Ten Toys Sets Three-Year-Olds Enjoy : Begetter's Log
Katie Foth

Ten Toys Sets Three-Year-Olds Enjoy

by Katie Foth on 06/03/18

Wow! It's June, and I've frittered away three whole months without posting a thing. Well, not exactly "frittered." At the beginning of February, I accepted the position of full-time teacher for the Goldfish Class at Park Place Children's Center, and I've been working hard to keep my class interesting and my students engaged in learning. 
All of my children are now three years old, and due to their age, we've been able to enjoy different activities, thanks in part to Toys 'R Us marking down some cool toys during their going-out-of-business sale:
PlayFoam Alphabet Set
(1)  Tracing PlayFoam Letters - A Great Addition to My Surprise Box
The kids love seeing what's in my surprise box... almost always something that goes with the letter of the week. They loved the tacky texture of the Educational Insights PlayFoam Shape & Learn Alphabet Set. What good practice for developing fine motor skills!
Imaginarium Safari Marble Run
(2)  Building a Marble Run
Rolling balls fascinate and delight young children. The safari elements of the Imaginarium Discovery Safari Marble Run attracted my students initially. I had to teach them how to be gentle with the stacked blocks and movable track, but the children were hooked once we started rolling balls. One bright child even started building his own run after a few days.
This set is great for experimentation. We discovered that the monkey-spinner slows the ball down so it doesn't jump off the track on the curve that follows. The elephant needs to be placed right after an incline so its trunk doesn't trap the ball. Small superballs, ping-pong balls, and plastic golf balls will roll down the track, but they're too big to pass through the monkey-spinner. Smaller metal marbles are too heavy and jump the track on curves. The colored wooden balls that come with the set are perfect.
(3)  Building with a Ball-and-Socket Set
The Imaginarium Discovery Socket-Building Set became an instant favorite for table toys, especially after our unit on outer space introduced the idea of robots and moon buggies. Of course, the boys are always drawn to constructing swords or guns, which I do not allow them to use in class.
(4) Designing a Village with City Blocks
The Imaginarium City Blocks Set immediately caught my eye and brought back fond childhood memories of building a village of blocks. The blocks are painted to look like a police station, fire station, grocery shop, bistro, dress shop, etc. My three-year-old friends especially liked the two bridges and the little cars that go under them.
(5) Piecing Together the Planets Floor Puzzle
My three-year-old friends loved the Melissa & Doug Solar System Floor Puzzle, and I love that the exercise of putting together the shiny 48 extra-thick cardboard pieces demands the development of spatial skills and experimentation (rotating the piece to see if it fits). Children also learn to notice and match details (purple Pluto, Saturn's rings), and they learn to persist in their efforts until they're rewarded with the whole fantastic picture. Great skill-building!
(6)  Building with Magnetic Tiles
There are lots of different magnetic-tile products available. My preschool ordered a variety pack similar to the Jolly Mags Set.  The children love making garages and rockets and even pizzas out of the magnetic pieces. They're almost always in use!
(7) Molding Play Dough
My list would not be complete without Crayola Play Dough. What child doesn't love the stuff? I usually buy the Super Color Pack of 20 medium tubs so that there's a different color for each friend in my class (my school allows a group up to 14 in my class, though I usually have a few less). The children love the box of plastic tools--rolling pins, knives, scissors, pizza cutters, cookie cutters, and extruders (for making funny-shaped hair or noodles).
(8) Sorting Fruits and Vegetables
I bought my Learning Resources Farmer's Market Color Sorting Set in early February, before Toys 'R Us announced its closing, and I haven't at all regretted the money I spent. The children loved showing off how they could sort the fruits and vegetables. They enjoy adding other plastic food items they've found in the play kitchen, such as yellow pineapple slices and green pea pods, okra, avocados, and asparagus. Add a shopping basket and a cash register, and you're ready for loads more fun. The Learning Resources Counting Cans Set and the Learning Resources A to Z Alphabet Groceries Set are nice additions to a store.
(9)  Dressing Up with Melissa & Doug
Melissa & Doug offer some of the nicest, most durable dress-up costumes for preschool children. It's hard for me to say which of the four costumes in my room is the most popular: the construction worker, police officer, fire-fighter, or doctor. They're all in frequent use! Each dress-up set comes with great props, most of which fit inside the pockets of the costume.
 
I've installed plastic hooks on the wall, along with a picture of each costume. When I first introduced these costumes, we practiced matching up the accessories to the costume, then matching the costume to the picture above the hook on the wall (where the costume is stored). The children don't always remember to put their costumes away properly, but they do know exactly where to return them when prompted.
(10) Marching with Musical Instruments
Oh, my goodness! The children have had so much fun parading around the room to strains of John Phillips Sousa's rousing marches, particularly on rainy days. My collection of musical instruments comes from various sources and includes tambourines, drums, jingle bells, cymbals, plastic recorders, castanets, maracas, rhythm sticks, harmonicas, kazoos, a xylophone, and a triangle. I've taught them to wash off certain instruments (recorder, harmonica, and kazoo) before using, and they enjoy using the sink to do so.
That's it! I have a few more toy sets I'm saving for later (Imaginarium Froggy Dominoes, Imaginarium Geometrics Building Set and Imaginarium Robot-Building Set). As you may guess, I'm a proponent of developing the mind along with the muscles!

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