As children turn 3-years-old, they move from being ‘toddlers’ to being ‘pre-schoolers’ and this may co-inside with beginning pre-school or moving into a pre-school class within their usual childcare setting. The transition from toddler to pre-schooler isn’t always smooth, leading to some dubbing 3-year-olds “Threenagers” as their behavior can often seem like that which we usually associate with teenagers. Emotions run high at age 3, and 3-year-olds are quick to express their thoughts, feeling and opinions. Whilst this can be a little difficult to navigate it’s a great sign that they are developing as they should be.
3-year-old boys, like most young children, still need plenty of time outdoors and lots of physical activity; allowing them the freedom to run, climb, and jump is essential for practicing their physical skills, developing strength, balance and coordination and burning off some of their seemingly endless energy. If you are searching for a gift for a 3-year-old boy there are plenty of toys and gifts to choose from, but we’ve brought together some of the best which will help to support their development too.
1. Brio World Railway Deluxe Set
Train tracks are timeless toys that don’t date or go out of fashion easily. Brio is an especially timeless brand, having made train track toys for many years. Brio’s sets are compatible with other train track sets so that play can be expanded as a child is given more sets and specialized pieces. Most toy trains are also compatible with these tracks.
The Brio World- Railway Deluxe Set is a huge set of tracks, with over 100 pieces, including bridges, figures and road pieces to add interest to play. Building train tracks supports construction and early engineering skills as well as encouraging imaginative play.
2. Fisher-Price Transforming Batmobile
Around about age 3 boys tend to develop an interest in superheroes and ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ type play. Some parents worry that children’s imaginative play becomes boisterous or aggressive through these interests but research has shown that these types of games are natural, normal and even helpful for releasing aggression in a suitable context. Superhero play is also fantastic for building a 3-year-old boy’s social skills as it lets him experiment safely with a range of scenarios and emotions.
The Fisher-Price Transforming Batmobile is based on a very popular superhero, sure to delight a 3-year-old fan and features lights and sounds to encourage imaginative play as well as a remote control to increase children’s understanding of technology.
3. Berg Buzzy Nitro Go Cart
Ride-on toys are a popular gift for 3-year-olds, so this may be the ideal gift for a 3-year-old boy. The Berg Buzzy Nitro Go Kart is a ride-on toy that is designed with younger children in mind, so it will suit their physical size and developmental needs.
The Berg Buzzy Nitro Go Kart is great for encouraging physical play and skills and increasing strength in the core and legs as children learn to use the pedals and steer the kart. Pedaling and steering also help to increase coordination and control of the body. As a bonus it can be used indoors too so doesn’t rely on good weather for play.
4. Little Tikes 2-in-1 Pirate Ship Toy
The Little Tikes 2-in-1 Pirate Ship Toy is an engaging gift for a 3-year-old boy’s imagination. This ride-on boat features pirate ship sounds and comes with two pirate figures and a cannon for roleplaying swashbuckling adventures.
Setting sail into creative play, this pirate ship playset boosts large motor skills and balance. After assembled, it provides interactive fun. This 2-in-1 toy can be a ride-on or used for pirate ship play. Help a 3-year-old bring the high seas home with this engaging pirate gift.
5. Thomas & Friends Super Station
Thomas and Friends is an extremely popular children’s TV series and a huge interest for many 3-year-old boys. The little blue engine Thomas is almost universally recognizable and many little boys will be able to identify a surprising number of his friends too.
The Thomas & Friends Super Station is large enough for up to 100 engines to fit on the tracks and can be constructed in a huge variety of ways. The open-ended nature of this toy means that it will grow with the child as they explore new ways to connect and set-up the tracks, improving their construction skills and their imagination too. This would make an ideal gift for a 3-year-old Thomas fan, encouraging plenty of imaginative play with the toy engines.
6. Aquaplay Mountain Lake
Water play forms a popular part of many preschool settings and for a very good reason! The learning opportunities when playing in water are very rich and playing in water is a sensory play opportunity in and of itself. The Aquaplay Mountain Lake is a water canal system for children to experiment and play with.
This helps to build early engineering and scientific skills as children begin to experiment with and gain understanding of dams and water wheels. Early maths skills are developed through water play too as children begin to play around with concepts like full and empty. This is an ideal gift for a 3-year-old-boy who loves to play outdoors with water.
7. Magnetic Building Block Set
This premium magnetic building block set by Desire Deluxe is the perfect gift for a three-year-old boy who loves building and creating. With 57 magnetic pieces in various shapes and vibrant colors, this set will keep little ones engaged in hours of imaginative play.
Building with magnetic blocks promotes cognitive development, fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Constructing different structures teaches about shapes, colors and spatial relationships. The extra strong magnets make sure the creations remain stable and sturdy, encouraging problem-solving skills as they experiment with different designs. These magnetic blocks are made from high quality, non-toxic ABS plastic, ensuring durability and safety. The smooth, rounded edges make them safe and easy to handle for small hands. A gift like this will also help boys feel a sense of achievement when they build creations they will be proud of. The set can also be expanded for bigger and better creations.
8. Paw Patrol Launch’N Haul
Paw Patrol is an extremely popular children’s cartoon, loved by many 3-year-old boys and this vehicle can hold all 7 of the characters and their special rescue vehicles so you can build up the whole set. Toys based on TV series or movies are a great basis for imaginative play as they give children a ‘launching point’ for their play.
3-year-olds will love to use the Paw Patrol Launch’N Haul set to act out various scenarios from the cartoons as well as building their own imagined situations. The vehicle can transform, adding even more interest to the play, the pups and their rescue vehicles can also be bought separately to expand the set.
9. Play Camping Tent Set
Turn the living room into a fun camping trip with this huge set of playtime camping gear. This set by ToyVelt has everything a three-year-old boy could need to survive on his own imaginative day of camping. It includes a large pop-up tent with an easy roll-up door, two walkie-talkies, a telescope, a water canteen, a shovel, a compass, a flashlight and so much more. It even includes pretend food to make sure his energy stays up for the whole day of adventure and exploration.
The working flashlight also has a built-in, functional compass. This would be a great opportunity to teach about maps, directions and how to read a compass. The tent could be used indoors but the water-resistant material also makes it ideal to use in the backyard. It’s a fun way to encourage a love for the outdoors and for teaching important survival skills. Any three-year-old boy is going to love getting a gift like this.
10. Peppa Pig Family Home Playset
Peppa Pig is an extremely popular children’s TV character and this playset based on the TV series is sure to be well received by most 3-year-old boys. As children begin to develop the ability to play imaginatively many of them prefer to role-play based on their own experience which this playset will allow them to do as it is based around the house, home and family life.
Including plenty of accessories, there are lots of opportunities for creative play and the development of vocabulary. Perfect for a 3-year-old who is a fan of Peppa Pig.
11. Rolly Toys Wheelbarrow
Lots of children love to move toys and items from one area of the house to another. Whilst adults might perceive this as making a mess it is actually more likely to be a specific way of learning. Schemas are actions that are repeated over and over again, as a way consolidating concepts and a ‘transportation schema’ is very common, children who use this schema to learn will often move items from one area to another. This can be supported with a gift like the Rolly Toys Wheelbarrow.
The Rolly Toys Wheelbarrow is easy to assemble so a 3-year-old can get to work playing as quickly as possible. It is child-sized so very easy to use and can be used for helping with gardening and chores, or simply in play.
12. Hape Easel with Whiteboard and Chalkboard
An easel is a great way to encourage artistic skill as well as important pre-writing skills. Before children learn to write it is important that they have good motor skills, both gross motor skills which are large scale movements and fine motor skills which are small scale movements. Drawing on a vertical surface such as an easel works both gross motor skills and fine motor skills.
The Hape Easel with Whiteboard and Chalkboard is a double-sided easel with a magnetic white board on one side and a chalkboard on the other, it even comes with paint pots and a roll of paper so there are plenty of ways to play and experiment with mark-making with this gift.
13. Melissa & Doug Wooden Scoop & Serve Ice Cream
Melissa & Doug are a great brand offering an alternative to the wide variety of plastic toys available so if you’re looking to be more eco-friendly in your purchases or simply prefer the sensory properties of wood then this is a great place to start; the Melissa & Doug Wooden Scoop & Serve Ice Cream set is a lovely toy allowing children to pretend to make and sell ice creams.
Paying for ice-cream introduces the opportunity to develop early maths skills as children begin to understand the concept of value and number. This set also encourages a whole host of imaginative play scenarios which, in turn, boost social skills as children experiment with different situations and interactions.
14. Little Tikes First Slide
Slides are a great way for children to burn off some of their energy and practice their physical skills and 3-year-olds are innately attracted to the element of risk and thrill-seeking that they provide. It’s not always possible or practical to get out to the playground every day so a slide at home would make a great gift for a 3-year-old boy.
The Little Tikes First Slide is designed with young children in mind, so it is appropriately sized and easy to use. It’s an easy way to keep children active and to increase their physical skills and strength with lots of climbing and balancing. The Little Tikes First Slide is also suitable for indoor and outdoor use, making it ideal for children without outdoor space too.
15. Melissa & Doug Abacus
An abacus is a toy with very ancient origins; they were first used as calculators in Babylon over 5000 years ago as a way of representing large numbers and carrying out complex mathematics. For children, they are more often used to encourage counting, number recognition and colors.
The Melissa & Doug Abacus is a lovely wooden toy, representing an eco-friendlier alternative to plastic, with different colored beads to improve fine motor skills as children manipulate them and move them along. This timeless toy would make a lovely gift for a 3-year-old and will last for years to come with its diverse uses and robust design.
16. Paw Patrol Rescue Police Cruiser
Paw Patrol is a popular cartoon with 3-year-old boys and this set is great because it includes all of the characters from the series so that nothing needs to be bought separately. Including all the characters ensures that there are plenty of different scenarios that a 3-year-old boy can act out, experimenting with different kinds of interactions between the characters and practicing his speech and language.
The Paw Patrol Rescue Police Cruiser not only features all the characters and encourages imaginative play but also has real working parts to enhance play and increase children’s understanding of technology. This would make a great playset for a 3-year-old boy who likes the Paw Patrol cartoon.
17. Toy Story Pull String Woody Talking Figure
The Toy Story series of movies has been very popular with both older and younger children, so, many 3-year-olds can identify the characters from the films. Woody is arguably the main character in all of the films so he has many 3-year-old fans!
The Toy Story Pull String Woody Talking Figure is just like Woody in the films, with 5 different phrases triggered by a pull string on Woody’s back. The figure also includes a removable hat accessory so that children can play creatively based on scenes from the movies. This encourages imaginative, creative skills.
18. Intex Dinoland Play Center
A paddling pool and a water play center all in one, the Intex Dinoland Play Cente is sure to boost children’s confidence in water, complementing or laying the foundations for more formal swimming lessons. Based on a popular dinosaur theme, there are slide and splash features to encourage different kinds of play with, and in, water.
The Intex Dinoland Play Center is a great way to cool down on a summer’s day and to encourage outdoor, physical play with lots of different kinds of movement to keep a 3-year-old active and healthy.
19. Hape Workbench
As children love to play by imitating, the Hape Workbench is ideal for a child who has seen a parent, grandparent, or friend doing lots of practical work or who is interested in tools and fixing things. As a wooden toy, it is an eco-friendlier alternative to the plastic versions on the market and includes 35 pieces so there are plenty of different tools to play with.
The Hape Workbench encourages imaginative play, builds early engineering skills and also improves fine motor skills and dexterity as children can use nuts, bolts and screws, increasing strength in the fingers, hands and wrists which will later by important for handwriting.
20. Outdoor Flying Parachute Men
Let imagination take flight with the Nutty Toys Parachute Men set. This captivating gift is not just fun but also offers numerous developmental benefits for three-year-old boys. The set includes three colorful parachute men, each attached to a tangle-free parachute that opens when released from a height. This engaging playtime activity promotes hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and spatial awareness as children launch the parachute men into the air and watch them slowly descend.
Through interactive play, boys can learn about gravity, cause and effect and basic physics concepts. They can even experiment with different launching techniques, observing the parachute’s behavior and developing problem-solving skills as they try different ways to release them. This gift provides hours of entertainment, both indoors and outdoors. It encourages active playtime, social interaction and cooperative play. Whether in the backyard, at the park, or from the top of the staircase, these parachute men will definitely be an exciting toy that won’t disappoint.
21. Little Tikes Easy Score Basketball Set
It’s great to encourage an interest in sports and physical play as these early habits will be taken forward into children’s lives as they grow and get older and hopefully stand them in good stead for remaining active and healthy throughout their life.
The Little Tikes Easy Score Basketball Set is a kid-friendly basketball hoop and a junior-sized ball that is also height-adjustable so can grow with a child, or be made more challenging as a child’s skills develop. This set helps to develop specific basketball skills but also hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness too, important all-round skills.
22. FurReal Ricky Interactive Plush Pet
Lots of 3-year-olds have, or would like to have, a pet. The FurReal Ricky Interactive Plush Pet needs taking care of just like a real dog; it can be fed, taken for a walk and played with. This might be a good way to introduce a child to the responsibility that comes along with looking after a pet, or just a realistic way for them to role-play.
Imaginative role-play that involves caring or nurturing behavior, such as taking care of a pet, also improves social skills when playing with others. This would make a great gift for a 3-year-old boy who loves animals.
23. Green Toys Double-Decker Car Carrier
Lots of 3-year-old boys have a very strong interest in cars, vehicles and anything that moves! The Green Toys Double Decker Car Carrier is a dream come true with vehicles that can be loaded onto a vehicle, this encourages imaginative play as well as physical skills being developed by pushing and pulling the vehicles around.
Suitable for indoor or outdoor use, the Green Toys Double-Decker Car Carrier can be cleaned in the dishwasher to keep germs at bay, which is always a useful feature in a child’s toy! It is made from 100% recycled plastic with absolutely no BPA, phthalates, external paints or coatings meaning that this represents a safe, non-toxic and eco-friendly gift.
24. Scuttlebug Beetle
Ride-on toys make great gifts for 3-year-old boys and the Scuttlebug Beetle is ideal; it is extremely reasonably priced and can be folded down and away when not in use. This also makes it ideal to put in the car, or on the bottom of a stroller, to take along on a trip to the park.
The Scuttlebug Beetle encourages physical skills like balance and steering to avoid obstacles as well as keeping kids active and healthy and improving their strength in the core and legs. It is available in different designs so you are sure to find one that suits the 3-year-old boy you are buying for.
25. Electronic Drawing Art Pad
Get the creative juices flowing with this great gift idea. If the three-year-old boy you’re shopping for likes to color, draw or just loves to create, this electronic art pad is going to be exactly what he wants. The instant erase button means this tablet provides an endless canvas for anything his little mind can come up with.
The user-friendly design and vibrant color display make this an exciting upgrade to just crayons and paper. The display is pressure sensitive so the harder the pen is pressed into the tablet, the thicker the lines will appear. This is a useful feature to practice sketching and for developing more advanced artistic skills. For creations that want to be saved, either for display or to be worked on later, the lock button ensures nothing will be erased. Art is not only an effective way for young boys to express themselves, but it also boosts self-confidence as they show off their skills. This gift would also make an excellent tool for parents to teach writing, spelling and math.
26. Official Marvel Spider-Man Costume
Imaginative role-play and dressing up is a big part of childhood and this official, licensed Spider-Man costume will be well received by most 3-year-old boys. Whether he uses it for imaginative play at home, dressing up at parties, on special days at preschool or just for trips to the shop it is sure to make a welcome addition to his dressing up collection.
Being an official, licensed product, this official Marvel Spider-Man Costume is made of high-quality materials and has been tested to both EU and UK standards so you can be sure that it will last. By age 3 most children are taking an interest in dressing themselves and dressing up in costumes is a great way to practice these skills.
27. Lego Duplo Large Playground Brick Box
Construction toys are really important for children’s development. Open-ended toys like Lego Duplo allow children to imagine, plan and build structures, changing their creations as they go along in response to challenges they meet along the way.
The Lego Duplo Large Playground Brick Box is a large enough set that it can be played within an open-ended manner, especially when it is connected with other Lego Duplo sets, but it also features some instructions and building ideas. This set allows children to construct a swing and slide set, perfect for imaginative role-play.
Imaginative play and the accompanying vocabulary required for story-telling, narration and giving speech to characters is a very important skill acquired around about age 3. Luckily around this age children are drawn to toys that help them to work on these skills, like action figures, dolls and playsets.
However, as you can see from the huge variety of toys and gifts included in this list that at 3-years-old most little boys are still relatively open to playing with lots of different kinds of toys. All of the toys or gifts included here help to promote different kinds of development and encourage different skills. We hope that this list has been helpful as you look to choose a gift that suits the 3-year-old boy you are buying for.