Drake’s birthday party just passed and while I sadly did not get any photos (too busy running around), Drake had a wonderful time surrounded by family and friends who love him.  This was the first birthday he really got it and took it all in — the balloons, the cake, the singing, and of course the gifts!  He got some wonderful presents which were all great for a new three year old, so I thought I would share some of the great toys and books he got in case you were hunting around for an idea for your child or next birthday party.

1) Easel – My best friend bought Drake this art easel from IKEA.  One side is for chalk and the other is a wipe board.  It’s perfect as Drake loves painting and I can easily now put the large paper on the wipe board side for him to paint if I am worried about paint getting on the door. Drake also loves chalk but up to now he was only able to use it when we were outside. On rainy days he often asks to draw with chalk and not being able to go outside is no longer a problem since he has a chalkboard now.

2) Battat Take A Part Plane– I think this is one of the neater toys that Drake received and I am amazed at how quickly Drake got it.  The premise is a plane (they have other models including a roadster, truck, etc.) that you can build yourself using a battery operated drill with different screw heads and screws.  Drake does need a little supervision when it comes to this toy, but after watching it being put together and taken apart a few times he fully understands how to use the drill. I have seen him taking the drill and unscrewing all the pieces. He has a harder time putting the plane together than taking it apart (though he can be a little rough which is why he does need an adult nearby), but after having the toy for only a few days I think it’s remarkable how quickly he understood the concept.  The plane has held up well to a three year old’s bashing attempts to dissemble it as well and while Drake might be on the younger end for this toy (it is for 3 and up), I think this is something he will really come to like as he grows. I am honestly contemplating buying another set for him for Christmas as I think it’s a great educational toy that promotes patience, learning a skill, and working at something to get a final product.

3) Tell Me a Story Cards – This is another neat toy I really liked.  It’s basically a pack of cards with different images to help tell a story. Since there are no words, children can pick up a card and look at it and tell you what they see.  Then they can pick up another card and add on to the story. While Drake is a little young for this as well, I think it’s going to be a great toy for when he is a little older and more articulate as it promotes imagination and story telling.  He can basically create his own story by picking through the cards with a narrative in mind or randomly as he goes.  Either way the stories can change as much as he wants and grow with him as he imagines. It’s such a simple idea but the possibilities are as big as a child’s imagination.  So far I have been letting Drake pick the cards and weaving the story for him since he is still young, but I can’t wait for the day when he tells me a story of his own creation.

4) Puzzles – Drake has really been liking puzzles a lot lately so I mentioned it to my mother and she picked up a few of these as part of her gift to Drake.  For a long time Drake was playing with peg puzzles which was great as he enjoyed the characters on them and could solve them fairly easily, so I told my mom to get him a few more complicated ones to help broaden is learning. She got him these 2 which I really liked.  The 24 piece Under the Sea one is more like a real puzzle and Drake already got one similar to this new one and has learned how to search for patterns and shapes to connect the pieces.  I knew Drake would love a letter puzzle as well since he is obsessed with letters, and it’s a great way to encourage him to branch out and learn how to spell more words.

5) Duplos – Drake has a fairly large collection of Duplos already, but really can you have too many of these things?  Duplos/Legos have been around forever simply because of how fun they are.  Drake is still a little young to follow the instructions to create the houses and other configurations the boxes allow, but he still enjoys building towers and other creations of his own choosing.  I like Duplos since they encourage his motor skills, imagination, and I use them as a toy to try to encourage sharing; sometimes I help him build and we work together and other times I try to encourage him to build something on his own and I build something on my own all the while sharing the same lot of Duplos.   This is a work in progress but it helps to have a lot of Duplos around since he can’t snatch them all away and build, so I figure the more the better.

6) Books – Drake loves books so of course I bought him some new ones and a few friends did too. In my mind you can never have too many books and clearly Drake does too since he dropped his toys and started flipping through the books as soon as he saw some of them.  These were a few of the ones he particularly liked: Harold and the Purple Crayon, Pop-up Peekaboo: Woof! Woof!, Sniff, The Way Back Home.

7) Remote control car – What little boy doesn’t love remote control cars? In the past Drake has received a few other remote control cars, but they were all kind of too old for him, he was a little rough with them and the controls were too complicated for him.  Most of the time he would end up just chasing the cars as Mr. Chocolate used the remote, and that didn’t keep his interest as much.  When he opened this gift I could see the delight in his face as he recognized what it was, and I liked it since it seemed more age appropriate for him.  The controls are simpler with forward, backward and a wheel that turns. The car itself is also more engaging in looks for a toddler, has various modes of talking and singing, and overall is sturdy for rough little hands.  Drake has shown more interest in this car than any other remote car he has.

8) Ride On Construction Digger – This was one of the gifts Mr. Chocolate and I bought for Drake because his babysitter has this toy and Drake loves it.  Almost every time Mr. Chocolate goes to pick Drake up at the sitter’s he is found playing on this toy, wearing a construction hat, and happily making vroom noises.  Drake as a whole has never shown a great interest in ride ons or bikes — his babysitter has tons since she has 3 boys herself — and she says Drake will usually never want to sit on or go on rides with her son. So when we saw how much he took to this ride on toy, we knew we had to get it for him for his birthday.  Since Chocolate Baby is coming and I’m not sure what will happen next September with work — I’m not sure if Drake will even go back to the sitter anymore — I wanted to get him this toy that he loved so much, complete with the hat.  So far he has taken to it the same way he does at the sitter’s and it makes us happy to see him so happy.

What is on your list for the best gifts for 3 year olds?