Perfecting Preschool: Toys


You can’t have preschoolers without play. In fact, play should make up about 80% of your “schooling”, because it’s God’s built-in learning system for children. It’s what kids do best – and what makes them the most happy. Kids learn when they are happy. I dare you to try and teach a screaming, crying, miserable toddler anything.

I am a firm believer in the Power of Play. The great thing is, you don’t even need toys for your tots to have fun. You can make use of every day items and whatever is readily available outdoors. That being said, it never hurts to have a few fun and educational toys for the little ones to play with, either. I like to make wish lists of toys that we may not be able to afford so I have an answer ready when the grandparents want to know what to buy for their birthday or Christmas.

Below I have a list of my favorite toys that we own (and a little info about each), and at the bottom of this post, I have a WISH LIST widget – with toys I have researched, ones recommended to us, or those that just look like a great fit for our little guys during their preschool years.

1. Foam Tile Floor Mat Puzzle with Letters & Numbers

Basically these are just foam letters that fit inside a foam block shaped like each letter. They have edges that fit together in a huge puzzle and create a soft foam floor mat. You need a bunch of floor space to spread them out and they are a great and fun tool for learning the alphabet and increasing motor skills.

2. Magnetic Toys

My eldest loved magnetic toys and has a few of these sets plus a huge stack of magnetic rocks we got at a gift store on a cave field trip. These are like Legos because you can build with them, but they have fun “magic” properties that thrill little ones. My youngest gets frustrated when he can’t fit two ends of the magnetic rods together because of the way magnets repel. I enjoy watching them play and create neat spinning shapes with these toys. They have just as much fun fitting them all back into the Styrofoam packing box, too!

3. Fischer Price Farm

Our farm is a bit more outdated than the one listed here. I don’t even think you can find the one we have unless you got it from an antique store or Ebay. However, the benefit of getting this new one (besides the fact that it is really nice looking), is that the new farm makes animal sounds! The hard part is keeping up with all the animals. My little ones have a HUGE animal box with plastic animals we’ve collected since I was a little girl nearly 35 years ago, and their older siblings added to during their childhood days. I often find many of the barn animals in this box – which takes a little time when we want to get down just the barn for play. Honestly, I think little girls might play more with these type of toys because my boys seem to gravitate towards machines more than animals. My daughter was CRAZY for animals and horses when she was little. We had an entire box of just horse toys and My Little Ponies when she was a toddler, and we didn’t give it away until she was nearly 12.

4. Fishcer Price Nativity

I purchased this for Christmas last year and we use it during the holidays so my little ones can play with Baby Jesus. The glass nativity was too tempting and mama was often noticing that baby Jesus was kidnapped. It plays a Christmas song when you press the angel down on the manger. This toy would be a great Bible Class visual and good to use while you are reading Bible stories.

Big List of Educational Preschool Toys :

5. GeoTrax Fischer Price Railway

I hit the jackpot one day at a yard sale and found an entire set – actually about 7 or 8 entire sets that all connect to each other – of this plastic toy train set made by Fischer Price. It has a number of battery operated trains with remote controls that actually make train noises. I looked up a few of these on Amazon and had no idea they were this expensive or rare. If you happen to find a few of these at a yard sale or online resale, I would snatch them up. They are practically indestructible and a good investment! I wish Fischer Price would bring this series back, because it’s probably our favorite toy set we own.

6. Apple iPad

I know, I know. It’s crazy expensive and not really a TOY, but I can’t praise it enough for being a really educational device that allow my toddlers to learn electronics, play learning games, and just to have fun with. We actually got our first generation iPad from a blog event I attended as a gift, so I didn’t have to sell my left lung to purchase it, but who knows – maybe one of you out there reading this can afford to purchase an iPad. If so, I would certainly recommend it! The apps are out of this world amazing (we have a Nook, also, and the iPad is our favorite).

Big List of Educational Preschool Toys :

7. Wooden Blocks (PlanToys)

Another favorite with my boys is plain, old wooden blocks. I like the PlanToys set because they throw in a few colored ones… even if it might make them fight a little more over who gets which colored triangle. I love to see them building things and being creative. Early on, they would drag big teen brother down to their level and have him help them make space ships and airplanes and towers… and even now, I have to drag the 16 year old back over to the school table sometimes, because he would rather be playing with the toddlers!

8. Play Workshop (Step2)

The little “woodworking” shop we have is plastic and pretty old. We have probably over 60 different tool pieces that go with it including a fake saw, screwdrivers, nails, bolts, fake wood, pliers, etc. We got ours at a garage sale from the same lady that sold us the train set, but I have to say – the Step2 one online is a lot prettier than ours! The only problem with our little wood station is that we keep it in the babies’ room and often during school hours, they aren’t allowed to be up there alone. That means it gets most of it’s wear and tear during the weekend. I think they would also get more out of it if their daddy was a real woodworking man. I remember as a child, my step-dad was always creating something with wood. It made me do wood crafts as a kid – like wood burning, and making things with wood that he would cut for me. You can also allow your little ones (with supervision) to play with some real tools in a small size. It’s good to play with real things and learn to use them. Remember the Easy Bake Oven and the Snoopy Snowcone Maker?

9. Melissa & Doug Vehicles Chunky Wooden Puzzle

We love all things Melissa & Doug. For boys, you can’t go wrong with vehicles.

10. Collectible Chevron Cars

Another case of being in the right place at the right time – our large collection of Chevron Cars. I started collecting them at gas stations when I was pregnant with my first kid. We have quite a bit of them, and the favorite was Cary Carrier. The little boys seem to be getting almost as much fun as my oldest did with them. I’m not sure any little boy loves cars as much as he did.

11. Angry Birds Games

Plastic blocks to set up and knock down with little plastic angry birds and piggies. What could be more fun than that? Boys love destroying things they build. Better to let them destroy their block towers and angry bird contraptions than your Tupperware cabinet for the umpteenth time.

12. Melissa & Doug Train Sound Puzzle

This was the favorite toy for a long stint. I still find it spread out on their floor in the bedroom. They love the noises it makes and it is easy enough that the 2 year old can complete it without help.

13. Melissa & Doug Farm Sound Puzzle

Another wooden puzzle that makes sounds – only this time, animal noises. It’s a fun educational tool for the younger ones and builds motor skills all the while. Another toy that would be probably even better with little girls that love animals. My two year old boy is more of an animal lover than my four year old boy.

14. Barrel of Monkeys

Do you remember this toy from when you were a kid? I used to play with my cousins with these and they are relatively inexpensive. I found them at the store a while back and my boys love to link them up and make monkey chains all over the house.

15. Lego Duplo Building Set

Big fat Legos for little bitty fingers. We have a little Lego Duplo dump truck and a handful of these for my youngest to play with. They are a big hit and get used often.

Big List of Educational Preschool Toys :

16. Lego Bricks

We don’t’ have this exact set, but my kids have the larger Legos and the smaller ones. They have pretty much moved to the smallest sized Legos over the past few months and since my oldest son really doesn’t want them breaking up all his special creations, we ended up buying them some Lego sets of their own. Their favorite are the Star Wars ones because they are really in to Angry Birds Star Wars lately. Legos – of any kind – never grow old. They will still be worth the same or more than you paid for them decades later. My husband even enjoys helping them put things together from the kits we get. They are always a good toy choice for boys.

Big List of Educational Preschool Toys :

17. Plastic Animals

Like I said, we have a huge plastic bin of animals. We have even used them when my older kids were doing a unit study about elections and presidents to lay out an electoral map. They are such a great pretend play resource. I love to hear the stories they make up when playing with the animals. Sometimes they build houses with the Legos or blocks, and use the animals as “people”. I highly recommend having a lot of plastic animal or people toys for pretend play for your toddlers. They also like to take them in the tub.

18. Toy Tools

We love to garden and work in the yard when the weather permits, and having a few sturdy tools is a must. You can also find small rakes, long-handled shovels, and bug catcher cages.

So those are some of our favorite things. What are yours?

And in case you were wondering, here are our wish list items that we have an eye out for – and are things we might ask for at Christmas if the grandparents ask us to make a list:

If you have some ideas on other toys we left off that your preschool kids have really enjoyed, please leave them in the comments so we can add them to our wish list!

– – – – – – –

Next up in the series will be Day 5, Rules. What are some rules you have in your home for your children? I’m wanting to make a pretty list of rules we can hang up and keep on the wall. Now to find some time to get crafty and create it! I’d love your suggestions! Do you have a post with family rules? Please share the link in my comments!

Perfecting Preschool Series:

Day 1: Learning Spaces

Day 2: Activities

Day 3: Schedule

Day 4: Toys

Day 5: Rules

Day 6: Books

Day 7: Circle Time

Day 8: Arts & Crafts

Day 9: Music

Day 10: Electronics & Apps

Don’t forget to come back each day to read the rest of the series!

P.S. I’ll be giving away and reviewing some preschool-friendly items during this series or at the end of it!

P.S.S. I’ve really enjoyed this past month of #HSchallenge Photo-a-Day Instagram Challenge for homeschoolers! Would you like me to create another challenge for October? Let me know.

{ Happy homeschoolin’, y’all! }

In Him,


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  1. says

    Hmmm – blocks and boxes are best in our home. I just don’t like tech gadgets for kids – or adults…. maybe it’s just me and an unreasonable bias..

    • says

      :) To each his own. We try and balance out the inside toys, outside time, and electronics. In a tech world, I figure eventually they are going to need to be masters of those tools – and I want to teach them early on about moderation. I’m working on moderating my time online as well as the time my kids spend with electronics – both little and big kiddos. :)

      • says

        I absolutely agree, It is important to balance the child’s education between tech, motor skills & outdoor fun. To think a child won’t need to have technical skills is silly, but it should definitely not be an excuse to let technology teach a child rather than parent/educator interaction.