Best Learning Gifts for 3 Year Old Toddlers in 2019

Gifts for 3-year-olds can be particularly tough to choose – they’re still very much “toddlers,” but they’re growing more and more into “preschoolers” every day.

At this age, they start to be more into activities than just toys, so STEM / learning toys can be great gifts, whether it’s for the holidays or a birthday.

More than anything, toddlers actually love to learn, so toys that are geared towards developing their skills or teaching them something new tend to keep them engaged longer. And I’m ALL about toys that will keep my toddler entertained for longer than 5 minutes, because we all know they generally have the attention spans of gnats.

If a gift can keep my 3-year-old’s interest for 30 minutes or more, I’m a happy mama. And all the toddler gift ideas on this list fit that bill!

And if you need some gift ideas for younger toddlers and babies, be sure to check out my list of the best gifts for babies and best gifts for 12-18 month olds.

*Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This just means I earn a small commission if you purchase a product from that link (at no extra cost to you, of course).

Best Learning Gifts for 3 Year Old Toddlers in 2019


Go Go Gears! - Fat Brain Toys

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How cool is this?! This STEM toy checks all the boxes my 3-year-old loves: learning, imagination, vehicles. This one is on his wish list for this year. I love that it provides guidance for how to place the gears, but allows for the freedom to use their imagination however they'd like.

See it at Fat Brain Toys!

PicassoTiles - 100 Piece Set

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Okay, if the toddler you're buying for doesn't have these yet, then you can stop right here and just get these. This is easily the best STEM toy out there for older toddlers, girl or boy.

My son got these for his 3rd birthday, and played with them for an hour straight. AN HOUR.

Nearly a year later, still plays with them for 30 minutes to an hour at a time, and the things he can build all by himself blows my mind.

Your kid needs them. The end.

See it on Amazon!

Strider 2-in-1 Balance to Pedal Bike

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My son got this balance bike as a gift for his 3rd birthday, and I can't say enough good things about it. Balance bikes are great for helping toddlers develop their gross motor skills, learn coordination, and just get outside and away from their screens.

I was SHOCKED at how quickly my son figured it out! Within a week or two, he went from tip-toeing the bike inch-by-inch to gliding for a few feet at a time with his feet in the air.

Now, after almost a year, he flies on this thing – I literally have to run after him when he really gets going. I like this particular model because it will convert to a pedal bike when he's ready (which might be sooner than I thought!).

See it on Amazon!

Kinetic Sand with Folding Sand Box

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OK moms, don't hate me for recommending sand as a gift for your toddler.

Kinetic Sand is a totally different ballgame from messy, grimy, gets-in-every-crevice sand. It miraculously sticks to itself – and only itself – like a magnet. It doesn't get all over your hands, your floor, or clothes.

My 3-year-old will spend at least 30 minutes at a time playing with this kit – using his creativity to make shapes and structures with the molds (so he can smoosh them, of course... the real fun).

{Pro-tip: Make sure to get some extra sand, too. This kit includes 2 lbs, which sounds like a lot, but it's really not enough.}

See it on Amazon!

The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game

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At around 3.5 years old, toddlers *finally* start to be able to focus on one activity for longer than a sneeze, and they start develop the critical thinking skills necessary for board games.

This game is so much fun – even for parents! – and does a great job teaching toddlers the basics of winning, losing, and not cheating. It even helps develop some critical thinking skills.

If you're an aunt, uncle, grandparent, friend, or person who doesn't otherwise see the toddler all that often, this would be a great gift to bring, and then play with them! More than anything, 3 year olds just like attention, so they'll love that they get to play this with you.

See it on Amazon!

Hot Wheels Rolling Storage Case

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First of all, let me just say: Hot Wheels cars aren't just for boys! My 5-year-old niece loves playing with cars just as much as my 3-year-old son. So don't discount cars as a gift for a 3 year old GIRL, too.

Now, when I came across this storage case for my 3-year-old a few months ago, I figured it'd be a gift for *me* more than anything – just to give a home to all the dang cars strewn about the house.

But he now spends more time rearranging his cars inside this case – arranging them from big to small, sorting them by color and type, counting them one-by-one... sounds a lot like STEM learning to me!

Who would've thought Hot Wheels cars could serve an educational purpose other than racing and crashing?!

See it on Amazon!

Crayola Washable Kids' Paint

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Is there anything toddlers love more than making a mess in their own home? I swear, if I dare to even utter the word "paint" in our house, both my kids will drop whatever they're doing and SPRINT to the craft table.

And since STEAM toys are now all-the-rage over STEM toys (the extra "A" is for "Art"), this gift is perfect for a creative toddler.

(Maybe include some smocks and kraft paper rolls, if you want to keep mom happy, too...)

See it on Amazon!

Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Magical Oven

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Play-Doh is the classic, old-school STEAM toy for toddlers, in my opinion. They can learn so much just from mushing and melding it together, experimenting with different shapes and colors – the creative possibilities are endless.

And these days, we have so many unique activity kits for Play-Doh that just increase the learning capabilities that much more (not to mention all those fine motor skills!).

So, when in doubt, grab one of these fun kits for a toddler gift, and you pretty much can't go wrong.

See it on Amazon!

LeapFrog LeapStart Interactive Learning System

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My son originally got this as a gift when he turned 2-years-old, and he was just a bit too young for it. At that point, he just wanted to bang it and throw it, and he really didn't have the coordination or patience yet.

But at 3-and-a-half, he's really grown into it. Now he LOVES following the games and cues, and even corrects me when I don't follow the instructions.

It's awesome to see everything he's been learning at preschool in action while he plays with this – practicing his letters, matching up words and sounds – and seeing him grow and improve his skills before my eyes.

(Plus, he gets to feel like he's toting around a laptop, which he thinks makes him the coolest kid EVER.)

See it on Amazon!

Melissa & Doug Dinosaur Dawn Jumbo Floor Puzzle

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These jumbo floor puzzles are a perfect gift for three-year-olds! For this age toddlers, I think 24-30 piece puzzles are the right amount – they're just the right level of challenging, but still doable. They may need help the first few times they put it together, but my son has gotten to the point where he can mostly do it by himself, with just some prompting from me.

Educational + independent play toys, for the win!

See it on Amazon!

Tomorrow I'll Be Brave

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When in doubt: BOOKS. Toddlers can never get enough books, so they make for a great toddler gift, that their parents can never be mad at you about.

This book, in particular, is one of our family's favorites. It has an encouraging message for their budding self-esteem, which has been so helpful for my anxious toddler, and each page has giant, typographic letters on it, which he loves to spell out as we read.

See it on Amazon!

What other learning or STEM / STEAM toys have been good gifts for your 3-year-olds? Share them in the comments!

Some of this year's best learning gifts for 3-year-olds, from a mom of a 3.5 year old. These STEM  / STEAM toys will get your toddler learning AND playing.


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