How your 3-year-old might play now

    • She likes dressing up or pretending she's someone else
    • He loves to move and does not care to be still
    • She's reassured to hear that people love her
    • He begins to compare and contrast himself with others
    • Basic ball play—like catching or kicking a ball—can improve balance and coordination
    • He can throw a ball a short distance and can catch it if it's thrown directly in his arms
    • She starts drawing faces and people
    • He can make balls, sausages and figures out of play dough
    • Her squiggles begin to look like writing
    • He shows sympathy for storybook characters
Learning toys
  • crawlerImg

    Create & Learn Apptivity™ iPod® Case - Blue

    Academics Curiosity & Discovery Imagination & Creativity
  • crawlerImg

    Smart Tablet

    Academics Fine Motor Sensory Thinking & Problem Solving
  • crawlerImg

    Create & Learn Apptivity™ Case for iPhone® - Pink

    Academics Curiosity & Discovery Imagination & Creativity

Help your child learn more:

    • Experiment. Help your child try out all the different things a toy does. Notice which activities she seems most comfortable with. Repeating things again and again is a normal part of learning.
    • New and different. Expose your child to a wide range of topics. If she takes an interest in a particular subject, get related books and videos from the library or search the internet for facts about it.
    • Is it round? Give your child's budding reasoning skills a boost with a junior version of "Twenty Questions." Think of a person, place or thing and have him ask you Yes or No questions to discover what it is. "I'm thinking of something we ate for lunch today." ("Is it round? Is it red? Is it crunchy?") Reverse roles so he answers the questions.
    • That’s my name! Show where the letters of her name are on a computer keyboard and let her type them. Print it out and post it on the fridge. In time she'll recognize the individual letters and see how they're grouped to form her name.
    • Let’s play. Find age-appropriate games on children's websites. Using the keyboard can improve your child's fine-motor skills, which he'll use a lot in kindergarten.
Playsets and action figures
  • crawlerImg

    Imaginext® Eagle Talon Castle

  • crawlerImg

    Imaginext® DC Super Friends™ Batcave

    Fine Motor Imagination & Creativity Self-Expression & Confidence
  • crawlerImg

    Imaginext® Alpha Explorer

Help your child learn more:

    • What if … Prompt imaginative play with different scenarios once your child is familiar with a toy.
    • Point out heroes in your neighborhood, country or the world. Explain why heroes are special people. Your child is still too young to really know about current events, but remember how much kids absorb from hearing the news or adults' conversations.
    • Tell me a story. Asking your child to tell you about what he's pretending will encourage thinking and help develop language and communication skills. Every once in a while ask, "What did Billy Blazes do today?"
Role-play toys
  • crawlerImg

    Medical Kit

    Imagination & Creativity Sensory Sharing & Cooperation
  • crawlerImg

    Loving Family™ Dream Dollhouse with Caucasian Family

    Fine Motor Imagination & Creativity Security & Happiness
  • crawlerImg

    Grow-With-Me Kitchen™ Cook & Care!

    Fine Motor Imagination & Creativity Security & Happiness Self-Expression & Confidence

Help your child learn more:

    • What do they do? If your child's interested in a particular occupation or theme, feed that curiosity. Visit the library or go online and research together. Attend shows or demonstrations at local grocery stores, home and garden centers, or fair grounds.
    • Two heads are better than one. When you and your child put your imaginations together, you'll be amazed at how much more realistic and fun your play will become. If your toy is a medical kit, create an area for the doctor's office or hospital. Make a sign for the door: "The doctor is in." Gather willing patients (dolls and stuffed animals are always in need of a check-up). Put magazines and a chair in your waiting room, with a play phone for the receptionist.
    • Get them started. If your child needs a few play prompts to get the idea, be the receptionist or nurse and suggest "problems" for her to solve. "Mrs. Johnson isn't feeling well. Can you see her right away?"
    • Take turns being doctor and patient with your child, and listen carefully to what he says in each role. You'll gain new insight, and he'll gain new confidence!
    • What’s for lunch? With a play kitchen, ask: "What will you make? What will you put in your soup? Do you have to go shopping first?" Help measure, mix and pour.
Cars, vehicles and RC toys
  • crawlerImg

    Shake ’n Go!® Disney•Pixar Cars Rally Race Lightning McQueen

  • crawlerImg

    Thomas & Friends™ Take-N-Play™ Spills & Thrills on Sodor

  • crawlerImg

    Thomas & Friends™ Preschool Steam ’n Speed™ R/C Thomas

Help your child learn more:

    • On your mark, get set … For guaranteed fun, get down on the floor and play right alongside your child. Bring other vehicles into the play, then find yourselves in a race!
    • Create imaginary scenarios for play. Does your racecar need to stop at the garage for repairs? Use a play tool set or child-safe real tools (with your supervision, of course) to add to the fun. Tell your child the name of the tool and what it's used for. Talk about how other tools are used.
Toys that encourage creative expression
  • crawlerImg

    Create & Learn Apptivity™ Case for iPad® - Blue

    Academics Curiosity & Discovery Imagination & Creativity
  • crawlerImg

    Doodle Pro® Classic Doodler with 2 Stampers (Red)

    Fine Motor Imagination & Creativity Self-Expression & Confidence
  • crawlerImg

    Create & Learn Apptivity™ Case for iPhone® - Pink

    Academics Curiosity & Discovery Imagination & Creativity

Help your child learn more:

    • Show interest in your child's creations. If you can, stop what you're doing and check it out when he says, "Hey, Mom! Look what I made!" or "Watch this dance I made up!" Set aside special time when you can focus on your child. Ask her to demonstrate her work, and praise her abilities.
    • Encourage self-expression. Can he explain why he's created a certain drawing or video? Or why she thinks her music sounds a certain way? Encourage talking about ideas and feelings.
    • Capture memories. Let your child take photos to document experiences. Help add special effects or a fun digital border.
    • Music, please. Make sure your child is exposed to music and art. Take a trip to a gallery or sculpture park; attend plays and concerts just for kids.
Battery-powered ride-ons
  • crawlerImg

    Power Wheels® Kawasaki KFX® (Green)

  • crawlerImg

    Power Wheels® Barbie™ Jammin’ Jeep® Wrangler (Pink)

  • crawlerImg

    Power Wheels® Ford F-150 SVT Raptor (Red)

Help your child learn more:

    • Begin with full instructions about starting, stopping and steering. Set the vehicle on its slowest speed at first to give your child some warm-up time.
    • Safe and sure. Make sure the area your child is riding in is not only safe, but also big enough to make turns. Always directly supervise your child and be certain she's absolutely clear about where it's safe to ride.
    • Practice makes perfect. Set up an obstacle course with traffic cones or kid-sized road signs you've made together. Tell your child about some of the basic traffic symbols, and point out real road signs when you're driving together.
    • Taking turns. If your child is sharing the vehicle with a sibling or friend, a timer can be a helpful, impartial "announcer" when it's someone else's turn to drive.
    • Parking spot. Find a safe place for your child to "park" his vehicle in your garage or shed, with the responsibility to return it there when he's done driving.

I Can Do It!

Average Rating

out of 45 vote(s)

Help your child become aware of all the wonderful things she can do! This is a great way to build her self-confidence and self-esteem.

Materials

  • Magazines with pictures or picture books that show kids doing things

Instructions

  • Look through magazines or picture books together that show kids doing things.
  • Ask your child if she can do the things that are shown.
  • Have her explain how she does them.
  • Let her demonstrate if she likes!
  • If she says she can't do something, ask her why not.
  • Discuss with her all the things you can and cannot do. Make sure to explain how or why not.

Safety

Make sure to select plenty of pictures of activities your child knows how to do, so she won't feel like a failure. Don't pressure her to do things she's not ready to do.

Which toys promote learning?

I recommend a variety of toys for learning, not just those labeled as such. In some way, all toys have some learning benefits. In fact, you’d be amazed by what children can learn from even the most basic toys. For example, blocks and buil Read More

Tips: Why Play Is So Important

Play helps children learn about themselves and their understandings of their expanding physical and social worlds. Play gives children opportunities to figure out how things work, how to get along with others and to try on new role Read More

Problems at Preschool: Advice from Moms

Alicia in Raleigh Your preschooler is learning to interact with other children, in surroundings other than home. If you put her back in preschool the teachers should help by directing her "negative" actions in a "positive" direction. My toddler gets Read More