Whether you’re a mom, dad, grandparent, godparent or favorite aunt or uncle, there is nothing quite as magical as watching a child’s face light up when opening a gift that absolutely delights them. Here then are our picks for the gifts that’ll be beloved long after the gift wrap has been recycled and the decorations packed away.
Your little toddler is an explorer, using playtime to develop new skills and discover more about the world. So pick gifts that nurture your 2 year old’s development, and engage and challenge him.
Our selection offers open-ended toys that spark creativity and allow your toddler to play with them in many different ways, like wooden blocks and themed block and shape sets, as well as nesting toys that allow them to do what they love – pull out, put in and build up.
Toys that encourage problem-solving and logical thinking, like peg puzzles and shape sorters, will give your toddler the chance to figure something out on their own, which is incredibly satisfying for little ones! Even better, these toys will boost fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Your 3 year old’s imagination is really beginning to soar, which makes means it’s time for pretend play. That banana? A cellphone. A wooden block? Nope, it’s a piece of birthday cake. He’s a king! A pilot! A dragon-slayer!
Pretend play is where your 3 year old will develop crucial skills – fine motor skills, problem solving, sequencing, language – all while being creative and having an enormous amount of fun mimicking the grown-ups in his life.
Our selection of recommended gifts for this age includes open-ended toys like train sets with accessories, dollhouses and furniture sets, and block and shape sets that encourage plenty of creative freedom, allowing little ones to build entire towns if they wish.
And as 3 year olds love to play diner, or to pretend bake, host tea parties, and invite Grandma on a pretend picnic, we’ve also highlighted a fantastic selection of pretend food and kitchen play sets, all made of durable wood for years of play.
As your 4 year old begins kindergarten, you’ll notice her learning ability has taken a quantum leap! It’s time to introduce educational toys that teach early math and verbal skills such as alphabet blocks, a classic abacus, card games that challenge her to match by memory, and even a wooden pretend cash register that will introduce her to early addition and subtraction.
Role play and pretend play continue to be important at this age, and 4 year olds will love pretending to be a doctor, a vet, or even Daddy firing up the grill. The more realistic the pretend play set, the better.
Our Gift Guide for 4 year olds also includes construction-type toys that will appeal to this age group. Train sets are especially challenging for them, as they work on meeting a goal, like creating a track that includes two bridges, or that runs around the entire coffee table. The same goes for a classic set of themed dominos, which is super-fun to set up together with a friend or family member, or even a balancing puzzle that demands their focus and problem solving skills.
Age 5 is peak pretend play time, with children especially enjoying play scenes or play sets. And as they’re also at a prime age for asking questions, why not invest in gifts that’ll offer plenty of teachable moments?
A recycling play set, for example, will introduce them to being a responsible citizen; a barn play set can used to talk about animals and nature, and a hospital play set is ideal for discussing visits to the doctor. Not only will they enjoy being creative in their play, they’ll also improve their vocabulary, and, if they play with others, will learn crucial skills such as patience and taking turns.
Manipulative play is super important too, so puzzles, train sets, building blocks, marble runs and construction toys that challenge them to move pieces and connect parts will boost their fine motor skills, spatial awareness and critical thinking.
Look at your little 6 year old, growing up so fast! With a growing circle of friends and a steady diary of play dates, your child really does enjoy spending time with others. Foster this with lovely gifts that encourage communication and playing with others, like a large dollhouse, or a card game, like Go Fish!
Intellectually, they’re coming along in leaps and bounds, so this is the perfect time for a small starter science kit, or an engineering toy that allows them to build blanket forts with their bestie, or to construct anything they can dream of with a tub of wooden planks.