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All I Want for Christmas is...30 Gift Ideas for 3 to 5 year-olds

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As a speech-language pathologist and mom of a preschooler, I am always looking for toys that are both fun and educational. According to Pathways.org, three year-olds should be engaging in what is referred to as “associate play.” During this time, children may be doing related activities instead of directly interacting with kids around them. They enjoy playing with new toys in a variety of ways, including blocks, dolls, dollhouses, vehicles and musical toys. While many toys have the “not suitable for children under 3” label, children at age three are less likely to put everything in their mouths. Therefore, they are able to play with toys that have more parts and smaller pieces than they were at 2 years old.


Toys that are appropriate for most three year-olds will also be appropriate at age four and five. Four year-olds should be engaging in “cooperative play” with other children. This is when children practice taking turns and sharing with others, which are necessary skills for successful social interaction. At this stage in development, preschool children are likely to be observed building, pretending and being creative. In order to foster speech and language development, social skills and critical thinking in your child, try to buy gifts that allow them to practice these skills.


I’m often asked for toy recommendations for early language development by both parents and other speech-language pathologists. If you haven’t already, please check out our blog post with our top 25 toys for toddlers. Today’s post is a special holiday edition that includes a list of Christmas gifts that are sure to inspire creativity, problem-solving and communication skills in the three- to five-year old children in your life. Whether you are a parent or grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin, you can use this list as your go-to holiday shopping guide. If you celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or have a winter birthday celebration coming up, these toys are appropriate for year-round play.


How to Use This List

This list is sequenced in order of suggested age range, and some toys may be appropriate for multiple ages. For example, some toys may have an appropriate age range of 3 to 6 years, while others may be suitable for 4 years and older. The toys with no ending age may be appropriate for children up to 8 years old or even older. These type of toys offer the best value, as your child will enjoy them for many years to come.


Instead of including the current prices of the toys, the price range is represented by one or more $. This is because prices change daily--especially during the Black Friday sales. So use this key as a general guide:

$: under $25

$$: $25-$50

$$$: $50-$75

$$$$: over $75


While this list includes Amazon links, you are more than welcome to shop around for better prices. My hope is that by including these links, it will make your holiday shopping easy and stress free! Without further ado, here is the list of my top 30 gift ideas for 3-5 year-olds.

Holiday Shopping List for 3-5 Year-Olds

  1. Kinetic Sand, Satisfying Set

  2. Water Doodle Mat

  3. Melissa & Doug Wooden Train Cars

  4. Melissa & Doug Wooden Building Blocks Set

  5. Picasso Tiles 60 Piece Set

  6. Melissa & Doug Latches Barn Toy

  7. 82 Piece Animal Figurines

  8. Melissa & Doug Mine to Love Jenna 12" Soft Body Baby Doll

  9. Melissa & Doug Mine to Love Gabrielle 12" Poseable Baby Doll

  10. Melissa & Doug Mine to Love Time to Eat Doll Accessories Feeding Set

  11. Fisher-Price Medical Kit, Preschool Pretend Doctor Playset

  12. Melissa & Doug Examine and Treat Pet Vet Play Set

  13. Melissa & Doug Wooden Scoop and Serve Ice Cream Counter

  14. Melissa & Doug Scoop and Stack Ice Cream Cone Magnetic Pretend Play Set

  15. Melissa & Doug Wooden Frozen Treats Ice Cream Play Set

  16. Melissa & Doug Smoothie Maker Blender Set

  17. Melissa & Doug Slice and Bake Wooden Cookie Play Food Set

  18. Melissa & Doug Wooden Slice & Stack Sandwich Counter

  19. Melissa & Doug Top & Bake Wooden Pizza Counter Play Set

  20. Melissa & Doug Wooden Pizza Play Food Set

  21. Melissa & Doug Cutting Fruit Set

  22. Melissa & Doug Food Groups

  23. Pretex Kids Pretend and Play Cash Register Toy

  24. KidKraft Everyday Heroes Wooden Playset

  25. KidKraft Chelsea Doll Cottage Wooden Dollhouse

  26. KidKraft Mosaic Magnetic Play Kitchen

  27. ThinkFun Zingo

  28. PLAYMOBIL Take Along Modern Doll House

  29. PLAYMOBIL City Life Playground

  30. PLAYMOBIL Grocery Shop


Kinetic Sand

Age range: 3 years old and up

Features: Build vocabulary as your child uses the sand to mix, squish, cut, scoop, twist and more.

Best for: Interactive and creative play

Price: $



Water Doodle Mat

Age range: 3 years old and up

Features: Fill the pen with clean water and children can "paint" on the drawing mat again and again.

Best for: Interactive and creative play

Price: $$



Melissa & Doug Wooden Train Cars

Age range: 3 to 6 years

Features: This train set includes eight linkable wooden train cars, each approximately three inches long.

Best for: Imaginative play

Price: $



Melissa and Doug Wooden Building Blocks Set

Age range: 2 to 8 years

Features: This set includes 100 wooden blocks in 4 different colors and 9 shapes. This takes your child a step beyond the typical square and rectangular shaped blocks for endless possibilities.

Best for: Interactive and creative play

Price: $



Picasso Tiles 60 Piece Set

Age range: 3 years old and up

Features: This is a less expensive alternative to Magna Tiles and allows children to construct 3D shapes. They easily stack and store away.

Best for: Creative and pretend play

Price: $$



Melissa and Doug Latches Barn Toy

Age range: 3 to 5 years

Features: This barn toy includes four animal figures and features working latches and locks on doors that open and close.

Best for: Vocabulary building, pretend play and storytelling

Price: $$



82 Piece Animal Toy

Age range: 3 years old and up

Features: This set includes 16 insects, 12 dinosaurs, 12 ocean animals, 12 farm animals, 12 wild animal, 12 dogs. Each is approximately 1-2 inches x 2-3 inches.

Best for: Vocabulary building and imaginative play

Price: $$



Melissa & Doug Mine to Love Jenna 12" Soft Body Baby Doll

Age range: 3 to 6 years

Features: This doll's eyes open and close, and she can suck either her thumb or pacifier.

Best for: Pretend play

Price: $



Melissa & Doug Mine to Love Gabrielle 12" Poseable Baby Doll

Age range: 3 to 6 years

Features: This doll's eyes open and close, and she can suck either her thumb or pacifier.

Best for: Pretend play

Price: $



Melissa & Doug Mine to Love Time to Eat Doll Accessories Feeding Set

Age range: 3 to 6 years

Features: This doll accessory set includes two bottles, a divided dish, fork, spoon and play food. It pairs perfectly with the Jenna or Gabrielle dolls above.

Best for: Pretend play

Price: $



Fisher-Price Medical Kit

Age range:

Features: This medical kit includes a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, thermometer, otoscope, syringe, bandage & fabric "doctor" bag.

Best for: Pretend play

Price: $



Melissa & Doug Examine and Treat Pet Vet Play Set

Age range: 3 years old and up

Features: This vet kit includes a stuffed dog and cat, pretend play vet medical equipment and a tote bag for easy storage.

Best for: Pretend play

Price: $$


Melissa & Doug Wooden Scoop and Serve Ice Cream Counter

Age range: 3 to 6 years

Features: This toy includes eight ice cream scoops, six toppings, two cones, a cup, scooper, tongs, wooden spoon and pretend dollar 1 bills.

Best for: Interactive and pretend play

Price: $$



Melissa & Doug Scoop and Stack Ice Cream Cone

Age range: 3 to 5 years

Features: This ice cream set includes four magnetic ice-cream scoops, two cones and a magnetic scooper.

Best for: Interactive and pretend play

Price: $$



Melissa & Doug Wooden Frozen Treats Ice Cream Play Set

Age range: 3 to 6 years

Features: Your child can make dozens of combinations with 6 cookies, 3 ice cream fillings, 2 double-sided Italian ice inserts, 6 multicolored ice pop halves, 2 Italian ice cups with lids, 2 spoons and a menu card.

Best for: Interactive and creative play

Price: $



Melissa & Doug Smoothie Maker Blender Set

Age range: 3 to 6 years

Features: This blender set allows your child to spin the know to pretend to make multiple smoothie flavors with the included base, jar and lid. Place your order from the menu and watch your child chop the wooden fruit and vegetables with the included knife.

Best for: Pretend play

Price: $$



Melissa & Doug Slice and Bake Wooden Cookie Play Food Set

Age range: 3 to 5 years

Features: Your child can pretend to bake, decorate, and serve cookies with this bake set, which includes 12 sliceable cookies, 12 toppings, knife, spatula, cookie sheet and kitchen mitt.

Best for: Pretend play

Price: $



Melissa & Doug Wooden Slice & Stack Sandwich Counter

Age range: 3 to 6 years

Features: This 52-piece sandwich counter includes wooden and felt pieces, a menu and pretend prep instructions.

Best for: Pretend play

Price: $$



Melissa & Doug Top & Bake Wooden Pizza Counter Play Set

Age range: 3 to 6 years old

Features: This play food set comes with 34 toppings, which enables your child to make your pretend pizza-to-order.

Best for: Pretend play

Price: $$



Melissa & Doug Wooden Pizza Play Food Set

Age range: 3 to 5 years old

Features: This play food set comes with six sliceable wooden pizza slices and more than 30 toppings.

Best for: Pretend play

Price: $



Melissa and Doug Cutting Fruit Set

Age range: 3 to 5 years

Features: This 17-piece play-food set comes with a wooden knife that provides a realistic "crunching" sound when the fruits are sliced.

Best for: Pretend play and vocabulary building

Price: $



Melissa and Doug Food Groups

Age range: 3 to 6 years

Features: This play food set comes with 4 food groups, which will help your child with vocabulary, categories and sorting.

Best for: Pretend play and vocabulary building

Price: $




Kids Pretend and Play Cash Register Toy

Age range: 3 years old and up

Features: This cash register comes with a real calculator and scanner, mic speaker, play money and sound effects.

Best for: Pretend play

Price: $



KidKraft Everyday Heroes Wooden Playset

Age range: 3 years old and up

Features: This three-story playset comes with 35 accessories, including bendable figures, a helicopter, motorcycle and fire truck.

Best for: Pretend play and vocabulary building

Price: $$$$



KidKraft Chelsea Doll Cottage Wooden Dollhouse

Age range: 3 years old and up

Features: This 3-story wooden dollhouse comes with 16 accessories and fits 5-inch dolls.

Best for: Pretend play and vocabulary building

Price: $$$$



KidKraft Mosaic Magnetic Play Kitchen

Age range: 3 years old and up

Features: This full-size kitchen is complete with a refrigerator, freezer, microwave, oven, stovetop and sink. The included magnets stick to the refrigerator, which is equipped with a working ice dispenser.

Best for: Pretend play

Price: $$$$



ThinkFun Zingo Bingo

Age range: 4 years old and up

Features: This is a play on the classic "Bingo" game and builds language and matching skills in preschool kids.

Best for: Interactive play and vocabulary building

Price: $



PLAYMOBIL Take Along Modern Doll House

Age range: 4 years old and up

Features: This 2-story play house includes three figures, two dogs, baby bottle, highchair and more.

Best for: Pretend play

Price: $$



PLAYMOBIL City Life Playground

Age range: 4 years old and up

Features: This playground set includes seven children figures, two adult figures, playground equipment, toy food and even animals to mimic a large park.

Best for: Pretend play

Price: $$$



PLAYMOBIL Grocery Shop

Age range: 5 years old and up

Features: This grocery store set includes two adult figures, one child figure, food, cash register and many other accessories.

Best for: Interactive and pretend play

Price: $$$


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Joyce is very knowledgeable. Not only as a speech therapist but also on how the school system works. Which is very helpful going through the IEP process. She was able to engage with my daughter and was never hesitant to help in any way. I would definitely recommend Joyce to anyone that is looking for a trustworthy, caring and informed speech therapist.

- AUTUMN MARSHALL, PARENT