Great Preschool Learning Toys

Here is part three of my Got Preschoolers? series.
One of the most important things you can do for your preschooler is to read to them. Even wiggly little boys will sit for a story if you choose the right book.

Here are some of our favorites.

There are also many great toys for preschoolers. My preschoolers have always been very busy. Usually their busyness involves permanent marker and something that is valuable. I have found that the best way to keep a preschooler out of trouble is to keep them in your line of sight. For me, most of the time this means keeping them occupied at the table while I do school with the older kids.
Also, don’t be in a hurry to give your preschooler “older” toys. This can be difficult if you have older children too, but it is still possible. If your preschooler is given Legos, he will probably not want to play with Duplos. If you introduce markers, crayons are pushed to the side. Don’t rush your preschooler into a grade schooler. Keep their activities basic and educational. You will be surprised at how much your preschooler will learn from playing with these toys.

Tall Stacker Pegs Building Set I love these pegs! We use them for color recognition, patterns, and coordination. My boys also love to use them as swords.

Shape and Color Sorter Set This is another favorite in our house. My kids like to sort by color, shape, and also make patterns.

Teddy Bear Counters There are many varieties of these counters, but they last forever. My current preschooler loves to play house with the bears.

Giant Pegboard Another great toy for patterns, sorting, motor skills, and color and shape recognition.

Playful Patterns My older kids still love these pattern blocks. They have made intricate designs and then traced them on paper for art.

Jumbo Magneatos I like this version because they are harder to swallow. :)

Melissa & Doug Deluxe 24-Piece Princess Elise Magnetic Dress-Up This isn’t terribly educational, but my little girls love playing with this and it does keep them occupied.

International Playthings Imaginetics Thomas at the Railyard This is a great toy to take on the road since it is magnetic.

Melissa & Doug Farm Cube Puzzle This puzzle has been a favorite at our house for years. I think this toy is a great bargain because each side of the block has a different puzzle on it.

FeltTales Busy Day on the Farm Storyboard We don’t have this particular felt board, but I love felt boards in general. This is another toy that has been a favorite with all my kids throughout the years.

Disney Princess Stamper stationery (12 pcs assorted stampers set) I love, love, love these stamp sets, because there is no ink pad! My little kids can stamp just like their older siblings.

Disney movie Cars 24pcs Stamp Art Set

Gears This is another great toy that will keep your little ones as well as your bigger kids occupied for a while. We have the Discovery Toys version of this, but I couldn’t find a picture.

Lacing and Tracing I put off buying lacing toys for many years and that was a big mistake. It is great for hand eye coordination as well as fine motor skills.

Since summer time is yard sale season keep your eyes open for these toys. I have purchased many of my preschool toys at yard sales over the years for less than a few dollars. The books I listed above are all very popular and should be available at your local library.
What are your favorite preschool toys and books?
Previous Got Preschoolers? Posts

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  1. Nancy says:

    The preschool toys I will never, ever give away are:

    Brio railroad set;
    Duplo blocks;
    Fisher-Price toy castle;
    Wooden blocks (can be combined with Brio trains, Jenga blocks, etc. to build a fantastic city!)
    Felt boards

    I used to buy newsprint by the ream from Dick Blick online and carry folders of newsprint and a container of crayons to restaurants…my preschoolers didn’t just draw (although they drew a lot) – we used the waiting-for-food time to practice writing the alphabet, sounding out simple words, etc. Frugal fun!

    Don’t forget to read poetry (the sillier, the better) to your young children. My own personal favorite is “The Owl and the Pussycat,” which I can recite at will. Poetry doesn’t have to be dumbed down to be enjoyable…if your child asks what a “runcible spoon” is, tell him/her it’s a two-bowled spoon…

    Children love the rhymes and rhythms of poetry. If you can find a poem set to music, so much the better. (Who didn’t love “Schoolhouse Rock”?)

    Great post, Toni!

  2. Sonshine says:

    Great post!

    We love train sets, wooden blocks and lincoln logs.

    We also love to use Crayola Color Wonder items when traveling in the car. :)

    As for books, any of the Dr. Suess books like ABCs and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. We also like Peter Rabbit and Winnie the Pooh. My kids also loved Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books. The Very Hungry Caterpiller is a fun book to read too.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    LOVE this post!! We have a lot of those toys already but I’m always looking for more. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Oh and please let me know what you think of the nuggets when you make them :)

  5. We have many of those same Lauri activities that I’ve used for my preschoolers during school time. I’ll definitely have to look for the farm cube puzzle – it would be a hit! I posted today on making preschool activity bags if you have a chance to stop by!

  6. Great ideas!! Corduroy is one of my FAVORITE books. (And I think my boys like it too!) :)

  7. Beth says:

    Great list. Many familar favorities here.

    And I bet my girls would love the stamps and the cube puzzle- I will have the look for them.

  8. jennifer says:

    Thanks for all the great suggestions.

  9. Lynne says:

    Great list of books! We read many of these at home. I’ll have to check out many of these toys too! My little guy loves both Thomas and Cars! He would love either of those toys! Thanks for sharing! I’ll be back to check out the rest of your series!

  10. Somebody's Mimi says:

    Green Eggs and Ham???? The words are embedded on my brain! I actually thought when my children grew up I would never have to read that book again!! But quess what… I’m am still reading it and I kinda like it! Kids love the quiet and cuddly time of reading.. and so do I!! I keep those self inked stamps in a chest home so when “little people” come to visit they can stamp on paper or themselves. The grandparents love it! Although they sometimes go home covered with blue dragons up and down their arms.

  11. jodi says:

    great post – thanks so much for all the great sugestions…our little guy is 21 mos, so a lot of these toys look like they would be right up his alley! We’re trying to stay away from all the singing-light-up-drive-you-crazy toys, but these look like some great alternatives! Thank you!!

  12. Niki says:

    Great post!

    I agree with you…especially with how things are today, it is important to let kids be kids while they can. Seems like everyone is always rushing to have their kids be older, more independent, more athletic, more scheduled, more involved.

    And I love a lot of the toys you included. I am saddened by how few toys at toy stores do not run off batteries and light up and sing and talk and move.

    I like to shop at teacher supply stores to get simpler toys and the old classics.


  13. Jennifer says:

    I am happy to say I have all but about 3 of those toys. Funny how you accumulate stuff over the years. Great ideas!

  14. Leslie says:

    Teacher supply stores can be rather pricey. My preschool has begun ordering many items from Discount Supply and has saved on items we would have typically bought from our local teachers’ store. The web site is

  15. JoAndrew says:

    Our neighborhood has plan a few months back a sort of garage sale/swap meet and this has given us the opportunity to swap or trade in kids toys that are no longer being used by our children.

  16. Jenny says:

    Love your list of books and toys! We are fortunate to have another chance for pre-school books and Toys. We are blessed. It seems like it was just yesterday I read the “Caps for Sale” to my third baby and now he is 11! I am looking forward to reading the story again with Peter (our fourth blessing)!

  17. Liz says:

    I’m an early childhood teacher and have 3 kids and another on the way. While I’m not saying these are all junk, my kids have never had ANY of these toys and even in the day care centres I have worked in have had none or few of these. I don’t think any of these are essentials.

  18. TheHappyHousewife says:

    I agree, I don’t think any toy is essential, but as a mom of 7 some of these toys have helped to keep my preschoolers occupied while I am homeschooling the others. They are also good quality, have held up through several kids, and reinforce creative play.

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