The Best Educational Toys for Your 3 Year Old

I honestly can’t even believe I’m writing this. How is it possible that my daughter is turning three this year?!

Her birthday is still a few months away, but I like to plan ahead when it comes to birthdays and Christmas. I always start looking for gifts months earlier than I probably need to!

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

This year I want to make sure that the gifts she receives serve a real purpose. This fall I’m going to take educating her a little more seriously. It’s not that I don’t teach her how to do things already, but since I plan to homeschool her, I want to start laying the foundation for that this year.

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She’s only going to be three, though, so I’m not going to go crazy. I don’t expect her to sit down and learn about one specific subject for an hour.

No, this year things will be fun. We’ll play and go to fun places, but there will be more purpose behind these activities.

This change of pace is more about getting myself used to the idea of homeschooling. Making sure I take her to the local children’s museum and library weekly. Going out of my way to point things out at the park and teach her about them rather than letting her spend all her time on the slide. Reading more, writing more, coloring more, painting more. And playing more.

Well, I’ll be playing more. Bee’s favorite way to learn, as I’m sure is the case for most kids her age, is through play.

Normally I let her play by herself. She’s pretty independent and can spend an hour in her bedroom playing with her toys or trying to read books without bothering to check up on me.

It’s been great, especially for me. Most days she doesn’t drive me crazy and it’s always given me a lot of time to spend writing posts like this on my blog.

This fall I plan to participate more in her usually solitary play sessions. I know she’s learning through independent play, but I want to make sure she’s learning as much as she can.

So, what’s our curriculum going to look like? A whole lot of toys!

Some of these toys she already has, others are toys I’m seriously considering buying her (or telling family members they’d make great birthday and Christmas gifts). For the most part, I’m going to try to avoid putting her in front of a screen, so don’t expect to find any tablet-esque toys on this list.

VTech Touch & Learn Activity Desk

This toy features over 100 vocabulary words, 20 different activities and more than 20 songs and melodies.

You can buy expansion packs for it, too, that teach your kid everything from nursery rhymes to early math.


AquaDoodle Drawing Mat

This drawing mat is completely mess free! The pen runs off water!

I’m not sure what the science behind it is, but anytime we can avoid making messes, I’m a fan.


Wondertoys Wooden Clock

I’ve heard some schools have stopped teaching kids how to tell time on an analog clock! How crazy is that?

Make sure your child learns how to tell time with this toy!


VTech Drill & Learn Toolbox

This toy comes with a working drill that spins the gears and drills screws into the holes on the toy’s tray.


Drill & Play Creative Toy

Including a real (but safe) drill, this toy improves kids creativity, imagination, coordination and fine motor skills.



Learning Resources Mini Muffin Match Up

By using this toy, your kids are better developing their color recognition, counting, matching, sorting, and early math skills.


Skoolzy Peg Board Set

This sorting and stacking toy helps teach kids their colors and develop their fine motor skills.


Let’s Play House Play Set

We got this for Bee on her second Christmas, even though it isn’t recommended for kids that young. Since then, it’s been one of her favorite toys.

She’s always trying to help me clean with her broom and duster. Although I’m pretty sure she’s making my job harder than it needs to be, it’s a great way to get her used to cleaning.


Sandwich Making Set

I could have a lot of fun with this toy, making jokes about Bee belonging in the kitchen and making sandwiches regularly.

All jokes aside, it would be a great way to introduce her to the concept of making sandwiches before letting her make a real sandwich.


Food Cutting Play Set

Why not teach our kids how to cut food while we’re at it?


LeapFrog LeapStart

I think this is a great tool.

Although my daughter is still too young to use it well without my help, we have a lot of fun when we use it together. The only downside is that you have to buy books to go with the LeapStart. An upside to that downside, though, is that there are a lot of books for kids of all ages.


Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar

Bee got this for Christmas and I think it’s a lot of fun. She, on the other hand, is slightly afraid of it.

Each piece of this code-a-pillar makes the toy do something different. One piece may make it go in a straight line, while the next one makes it turn left.

The pieces connect to the head of the code-a-pillar by USB and are completely interchangeable.


Magnetic Drawing Board

Just a basic magnetic drawing board.

My favorite thing about this toy is that it’s clean. Bee can’t draw on the walls or eat the pen unlike when she’s using crayons.

Bee loves how easy it is to erase one masterpiece and start another.


Fisher-Price Think & Learn Alpha Slide Writer

This is another magnetic drawing board, but with a different purpose than the first.

This board is specifically for writing letters and words. You can create words for your child to write using the movable letter tiles.


Wooden Abacus

An old school toy, but a great way to teach kids how to count and do simple math!


Magical Magnets

This toy helps teach kids about colors and shapes while also developing their creativity.


3 Letter Word Puzzles

The box may claim it’s for kids 4+, but there’s nothing wrong with introducing your 3-year-old to the idea of creating and sounding out words.


Ready, Set, School!

This kit is pretty neat! I actually already bought it for Bee and it will sit in my closet until this fall.

It says it comes with items that help teach kids their shapes, colors, ABCs, 123’s, writing, cutting, and how to tie their shoes.


Hide & Seek Learning Toy

This toy has great reviews, with one customer calling it a fantastic old-school toy. I definitely like the sound of that.

It looks like a great little toy to help teach your kid letters, colors, and objects. And it’s actually really affordable, too!


Caterpillar Building Blocks

This toy is pretty cool, and a great way to help build better hand-eye coordination.

The concept is the same as any other building blocks, but you can create things that you never could with Legos.


Fingerpaint Kit

Some people introduce their kids to fingerpaints at a much younger age, but Bee has honestly never used them.

Not that she doesn’t want to. She may not know fingerpaints exist, but she “paints” the shower walls with bubbles on her hands every night. She even says “I’m painting!”.

I think it’s about time we dive into the world of fingerpainting, even if I’m not a fan of the messiness.


My First Microscope

Find out if your 3-year-old is a scientist in the making!

Place a variety of objects under the lens and let your kid see small details they’d never noticed before.


Junior Binoculars

Although it only has a 2x magnification (definitely won’t be using it for scouting or hunting!), your child will get a kick out of looking at things from a new perspective.




I had these as a kid and loved them! I honestly thought they weren’t around anymore as I haven’t seen them in stores in a very long time.

It was pretty exciting to find them on Amazon after so many years!


United States of America Floor Puzzle

You’re never too young to start learning about your country!

This giant floor puzzle is a great way to teach kids about the states and their capitals.

Will you be purchasing any of these toys for your 3-year-old? Do you already own some of these toys? Which toys do you think would be the best bang for your buck? Which ones do you think are just so-so and not worth investing in?

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