Top ten toys for the preschool classroom

Gift giving inspiration with meaningful toys that will enrich your children’s learning and development!

In case you happen to be considering getting a gift for your child’s classroom or you happen to be putting a wish list together for your own classroom, I have put together a snapshot of what I would consider to be the top ten (store-bought) toys my own students really enjoy playing with in my classroom.  I use the word “toys” kind of loosely here because when I purchase any type of toy for my classroom, I try to be selective and think through how my purchase will promote different types of development. With that in mind, here are the top ten toys I find most engaging or meaningful to the children (ranging from ages 3 to 5) in my preschool classroom…


Magnatiles are simply wonderful. My students use them to construct tall towers and they can be fun for a child who wants to work alone or for a group of children to collaborate together. We have the Magna-Tiles Clear Colors 100 Piece Set


Get some critical thinking and engineering going with a set of gears! There are different types of gears, I recommend Gears! Gears! Gears!® Beginner’s Building Set as a good place to start and I also recommend that if you choose to buy more than one set of Gears, that you do not mix the type of gears you buy…

Cootie Bug Game

Don’t forget about simple games like the Cootie Bug Game for the classroom.  Games like this allow the children to explore the process of playing a game without it becoming too much of a win-lose proposition…

Oh, and as a bonus – what I also like about games like the Cootie Bug Game  is that we are able to use the cootie bug parts for playdough as well! Double the fun:)


My students love puppets. We have a broad variety of puppets in our classroom from people puppets to animal puppets to puppets from the dollar store and more…

Straws and Connectors

We keep a basket of Straws & Connectors in our classroom year round and it didn’t take long before my students figured out how to connect their straws together for creating long lines and over a little bit of time and lots of play, they began to build much more complex structures…


We are always adding different types of blocks to our classroom. This simple set of colored wooden blocks is what gets used by far the most in our classroom.  The children often play with them on the floor for building and construction and I like to use them on occasion for some of our planned table top activities…

Block Accessories

We are also always adding different types of block accessories to our classroom. This Guidecraft 42 – Pc. Roadway System has been a real favorite in our classroom…


My students love all kinds of puzzles but we started off the year with different types of wooden chunky or 3D puzzles which the children really enjoyed and proved to be just the right challenge for all the ages of students in my classroom as well…

A second type of puzzle my students love to pull out for not only puzzle play but for dramatic play as well are these Sorting Food Tray Puzzles


My class enjoys playing with these really cool magnets called Magneatos.  We find they stand up best if you play with them on a magnetic board versus just a table or the floor…

Baby Dolls

My students enjoy playing with baby dolls all throughout the classroom.  I have a set of these simple hard body babies that I keep in the classroom. The children use them for play in both our indoor classroom and for water play in our outdoor classroom…

and just as a little bonus…


This last item wouldn’t really be considered a “toy” but a quality made easel with two sides (chalk and dry-erase) is a must for any preschool classroom…

Don’t Go Away – More Top Ten Toy Lists are below!

Be sure to check out these bloggers for more Top Ten Toy lists!

This holiday gift guide is being cohosted by…

Fun Gifts Beyond Toys by No Twiddle Twaddle
Book + Toy Companion Gifts by What Do We Do All Day?
Best Art Supplies for Kids by To Train Up a Child
Gifts to Inspire the Imagination by The Pleasantest Thing 
Gifts for Your Backyard Explorer/ Gifts for Your Animal Lover by Blog Me Mom
Educational Games by True Aim Education
Basic/Traditional Toys by Creative Playhouse
Therapeutic and Fun Gift Ideas for Child Development by Creative Learning Fun
Top Toys for Babies by B-InspiredMama
Top Toys for Curious Kids by KC Edventures
Educational/ Headache Free Toys for Christmas and Hanukkah by CAUTION: Twins at Play
4 Gift Ideas for Everyone: Want, Wear, Need, and Read by Home Learning Journey
Gifts that Inspire Pretend Play by Connecting Family and Seoul
My Favorite Books and Toys for Preschoolers by Mama Miss
Educational Toys for Preschoolers by The Freckled Homeschooler
Montessori Inspired Toys by Smiling Like Sunshine
Gift Ideas for Older Kids (9-12) by Kitchen Counter Chronicles
Toys for the Classroom by Teach Preschool
Gift Ideas for Budding Readers by Mom 2 to Posh Lil Dives
Stocking Stuffers: A Teacher’s Top 10 by Kindergarten & Preschool for Parents & Teachers
Book Ideas for Everyone on Your List by Pragmatic Mom
Toys that Stand the Test of Time by Mamas Like Me
Top Board Games for Kids and Families by Coffee Cups and Crayons
Home Made Gifts Children Can Make by How to Run a Home Daycare
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By |2018-12-17T15:19:38+00:00November 29th, 2012|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Deborah McNelis November 30, 2012 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS!!! It is always heartwarming to see hands on toys and products that promote creativity, imagination and self initiated exploration. Young growing brains will thank you for providing and sharing just what they need most for the healthiest development!

  2. Mary November 30, 2012 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing these selections. Toys that help keep the children engaged are needed.

  3. Tulip November 30, 2012 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    Love those magnatiles! I’ve never seen the straws and connectors, but I know my preschoolers would love them! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Julie December 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    My kids have Megnatiles. They are not only great for preschoolers, but withstand the test of time. My 9 year old still likes to play with them. I’m going to look into the straws and connectors. Thanks for the recommendations.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 3, 2012 at 5:46 pm - Reply

      I am not surprised at all that your 9 year old still like to play with them – I like to play with them too! Magnatiles really do stand the test of time!

  5. Alejandra Lopez December 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm - Reply

    Hi Deborah,

    Thank you for putting together this list! Forgot about straws and connectors exercise. Our preschoolers are the Makers of our Future!



  6. Sovanlyna Phin December 10, 2012 at 4:20 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing! Besides this one, we could explore some thing that integrated digital tools to help pre-school kids. Appreciate if you assist us to complete the survey below

  7. Becky Joiner December 26, 2012 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    I just love your sight! I have recently been approached about teaching kinders. I could use many of your ideas of exploring math with them. Great ideas and manipulatves! I want to know more about math tokens and how you use them. When they take them home… what do you encourage them to do with them? Wonderful ideas. Do you have a book or blog? I loved all of your ideas. Wow….

  8. Beth Bishop October 2, 2017 at 5:28 am - Reply

    I make a dough and let my 3 yr old roll it out and give him cookie cutter to make different shape he plays for hrs doing this..gonna try some of the other …you can also use cooking dough

  9. Montessori Toyz July 23, 2018 at 8:27 am - Reply

    Thank for sharing this list of top ten toys that kids like the most in the preschool classroom. these toys make playtime a learning experience.

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