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Best toys for preschoolers 2022: Educational toys for growing minds

Best toys for preschoolers 2022 - Skillmatics Educational Game: I Can Write_erasable mat
(Image credit: Skillmatics Educational Game: I Can Write)

Toys are the gateway that let children build their imagination and spark their creativity. Children, especially at the preschool age, are entering the stage of life where they are becoming even more curious than ever about the world around them. Things like imaginative play help them develop their own ways of seeing the world, teaching them important lessons as they grow. Physical play helps them to develop the fine motor skills necessary to perform tasks. Each type of play gives a child the opportunity to grow, advance, and learn. But, which type of toy should you pick for your preschooler?

As children between the ages of 3-5 grow, they will sometimes begin to lose interest in things that once captivated them in the toddler or infant stages. When this happens, you will know it’s time to start looking at toys that can help educate your child as well as entertain them.

However, the toy market is huge; there are thousands of different brands to choose from. Each toy has its own function, sometimes making it a monumental endeavor to sort through them all. However, finding the right toys that can help your preschooler explore their inquisitiveness is crucial. At Live Science, we’ve rounded up the best toys for preschoolers.

For more types of toys for preschoolers, check out Live Science’s other deal guides for the best science toys for kids.


Melissa & Doug standard unit solid-wood building blocks with wooden storage tray

(Image credit: Melissa & Doug)

1. Melissa & Doug standard unit solid-wood building blocks with wooden storage tray

Specifications

Price: $79.09
Age range: 3-8 years
Brand: Melissa & Doug

Reasons to buy

+
Trustworthy brand
+
Come with wooden crate for storage
+
Solid wood so strong and durable

Reasons to avoid

-
No lacquer finish
-
No colors
-
Not all blocks are consistent in shape

The Melissa & Doug Standard Unit Solid-Wood Building Blocks gives your preschooler the tools to create any shape they can think of, giving them a chance to activate their imagination. The blocks can be used as an educational tool as well, teaching them everything from basic math principles, sorting, and more. With this knowledge, your preschooler will be well on their way to being the top of the class. The set is made for children ages 3-8, meaning they can play with them for years to come. You won’t have to worry about your child getting a splinter either with these wooden blocks as they are sanded smooth to create a fine, natural finish. Melissa & Doug, one of the most recognizable children’s toy brands, is also known for creating high-quality, great toys for preschoolers.


Lego Duplo classic brick box (65 pieces)

(Image credit: Lego Duplo)

2. Lego Duplo classic brick box (65 pieces)

Specifications

Price: $29.99
Age range: 18+ months
Brand: Lego

Reasons to buy

+
Comes with handy storage box
+
Not just bricks, includes other fun accessories like a car

Reasons to avoid

-
Only 2 small characters are included
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No platform or base to build upon

Lego toys have been a fan-favorite for decades because of their versatility and ability to create a fun play experience for any age. This Classic Brick Box set includes over 60 pieces to help your preschooler build their own colorful world. There are two small characters included for them to play with, along with a car, roof, window, flowers, and bread. These are all identifiable objects for preschoolers, meaning your child will be able to place them within whatever they create with ease. It also comes with numbered learning bricks, so they can brush up on their counting skills as well. Reviewers love this set because of its colorful pieces and reputable brand.


Mr. Potato Head Silly Suitcase parts and pieces

(Image credit: Mr. Potato Head)

3. Mr. Potato Head Silly Suitcase parts and pieces

Specifications

Price: $22.99
Age range: 2+ years
Brand: Mr. Potato Head

Reasons to buy

+
Guaranteed laughs
+
Comes with 35 different pieces
+
Parts interchangeable with other Mr./Mrs. Potato Heads

Reasons to avoid

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Reviewers report that the suitcase is hard to close at times
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Some pieces can be very hard to push in and may require adult help

Your preschooler will love mixing and matching the 35 unique pieces on Mr. Potato Head’s face. From the different eyes, noses, arms, and ears that come with the Silly Suitcase set, your child can have Mr. Potato Head express himself whichever way they want to. This toy is great for fine tuning those motor skills as the pieces are all lightweight. For the most part, small hands can easily put on and remove parts by themselves, although sometimes they might need a little assistance. Conveniently, all the pieces can be stored inside a handy suitcase – eliminating the risk of losing parts. Children ages two and up can enjoy the Silly Suitcase playset by itself or with other Mr. Potato Head products, as all the parts can be used synonymously.


Lemofix matching letter spelling game for kids

(Image credit: Lemofix)

4. Matching letter spelling game for kids

Specifications

Price: $11.99
Age range: 3-7 years
Brand: Lemofix

Reasons to buy

+
Reasonable price point
+
Fun parent-child activity
+
Helps with letter recognition and spelling

Reasons to avoid

-
Needs more letter cubes with common letters such as E, S, and T
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Includes ‘beer’ flash card which some reviewers found inappropriate for youngsters

Spelling toys are the perfect way to introduce your children to reading, especially if they are just starting out learning their letters. Prepare them for preschool by helping them learn how to read with this interactive toy! To start, help them recognize the picture on the card. Then, they can arrange the letters in the small tray that is included. This is a fun way to incorporate education into playtime. This set includes one tray, eight letter cubes, and 36 picture cards with three and four letter words on them. Parents and teachers alike love this set because it provides hands-on fun for children to learn with.


CoolToys Monkey Balance Math Game

(Image credit: CoolToys)

5. CoolToys Monkey Balance Math Game

Specifications

Price: $19.99
Age range: 3+ years
Brand: CoolToys

Reasons to buy

+
Can be used with individual children or groups
+
Colorful and engaging

Reasons to avoid

-
Can only explore numbers up to 19
-
Monkey figures are quite small and can be easily lost

If you’re looking for a way to incorporate math into playtime, the CoolToys Monkey Balance Math Game is a must-have. To start learning basic math principles like addition and subtraction, all you first have to do is have your preschooler pick a card with a number on it. Then, find the corresponding number figure and place it on the scale. After that, add however many monkeys you need to equal the number. The scale will balance itself out! This toy set will allow you to have educational, interactive fun with your preschooler without being a mess or burdensome.


Skillmatics Educational Game: I Can Write

(Image credit: Skillmatics Educational Game)

6. Skillmatics Educational Game: I Can Write

Specifications

Price: $24.97
Age range: 3-6 years
Brand: Skillmatics

Reasons to buy

+
Comes with reusable, dry-erase mats
+
Has easy-to-follow instructions

Reasons to avoid

-
Only contains six double-sided mats
-
Would be nice to include more pens in a variety of colors (only comes with one black and one color)

The Skillmatics Educational Game: I Can Write will start your preschooler’s play time off right by helping them learn about important skills. They will learn how to solve problems, develop critical and creative thinking skills, and strengthen their focus. Plus, all kids love to use dry erase markers, right? This set comes with two “Skilly Billy'' markers, six double-sided activity mats, and a duster cloth. This set helps your child practice the key patterns and strokes needed to help hone their writing skills in a fun way. There is even an achievement certificate for when they work through each mat, providing them with a sense of accomplishment after all they have learned! This set is perfect for younger children who are about to enter preschool, or those already in preschool who want to brush up on their skills.


Smarkids Toddler Musical Instruments

(Image credit: Smarkids)

7. Smarkids Toddler Musical Instruments

Specifications

Price: $34.99
Age range: 3+ years
Brand: Smarkids

Reasons to buy

+
Strong and durable
+
Comes with a sturdy backpack carrying case
+
Real tuned musical instruments - not just toys!

Reasons to avoid

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Loud
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Tamborine made with real sheepskin could be an issue for some

Your preschooler will be able to explore their musical skills with this Smarkids Toddler Musical Instrument set! Made of wood and stainless steel, these instruments are perfectly safe for children ages 3 and up to play with. These are definitely not just toys, but actual musical instruments made for small hands, which means they sound good and will be able to take a beating. So, your child will be able to make music for years to come with this fun set. Little ones will love creating new tunes with the included xylophone, tambourine, recorder, maracas, cymbals, triangle, wrist bells, and shaker eggs. Parents love this set because of the diversity of musical instruments included, along with the handy carrying case which is a cute backpack so the instruments can be stored or transported easily.


Educational Insights Playfoam Sand Sundae Set

(Image credit: Educational Insights)

8. Educational Insights Playfoam Sand Sundae Set

Specifications

Price: $21.99
Age range: 3+ years
Brand: Educational Insights

Reasons to buy

+
Comes with cards to guide sundae creation
+
Great for sensory learning and play

Reasons to avoid

-
Playfoam sand can get messy compared to other materials
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Only two colors of playfoam sand

If you asked your preschooler what their favorite sweet treat was, they’d probably say ice cream or something similar. Since ice cream is a preschooler favorite, it’s the perfect way to introduce sensory play into your child’s routine. The Educational Insights Playfoam Sand Sundae Set includes playfoam sand in bright yellow and pink colors for your child to mold into the perfect ice cream sundae. Toppings like cherries, strawberries, and sprinkles are also included for them to decorate with. This toy set helps preschoolers to explore shapes, colors, matching, and other important motor skills they need to know before starting school. It is also the perfect de-stressing activity for children with anxiety thanks to the unique soft and soothing sensation of the playfoam sand.


VATENIC Digital Video Camera

(Image credit: VATENIC)

9. VATENIC Digital Video Camera

Specifications

Price: $29.99
Age range: 3+ years
Brand: VATENIC

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to comprehend for preschoolers
+
Comes in three colors: green, pink, and blue
+
Protective, shockproof body

Reasons to avoid

-
Not waterproof
-
Can be damaged if not used on the lanyard

Taking pictures is a way for people to connect with each other, so why should preschoolers be left out of the fun? The VATENIC Digital Video Camera is the perfect option for kids that are just starting to get interested in technology. The camera itself is capable of taking 20mp photos and 1080p videos, with the additional bonus of being able to add funky frames and filters. Plus, it also includes some fun games as extras. Made out of shockproof and non-toxic materials, the VATENIC Digital Video Camera is safe for your preschooler to use in any situation. It can also withstand being dropped, although it is recommended that children keep it on the lanyard to prevent too much damage. It comes with a cord to hook up to a computer and a 32 GB memory card. With these tools, pictures can be transferred and stored on the computer with ease.


Boxiki Kids Learning Pad and Kids Phone

(Image credit: Boxiki Kids)

10. Boxiki Kids Learning Pad/Kids Phone

Specifications

Price: $34.99
Age range: 3+ years
Brand: Boxiki Kids

Reasons to buy

+
Long battery life
+
Portable
+
Durable plastic 

Reasons to avoid

-
Only comes with six functions for children to play with
-
Voice is a bit robotic
-
Not a real touch screen, just an image

With technology playing a larger role in children’s lives than in the past, this FunPhone is the perfect way to introduce your children to it in an educational way. Standing at just 4.7in wide and 8.1 inches tall, this small tablet includes six toddler education functions that help engage preschool-age children for hours at a time. There are over 100 sounds, songs, and melodies and three educational modes - letter and word identification, spelling, and a quiz mode. The FunPhone will allow your child to engage with basic reading and math concepts. Reviewers love this kids tablet because it is convenient to travel with, does not have to use Wi-Fi, and only needs 3 AA batteries to work.

Bailee Boggess McCoy is a freelance writer and editor with a focus on adoption, clinical research, geriatrics, psychology, culture, social work,  neuroscience and more. She has written for many health websites and publications, along with doing many ghostwriting projects and email campaigns. In addition to her work as a writer, she has worked as a researcher at an Alzheimer’s disease research facility with projects focusing on Black older adults and racial trauma. Her scientific research has been presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference and published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Associated Disorders. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Georgetown College in 2018. She also studied neurolinguistics and developmental psychology at the University of Oxford. By the end of 2021, she will have her Master's in Social Work degree. When she’s not writing or researching, she enjoys playing with her dog, trying new cuisines, reading, and traveling. She’s also a true crime enthusiast, passionate creative, and a lover of all things poetry.