Buying a gift for a preschooler is usually a lot of fun. By this age, their play has become more elaborate and the opportunity for gifts grows. We spoke with Penny Glass, PhD, director of the Child Development Program at Children’s National, to find out the most age-appropriate gifts for preschoolers. 

“The best gift you can give a preschooler is something they can use to play with another child,” Dr. Glass said. Learning to play together and sharing is an important developmental milestone for young children. 

Preschool toy suggestions

  • Tea party set
  • Building blocks and Legos
  • Road map carpet and cars
  • Dress-up costumes

Group interaction toys are great for mental development. 

“With building blocks, children can build themes from point A to point B, like a road from the house to the school and the children narrate what they’re doing,” Dr. Glass says. “And with dress up, there is an explosion of mental activity as play becomes more role-taking, like, ‘I’m going to be the mommy, you’re going to be the daddy.’”

Learning to role-play can also help prepare a child for a doctor’s appointment, by helping the child understand how the visit will unfold. The child gets to play doctor, which helps lessen anxiety when they visit the real doctor.

“A great way to decide what your child needs is to sit and watch what your child is doing and think ‘what would be an additional thing that would make this thing they enjoy a little more interesting?’ As you build on what they’re doing, they stay in that realm and you help them become more creative in that activity,” Dr. Glass said.

What are some activities that your preschoolers enjoy?  


Penny Glass, PhD, is director of the Child Development Program at Children's National.

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