Preschoolers and kindergartners have longer attention spans than toddlers. Typically they talk a lot and ask a lot of questions. They like to experiment with things and with their still-emerging physical skills. They like to play with friends—and don’t like to lose! They can take turns—and sharing one toy by two or more children is often possible for older preschoolers and kindergarteners.
Good toys for 3- to 6-year-olds:
Things for solving problems—puzzles (with 12 to 20+ pieces), blocks that snap together, collections and other smaller objects to sort by length, width, height, shape, color, smell, quantity, and other features—collections of plastic bottle caps, plastic bowls and lids, keys, shells, counting bears, small colored blocks
Things for pretending and building—many blocks for building complex structures, transportation toys, construction sets, child-sized furniture (“apartment” sets, play food), dress-up clothes, dolls with accessories, puppets and simple puppet theaters, and sand and water play toys
Things to create with—large and small crayons and markers, large and small paintbrushes and fingerpaint, large and small paper for drawing and painting, colored construction paper, preschooler-sized scissors, chalkboard and large and small chalk, modeling clay and playdough, modeling tools, paste, paper and cloth scraps for collage, and instruments—rhythm instruments and keyboards, xylophones, maracas, and tambourines
Picture books with even more words and more detailed pictures than toddler books
CD and DVD players with a variety of music (of course, phonograph players and cassette recorders work too!)
Things for using their large and small muscles—large and small balls for kicking and throwing/catching, ride-on equipment including tricycles, tunnels, taller climbers with soft material underneath, wagons and wheelbarrows, plastic bats and balls, plastic bowling pins, targets and things to throw at them, and a workbench with a vise, hammer, nails, and saw
If a child has access to a computer: programs that are interactive (the child can do something) and that children can understand (the software uses graphics and spoken instruction, not just print), children can control the software’s pace and path, and children have opportunities to explore a variety of concepts on several levels
Safety and children's toys
Safe toys for young children are well-made (with no sharp parts or splinters and do not pinch); painted with nontoxic, lead-free paint; shatter-proof; and easily cleaned.
Electric toys should be "UL Approved." Be sure to check the label, which should indicate that the toy has been approved by the Underwriters Laboratories. In addition, when choosing toys for children under age 3, make sure there are no small parts or pieces that could become lodged in a child’s throat and cause suffocation.
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