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Great Educational Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Updated: Dec 27, 2021

Disclaimer: We may receive a commission from websites that we link to in this article. Your price doesn’t change. And the items we have s

A preschooler playing with wooden blocks - an educational toy.

elected were chosen because they meet our high standards for developmentally appropriate toys.

It all happens so fast. While it might feel like they just came home from the hospital before you know it, your child will have progressed out of infancy and into their toddler stage.

Once they reach preschool-age, you’ll want to do everything you can to ensure their early childhood education is on track. But education doesn’t mean that you put an end to fun and games. In fact, you can enhance learning and fun by choosing the right toys for your little one.

Be sure to read to the bottom of this list to get input from Cynthia Hockman ARNP, MS, CPNP from Unity Point Health in Iowa. She’s an advanced certified nurse practitioner who specializes in developmental pediatrics.

Use the following guide to navigate your next toy shopping trip.

Great Educational Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers

We’ve broken these toys into the following categories.

Fine Motor Skills

Bead Mazes

Price Range: $12 to $30

Category: (Motor Skills)

Bead Mazes - for toddlers

You might remember this toy from when you were a kid—and it’s no coincidence that they’ve been around for so long.

Bead mazes encourage children to use their senses and employ their motor skills by touching the wooden beads, and it shows them how gravity works when moving them in a certain direction.

Since it doesn’t require batteries and can’t be taken apart, this is a durable and practical option for keeping your son or daughter entertained.

Shape Sorters

Price Range: $9 to $22

Category: (Problem Solving, Fine Motor Skills)

A shape sorter toy perfect for toddlers.

Any kind of toy that challenges your child to place and match are great choices. Sorting shapes teaches your child colors and patterns.

Shape sorters will keep your child occupied and engaged. They’ll also develop motor skills.


Price Range: $20 to $40

Category: (Creativity, Problem Solving, Motor Skills)

Lego Duplos building blocks for preschoolers and toddlers.

Another great option for little builders are these large LEGO pieces. You can choose from a wide variety of sets. Or just get a bucket of blocks.

Either way, your child will enjoy building fun scenes or building whatever they like. DUPLO blocks are the perfect size for preschoolers. They can also teach counting, colors, and patterns.

Lacing Cards

Price Range: $7 to $22

Category: (Problem Solving, Motor Skills, Learning)

Lacing cards are a great educational toy for preschoolers.

When it comes to multi-purpose toys, lace cards are one of the best. They help with shapes, colors, counting, and sorting. Their main purpose is growing motor skills.

Your child learns to run a shoestring through holes in the card.

Amazon has a great assortment of top-rated lacing cards available.

Educational Bath Toys

Price Range: $14 to $30

Category: (Problem Solving, Motor Skills)

Water tubes for bath time fun with preschool children.

Learning never stops! Make bath time learning time too! Floating toys can teach your child counting, patterns, and how to sort.

Toys that require pouring water into pipes help with motor skills. You can make bath time fun and educational at the same time!

Problem Solving Skills

Wooden Peg Puzzles

Price Range: $8 for individual / $35 for sets

Category: (Problem Solving)

Wooden peg puzzles for toddlers and preschool kids.

This sturdy problem-solving toy serves multiple purposes. While your child will be eager to fit each piece back into its slot, they can also engage in imaginary play with the pieces outside of the puzzle, especially if they’re animals or characters.

The pegs in the center of each piece are important for training your child’s grip and will prevent them from squishing their fingers into the wooden openings. If you opt for one of the letter or number wood peg puzzles, you’ll also contribute to your son or daughter’s reading and writing skills.

Wood Building Blocks

Price Range: $30 to $90

Category: (Creativity, Problem Solving, Motor Skills)

Wooden blocks for preschool kids.

Blocks are one of the best open-ended play toys. They let your child use their imagination to build whatever they want. They’re also sturdy enough to handle some rough play and encourage cooperative play.

Your child can also have fun knocking their building blocks down and starting over. Just make sure you get pieces that are too big to swallow.

While building block sets can be pricey, they are super durable and could last for several children and for generations.

Cardboard Building Blocks

Price Range: $25 to $40

Category: (Creativity, Problem Solving, Motor Skills)

Cardboard building blocks for young children.

Jumbo cardboard blocks foster reasoning skills along with cause and effect: Build it too tall and it falls over. The nice thing about the cardboard building blocks is that your preschooler can build a large structure without fear of being hurt when the tower tumbles.

Waffle Blocks and Jumbo Waffle Blocks

Price Range: $15 to $70

Category: (Creativity, Problem Solving, Motor Skills)

Waffle Blocks for preschoolers or toddlers.

Waffle blocks were first manufactured by Little Tykes in 1985 and have become a consistent favorite of developmental experts and kids. Because they can be connected in hundreds of different combinations, they allow for creativity, find motor skills and problem solving.

If you combine Waffle Blocks with other Little Tykes people and cars, your child will enjoy hours of creative play. You may also want to consider the Jumbo Waffle Blocks which allow for easy fort building that is safe and easy to clean up.

Train Set

Price Range: $20 to $40

Category: (Fine Motor Skills, Problem Solving, Creativity)

Wooden train sets teach young children to play and plan and think.

Any toy that lets kids pretend is a great benefit. Train sets let kids do “grown-up” jobs and teach them patterns and matching.

Pushing the trains around helps develop motor skills as well. They can learn colors from different pieces.

The durable Melissa and Doug train set pictured above is less than $30 on Amazon.

See other top-rated Matching Games on Amazon.


Magnetic Drawing Boards

Price Range: $15 to $25

Category: (Creative)

Magnet Drawing Boards - a top rated toy for preschoolers.

To encourage the artist in your child, gift them a reusable, magnetic drawing pad (these are Amazon’s Top Rated ones). If they make a mistake, they can easily erase their work without creating a mess.

Once your child starts to recognize letters and shapes, they can practice them on the drawing board. Plus, it’s compact enough to take in the car.

Pretend Kitchen & Play Food

Price Range: $20 to $100

Category: (Creativity, Problem Solving)

A wooden play kitchen for preschool children.

There’s just something about playing in the kitchen! Children seem to love it. So why not give them a kitchen of their own? Not only will they have fun making their own recipes, but they’ll learn a thing or two. You can teach them colors and shapes from the food toys. It can also reinforce good hygiene by practicing handwashing. You can find plastic and felt play food depending on what best fits your child. Or get a mix of both to stimulate their sense of touch!

Wooden Food Toys can be a fun way for kids to play cooking without the mess and the possibility of getting burned. We like Melissa and Doug’s durable wooden food toys. This set costs less than $20 and will last several lifetimes. These wooden food toys are endorsed by Cynthia Hockman, ARNP, MS, CPNP, from UnityPoint Health (see her comments at the end of this article).