Pre-schoolers are another age group that I love buying gifts and presents for. They are growing and developing so quickly, and are interested in everything. The sorts of gifts are similar to those that I’d recommend for older toddlers, but you can start to think about toys with smaller pieces and with a bit more complexity. Pre-schoolers have a long attention span and can really become involved in a task or open-ended play.
1 - Hama beads
Hama beads are a fantastic for helping young children to develop their creativity. Maxi hama beads in particular are perfect for this age group, and there are lots of different sets available. You can choose themed sets which are linked to your child's interests.
2 - Dress up and costumes
A pre-schooler will not only enjoy dressing up at this age, but will be able to use the costume to develop their imaginative skills as they engage in role-play. Look for a costume that allows them to act out a role, but also try and think of costumes that can be used in different ways, to encourage more open-ended play. There are loads of costumes available to buy, but you don’t need to purchase costumes - have a look around the house for old clothes that can be cut down or otherwise altered, and accessories like old handbags or wallets.
3 - Picture books
It’s a real pleasure to read stories to children this age as they really get involved in the story. You still need to choose a book with not too much text and lots of pictures. Here are some picture books that we’ve really been enjoying lately:
4 – Playdough and accessories
You can easily make your own playdough, and there are lots of recipes to be found on-line. If you make your own it’s cheaper, and you can make a variety of different colours, scents and textures. You can also find lots of things around the house that you can use to play with it, for example a garlic press, plastic scissors or a pastry wheel. If you are looking to buy a gift though there are some lovely Playdoh themed sets. In particular we’ve had a lot of fun with one of the extruders that you can buy. Because they are designed for small children they are easy for them to use. My son particularly enjoys pretending to be a playdough hairdresser!
5 - Arts and crafts materials
I always make sure that pre-schoolers are kept well stocked up with arts and crafts materials – lots of plain and coloured paper, glue, colouring books, felt tip pens and crayons and packs of stickers. A nice gift is some card blanks and envelopes that pre-schoolers can use to make cards for other people.
6 – Duplo and other construction toys
Duplo is a big hit in our house, particularly because without very small parts it is safe for young children if there are younger siblings in the house. I like to buy the big boxes of bricks because they usually work out better value and are a lot more open-ended, but there are some lovely sets available too. It also works well as a gift if the child already has Duplo because you can mix it all up together.
7 – Doll’s house (or castle, or similar)
If you have the space, a doll’s house or similar will provide hours of small world play value. Although they usually have a specific theme, with a child’s imagination they can stand for anything.
8 - Bag/lunchbox
A pre-schooler will, by definition, most likely be attending a pre-school or playgroup at this age, and will be thinking about starting school. A bag or satchel is a nice gift, themed according to the child’s interests, or perhaps a lunchbox and flask ready for those packed lunches, or just for days out with the family.
9 - Fuzzy felt or magnet books
We’ve bought fuzzy felt or magnetic books for toddlers, and they do enjoy playing with them, but by the time they reach the age of three or so they get so much more out of them as they start to put together little scenes and tell stories. You can buy sets that are themed around a book that they have enjoyed, or themed around a particular topic that the child is interested in. It helps encourage the child to remember stories that they have read and re-enact them, as well as making up their own stories.
10 - Music CD or story CD for the car
While younger babies and toddlers tend to fall asleep in the car, older toddlers and pre-schoolers require a bit more entertainment, but are still a bit young for involved games like I Spy. We have a couple of favourite CDs to play in the car which always calm things down, and CDs with simple stories are good too. You can buy music CDs based on almost all the films or television programmes that your child enjoys.
Buying for a different age group? Try these:
Gift ideas for very young babies
Gift ideas for younger toddlers (age 1 - 2)
Gift ideas for older toddlesr (age 2 - 3)
Clutter free gift ideas