The 31 ultimate affordable educational toys for your 3 – 4 year old

Alice | Letters to my DaughterBlog, Education & learning21 Comments

As much as we love a cuddly toy in our house (I still have my Care Bear from Christmas 1991!) we try to buy educational toys as much as possible. Educational toys make great gifts for other children too, as they're fun AND contribute to their future by nurturing their lovely minds. Really, if you think about it, an educational toy is a life-long gift!

If you're struggling with what to buy for a 3-4 year old, looking for some stocks for the present cupboard, or just want some inspiration for how to enrich your child's learning through play with educational toys, then this post is for you!

Everything listed is under £25 (at time of posting) and separated by price so it's easy to find something within your budget that your little recipient will LOVE! All toys are suitable for boys and girls, because they are just toys and toys don't have a gender... so go wild and pick whatever you think the child will enjoy playing with, regardless of colour.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a member of Amazon's affiliate scheme and have used affiliate links for each of the products below. If you click through from here, I'll get a small commission but the price you pay will be the same as going direct.

Educational toys under £5

Number stamps

A neat little set combining art and numeracy. I love thatthey're self inking too, so you don't need to try and keep them together with a separate ink pad.

Counting set

A simple but effective set to encourage counting and introduce children to maths symbols. The different coloured pieces mean you can practice sorting by colour as well.

Water drawing mat

I won't lie, you can get branded versions of this mat which are probably better quality, but also more expensive! Dee loves playing with her water mat and it's great for practising using a pen, and more exciting than writing on paper.

Story cards

My 6 year old niece loves writing stories so I bought her some story cubes last year for her birthday. For younger children, I love these cards which have big, colourful pictures on them to inspire imaginations and learning about story structure.

Educational toys under £10

Bead picture building set

Dee loves playing with this - it's very tactile and inspires imagination and creativity without making a mess. You could easily use the beads for numeracy to count, sort and look at size difference. It packs up easily too!

Dee plays with colourful bead game whilst sitting on sofa (The 31 ultimate affordable educational toys for your 3-4 year old - Letters to my Daughter)

Hammer & nails tap art

I got a rush of nostalgia with this! Did you play with one of these as a child? Great for fine motor skills and teaching responsibility with tools. I would trust my 3 year old with this, make your own call about yours!

Octons construction set

For fine motor development and stimulating imagination. These shapes can slot together in all sorts of ways to create whatever your little person can imagine!

Catch and count game

A great way to make numeracy fun. Spin the octopus spinner and get counting those bubbles. Orchard toys make so many great games that help children learn through play (and they even replace lost parts!)

Shopping list game

Dee has loved this game since she was 2 but it's still one she reaches for very often. Great for memory and learning about the world.


Catch and count game

A great way to make numeracy fun. Spin the octopus spinner and get counting those bubbles. Orchard toys make so many great games that help children learn through play (and they even replace lost parts!)

Alphabet puzzles

We're working on learning letters with Dee at the moment. I like these puzzles as an alternative to flashcards - it feels more interactive and immersive.

Space torch

I don't know about you, but my 3 year old is obsessed with torches. I love that this one is also a projector for images of space from NASA and the Hubble telescope.

Chunky tape measure

Give me a tape measure, and I will measure things! I'm sure our children are the same! Encourage strong maths skills and an understanding of measurements with this chunky tape measure.

Educational toys under £15

Alphabet stamps

Art & literacy combined in one handy set. The fact this set has upper and lower case letters is a winner for me, as kids can get creative writing their names, or stamping messages on birthday cards with capitals in the right places.

Den construction kit

Learn about physics and engineering, then snuggle up with a book once your den is built! This kit contains all the connectors, you just need to supply the blanket. Definite adult participation needed here.

Three little pigs game

A wonderful introduction to board games, touching on storytelling and numeracy as you count how many spaces to move on the board and relive the classic story.

Calendar clock

Dee is convinced that if it's light outside, it's morning. This toy helps teach children about time and date, as well as days of the week, weather and seasons.With lots of slidy and spinny bits, it's a fun way for little people to learn.

Bucket balance toy

Have fun balancing the buckets with whatever you have available. Dry rice, pasta, sand, water or ...a set of purpose made weights.

DIY dinosaurs

Dee has these and LOVES playing with the screwdriver to take them apart. And they come apart completely - it's not just taking the arms and legs off, oh no. You need to pay attention when taking it apart so you can put it back together again!

Magnetic construction set

I read a great review for a set similar to this one recently and really want to get hold of some for Dee. They're on our wish list - if you get them, please let me know how you get on!

World map bath puzzle

This is such a great idea to introduce children to our planet and all it contains. Not only is it a jigsaw puzzle, it's also a map of the world, AND a bath toy! I wonder if it can also brush teeth and put children to bed?

Educational toys under £20

Gardening set

Dee loves playing with her gardening set, particularly cracking out the watering can and watering the plants (or the sink... or pieces of paper if you're not quick!) This is a fab way to introduce children to plant biology, and perhaps you could grow your own food!

Straw construction set

Fine motor skills, creativity and physics combine in a fun toy that has endless possibilities!


This looks like a toy but is a functional micrscope! Encourage kids to examine leaves, flowers, bits of food, their fingers...whatever they can get their hands on. Get a close up view of the world and learn about what it's made of.

Build your own engine set

This a fab little toy that helps children learn about engines, whilst practising their fine motor skills by using the tools. If I'd have had one of these, maybe I'd be less intimidated by looking under my car bonnet!

Click-A-Brick construction set

Another great construction set promoting STEM skills as children work to build birds following instructions, or exercise their creativity to build whatever they can think of.

Educational toys under £25

Virtuali-Tee augmented reality t-shirt

Dee was given one of these as a gift, and I was lucky enough to be sent one of my own to review when I told Curiscope how great I think they are! These t-shirts, when viewed through the assosciated app, show you your virtual insides and let you explore various body systems. All the science fun! Pop over to my review for more info.

Science kit

I love all the accessories that come with this - from pipettes to a magnifying glass. With instruction cards included to carry out cool experiments, this is a no-brainer in the educational toy department!!

Stencil art set

This is a lovely set which includes loads of stencil sheets and coloured pencils. Encouraging writing skills and pencil control, as well as learning about silhouettes, shapes and colours. I would have loved this when I was a child!

Electro dough

Um, how cool?! This kit gives you the tools to make your own conductive playdough, and then use it with lights and switches to make your own circuits. It says ages 4+ but I would happily play with this with my 3 year old. Again - judgement call is down to you!

Bits & Bytes coding card game

This one might be better for 4 year olds, but it doesn't stop Dave getting Dee to play similar games on his PC already! We all know the future is in tech. The language of the future is code, so it's great to get kids learning it through play as early as possible.

So that's the list of ultimate affordable educational toys. I hope you've found something within your budget that would be great for the little person you have in mind.

Do you remember being 3 or 4? What were your favourite toys at that age? And what toys have your children enjoyed playing with the most at that age? Let me know in the comments below!

Learning through play is so important for a child's development. This list includes 31 affordable but educational toys for 3 - 4 year olds - perfect for gifts, to foster your own child's development or to stock up the present cupboard! - The 31 ultimate affordable educational toys for 3 - 4 year olds | Letters to my Daughter

21 Comments on “The 31 ultimate affordable educational toys for your 3 – 4 year old”

  1. Although even the youngest here is almost 10 I recognised so many of these . I think our record one day was playing that shopping list game 12 times. Some have stood the test of time though , she still loves a jigsaw….as does her 16yo brother actually!! #blogcrush

  2. These are great!! I have a water drawing mat for Stanley and it’s great! The play tape measure (he’s obsessed with tape measures atm as we have just moved so I’ve been measuring all sorts haha) and the story cards look fab too I’ll have to look into those! Fab post! #BlogCrush

  3. What a good idea for a post, amazing how many affordable and educational toys there are. We have the peg board and it’s an old favourite, great for those sick at home days too. #blogcrush

  4. So many of these caught my eye!
    The hammer and nail puzzle, the bead picture art, the virtuali-tee, what wonderful things to have around the home! I am trying to limit the electronic toys my daughter gets and hoping to get her some toys that spark her imagination and inspire learning outside of school! Fabulous list!

  5. Ooh so many fab ideas here! We’ll have our littlest’s 4th birthday upon us very soon so this lost will be brilliant. We love the shopping list game and I really think mine would both love the Bead picture building set. Thanks for hosting #blogcrush xx

  6. Lots of great ideas here. I had one of those bead picture things when I was little and I loved it – I didn’t know they still existed! And we love the Orchard board games in our family – our in-laws have the shopping list one and it’s one of the things our girls ALWAYS play with when we go and stay with them #blogcrush

  7. Great selection of toys! We’ve got a few of these, or similar variations, and Penguin’s delays mean that most of them are still suitable for him. Age is after all but a number, right? 😉
    I can’t quite remember what my own favourite toys were at that agape, but I think Lego must have been one of them… or maybe that was a bit later. Books were deffo a favourite, as were crayons, and things that made sounds (Fisher Price grammofone, toy piano, harmonica etc). And mud, stones and sticks, haha ☺️ xx #BlogCrush

    1. I still love playing with some of these too, so you’re right, age is just a number! We just bought a massive box of off-brand Lego from Smyths for £10. Think Dave and I are having more fun with it than Dee at the mo though. 🙂

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