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Boy-Friendly Gift Guide–Preschool (2-4)

November 7, 2010


UPDATE: Looking for more ideas?  Check out the 2011 Edition here.

Welcome to the first day of the 1st Annual Mobmom Boy-Friendly Gift Guide. These toys and gifts are ones that I either have (***) or would buy for my sons personally. This list does not include the core “boy toys” of cars, trains, action figures and Legos because your house, like mine,  is probably full of those already. It also does not include any video games because we do not own any gaming systems so I don’t have much of an opinion on different ones.

You should probably know my basic toy-buying philosophy.

1) It has to be reasonably priced. I don’t have a lot of money to spend on things they aren’t going to play with. If it costs more, it has to be really awesome.

2) I prefer creativity-building toys that have multiple ways to play with them. You won’t see any “novelty” item toys like Tickle Me Elmo on my list. I, too, own a few, but they just don’t have the kind of “toy life” that puts them on my list.

3) I usually choose toys that do not require batteries.

These are in no particular order, and they are not all safe for young infants/children who eat toys, etc. Use your mama-sense.

Note: The prices are from Amazon unless otherwise noted (as of November 6, 2010). I am an Amazon Affiliate and if you click the picture of the toy to make your purchase, I receive a very small percentage of the sale, which helps fund our homeschool. Just FYI!



I picked up our set at a consignment sale, but this is a great, inexpensive toy that uses lots of imagination. It is simple enough for a 2 year old but with enough possibilities for an older child, too.  There are larger sets and cards that you can use to build specific structures if you want to keep adding to the fun over time.

***Quercetti Super Saxoflute


I wasn’t sure when I bought this one, but it has been so much fun. Besides making music, the sections can be used as tub toys, marble runs, and other creative uses. My 2-year-old recently put a stuffed felt number in a link and called it a “caterpillar.”  Your son can experiment with the sounds of different combinations of parts. Fun, creative, musical! toy.  This company has some other products with the same links but without the musical parts, if you prefer.

***Matchbox Recycling Truck


This is very similar to one that we have, but ours is older. What I love about the recycling or trash truck over the traditional trucks is the extra fun of filling up the dumpster and dumping it into the back. I know it sounds so simple, but my boys have played for hours using beads, pom poms, rocks, sand, etc. No batteries required!

***Crayon Rocks


These crayons are the perfect start for your little Picasso. Designed to look like little rocks, they encourage the proper tripod grip. You can’t palm or fist them as you can with other crayons.  Also, they come in a great little pouch. If you are feeling generous, by a box for your son’s preschool teacher.

Also they are brightly colored, made from soy wax,  and made in the USA. They are available from Magic Cabin.

Design and Drill Activity Center


I’ve been eyeing this one for a couple of years. It has the realistic drill-feel along with fine motor and patterning skills. Not sure about the 120 pegs, but if you can store them well. I think this would be a hit!

Weeble Treehouse Value Pack


We love Weebles, and this one got a nice review from the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio. They noted its turning handle on the conveyor belt as being particularly good for developing small hands and eye-hand coordination.  Knowing how my older son loves a conveyor belt of any kind, I think this will be a winner.

Geo Shape Tack Zap Set from HABA


My little boys love their tools. We are careful to make the distinction between “toy” and “tool,” but this toy from Haba gives them a “real-word” task that they will love. There is also a less expensive version available from Oriental Trading, but I’m not sure how well it might hold up.  Another low cost option is to take a tree stump and a bucket of nails, voila!

***Melissa and Doug Pound-a-Peg


This classic toy has gotten so much use around our house. On the same idea as the toy above, my little guy never tires of pounding these pegs. The wooden hammer and solid pegs that resist the hammer makes for a really satisfying experience.

***Dado Cubes


There is actually a series of Dado Cubes, Dado Squares and Dado Planks. I’ll mention the squares and planks with the older kids, but these Cubes make for beautiful and challenging stacking for the slightly older preschooler and nesting for the younger. My 2-year-old loves them. Also, you can combine them with additional sets to make larger structures.

***Marble Run


A word of caution: Marble runs contain marbles so if your child is prone to eat things they shouldn’t, hold off for a few years. The recommended age on this particular product is 4, but I do let my older 2 year old play with CLOSE supervision.

Now, you can spend the big money and get the Quadrilla or the HABA (which are incredible–go ahead and look) but if you are looking for a less expensive starter set, you can’t beat this one.  It comes with 23 blocks and 7 marbles in a nice cloth storage bag. The pieces are very sturdy and easy to build with.  I like that it is wooden. It makes a very satisfying sound as the marble rolls down.

Available from Magic Cabin. The larger set is pictured above(60 pieces for $44.98)

***Kid K’nex


Kid K’nex is a wonderful open-ended building toy for small hands. Unlike the older-kid version of K’nex these pieces are easier for small hands and are not restricted to blocks like other “young” versions of classic block toys. They are also cute and can be used to create a million different creatures large and small. There are a variety of sets from the Construction theme above to Undersea Pals, Dinos, Playground Pals, etc. 

Thanks for looking at the first day of the  Boy-Friendly Gift Guide.

Elementary (5-8) and Older Elementary (9-12) will follow later this week so check back.

If you have any ideas of favorite boy-friendly gifts for preschoolers, please comment below!

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