“Actually, Mama, I was thinking about chocolate cupcakes.” My nearly 4 year old lays her little hand on my arm and smiles conspiratorially. We’re planning her 4th birthday party coming up in just a few short weeks and I cannot believe how grown up she seems at times. Suddenly she has major opinions, ideas, and her imagination is flourishing. She also has a ton of toys already, and we’re planning a big move in just a few months. So I need to be very intentional about my choices of gifts for preschoolers.
My daughter’s birthday is just the start of preschool party season. Here are some out of the box gifts for preschoolers to promote learning and imagination, that won’t create clutter in your house.15 unique gifts for preschoolers to foster imagination & won’t clutter your house.Click To Tweet
Gifts for Preschoolers That Foster Their New Imagination
Imaginative play peaks during the preschool years so look for gifts for preschoolers that will foster that new cognitive stage.
These backyard field binoculars are so fun for kids who like to pretend to be on a safari adventure. See what exciting birds and bugs your kiddo can identify. I’m sure they could also double as part of a spy kit!
Picnic Party Kit
My daughter loves her tea set but now that it’s getting hot and we’re playing outside more, she’s asking to play pretend picnic often. Little did I know, there is this awesome pretend picnic kit with cuttable wood food. She actually asked for her birthday party to be a picnic party so this is perfect! It’s a fun spin on the classic tea party for summer.
Or if your preschooler just wants to take his or her tea party on the go, this ALEX Toys Tea Set Picnic Basket. Tin cups make sure that no one cries over spilled milk, or broken ceramic.
Of course, free form art is the ultimate imagination booster. My preschooler is obsessed with rocks, and crayons, so these Crayon Rocks would be perfect for her. Maybe this would save us from depleting our landscaping every time she sees a rock she wants to paint.
And if your preschooler likes to draw in the tub, these Endangered Species Bath Crayons are great. These don’t seem to dissolve as quickly as the ALEX Toys version, don’t use unnecessary plastic, and DO support the environment. Winner winner!
Focus on What Can The Kids Do With the Toys Rather Than the Other Way Around
The best advice I got for gifts for preschoolers was to focus on what the kid can do with the toy, rather than what the toy can do. I know I’m guilty of falling for the toy with the most bells and whistles, especially to entertain my younger son. But when thinking about gifts for preschoolers, I’m trying to focus on toys that she can play with in a multitude of ways. Rather than toys that direct her play toward just one way.Focus on what the kid can do with the toy, rather than what the toy can do with the kid.Click To Tweet
Kids love drawing, kids love magnets. Why not combine the two? This Jumbo Glow in the Dark Magnatab does just that, allowing your preschooler to draw with small magnetic bearing balls. But don’t worry, they’re all nicely contained in the MagnaTab so there’s no mess. And this version is extra-large and glows in the dark for those evening car or camping trips.
In about three years I’m sure I’ll be able to hand over all of the backend work on my website to my daughter. That’s because she’s going to learn to code with these awesome coding toys that are new on the scene.
The Primo Cubetto Children’s Programmable Robot is a Montessori-Approved friendly wooden robot that your preschooler can guide around a fairytale map by coding it’s path with various wooden pegs. Of course the $300 price tag is pretty steep for a little kid!
Fisher-Price’s Code-a-Pillar rings in at a much more reasonable $50 (on sale right now through the link below for $33!). Your preschooler can guide the caterpillar through various twists and turns to reach a target spot in the room by rearranging the caterpillar’s detachable body segments.
Moms in the know recommend getting the Basic Expansion Pack too so your preschooler doesn’t get frustrated when the Code-A-Pillar can’t quite corner as well as she’d like.
Upgrade Your Blocks
Think blocks are too basic as gifts for preschoolers? Is your preschooler bored with 2-D puzzle play? Then check out the Castle Logix blocks set. It’s a 3-D puzzle game where your preschooler will attempt to recreate the photos on the cards using the castle-shaped blocks. Of course she can definitely go off-book and just use her imagination to create the castle of her dreams.
Gifts for Preschoolers: Try Giving Experiences Instead of Toys
Sure, you probably remember your beloved CareBear and Cabbage Patch doll from when you were a preschooler, but often our fondest childhood memories are of our experiences. I remember pool parties, dance class, and visits from cousins far more fondly than I do my set of Breyer Horses.
Gifting experiences has the added benefit of not adding another toy to the jumble you have to clean up every night. I don’t know about you, by my preschooler isn’t quite on the “pick up all of my toys” train yet, and my toddler is just a tornado. So the fewer things we have to pick up at night, the better.
Here are some great ideas for experience gifts for preschoolers:
My First Movie
I have yet to brave taking my preschooler to the movie theater. She gets scared of Daniel Tiger sometimes so the fact that we couldn’t fast forward through the more dramatic scenes in Moana would not work. But, she’s getting better, and learning that she can just cover her eyes if she gets scared. So I’m working up the nerve to take her to the theater.
It would be so fun to make an event of this. Get a big bucket of buttery popcorn and a box of candy. Just skip the soda unless you want to take several potty breaks in the middle of the movie (or worse, have an accident because your child is too engrossed to notice they have to go!). Choose a safe G-rated movie if your kid is sensitive, and be prepared to walk round the theater a little if it gets too intense. Maybe invite a little preschooler buddy along to share the fun!
Local Fairytown or Train Town
I’m not sure where my preschooler even heard about the Fairyland that’s several hours from our home, but she did and she won’t stop talking about it. It’s just a little park with fairy houses and a couple tiny rides, but if I surprised her with a visit there, it would be engrained in her memory for a long time.
She recently went to the local Train Town and loved that too. I think it will be an even bigger hit with my vehicle-obsessed son in a few years.
Skating or Bowling
Who knew bowling was the perfect gift for preschoolers? We went to a bowling birthday party and my daughter flipped for it. Carrying a heavy ball, rolling it down the ramp, and watching it ricochet off the bumpers to knock down the pins had her screaming with delight. Gifting her a bowling night (or couple of nights) would be a hit, even better if it was just a Mommy or Daddy and me special event sans little bro.
There are so many tools to help kids skate these days, either on the ice or land. Our local roller rink has special times that moms can walk with their skating kiddos and push the littler ones in a stroller. They also have walker-like props to help the kids stay balanced. Our ice skating rink has these sledges that look like penguins to make it fun to hold on tight. A skating party or gift certificate for a skating night would be a great gift for preschoolers.
Paint Your Own Pottery
Ok, so this one will result in at least one new object entering your home, but the experience is a gift too. Kids love watching things transform, especially if they had a hand in doing it. Paint your own pottery places allow preschoolers to get super creative with mugs, statues, even maybe their own tea set, and then come back in a week to see their creations fired and glazed. It’s a great party idea or gift for preschoolers!
Jump Gym or Gymnastics Facility
Most preschoolers love all things trampoline, so if there’s a trampoline park in your area, see if they have a time set aside just for littles. Otherwise it can be intimidating for the preschoolers and the parents to watch 80lb preteens catapulting their body weight directly at your precious.
If there’s no Jump Gym near you, try the local gymnastics facility. Often there will be a family free play time, or structured classes for the young ones. Kids will get a kick out of using the same equipment real gymnasts use!
Gifts for preschoolers can be more than just noise machines with lights. Use this opportunity to promote learning, imagination and independent play because Lord knows all we Mamas need more of that in our lives!Gifts for preschoolers can be more than just noise machines with lights. Promote independent play!Click To Tweet
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