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Play and toys to help your child develop - 3 to 5 years old

At this age, your child may be attending pre-school through the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme.

They will play and do activities with trained early childhood practitioners.

Find out about the types of things your child does at pre-school and what they enjoy. Ask them about paint marks on their hands, muddy shoes and craft items sent home.

During these years, you will see progress in how they interact in activities and play with toys. For example, their ability to balance on a scooter from two feet progresses to setting off with one foot. Their ability to follow directions and rules for games will also improve.

Ways to play with children this age include:

  • Encourage more ball activities like kicking, catching and throwing.
  • Use music and action songs, such as ring-a-ring-a-rosie.
  • Let them help with little jobs around the home.
  • Encourage them to push along on or pedal a tricycle or small bike with stabilisers.
  • Introduce balance bikes and scooters.
  • Continue chasing games and hide-and-seek.
  • Try copycat activities – tiptoes, skip, jump, hop.

Toys and items children of this age will enjoy:

  • Sand or water with a basin, plastic jugs, cups, sieves.
  • Bath toys like sponges.
  • Dressing up clothes like old hats, a doctor's white coat or super hero cape.
  • A tricycle, small bike with stabilisers or a scooter.
  • Large and small balls.
  • A play kitchen area with empty food packets, plastic cups and utensils.
  • A workbench with toy tools and hardhat.
  • Colourful story books.
  • Non-toxic paint and crayons.
  • Stencil patterns.
  • Finger paints.
  • A window box or small area in the garden to dig and grow seeds.
  • Hula hoops.
  • Skipping ropes.
  • Puzzles.
  • Simple dice games.
  • Lotto games.

Developmental milestones for children aged 3 to 5 years

Page last reviewed: 20 April 2021
Next review due: 20 April 2024

This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.