The good news is that at preschool age, just about every type of play is physical, and the more toys your child has, the broader the range of benefits they will be getting. It’ll also help to fend off boredom, which can be the bane of any parent’s life!
Try to buy a variety of toys when you shop, or look for toys that he or she doesn’t particularly like, or has outgrown, that you can trade with another parent for something new.
Toys that boost gross motor skills include:
Toys that your child can push or pull. Toys on a string, a toy stroller or a toy lawnmower are all great choices.
Sporting equipment or toys. Balls to kick, and throw, are very important developmental aids. Just make sure that you buy those made of soft rubber to begin with!
Toys that your child can ride. Motorbikes that your child can push along with his or her feet, or wagons that are low to the ground, and don’t have pedals are best at first. Those with pedals, like a tricycle, are perfect from around age three or four.
Rockers. Whether it’s a rocking horse or a rocking chair, it’s great for development.
Action toys or equipment. Look for toys that can be used inside and out, that have tunnels, climbing surfaces and slides. All great for encouraging active play!
When it comes to fine motor skills, look for the following:
Blocks and other stacking or building toys. Make sure they’re big enough not to be a choking hazard, or look for a shape sorter – also great for co-ordination!
Anything that your child can use to write, draw or paint are also great choices, so stock up on art supplies. Just make sure they’re water soluble, for the inevitable cleanups, and non toxic, so they’re child friendly.
Puzzles and other toys that require manipulation. At this age, your child may be ready to move from wooden puzzles to jigsaw puzzles, or even large foam floor puzzles.
Games that require matching, like peg boards or felt boards are also great to develop the fine motor skills your child needs.
It may not be physical, but while you’re at it, don’t forget toys that encourage language skills:
Play props. Whether it’s a superhero costume or an old hat, anything that your child can wear to indulge in fantasy play is a great addition to a dress up box!
And lastly, books. No child can ever have enough books, and at this age, your child is ready for exciting new stories, so take a look at some of the options out there and stock up.