeMom, and SheKnows among others. She started writing for The Spruce in August 2017.

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