Sarina has owned the Mobigo since last summer, and it's been a steadfast companion whenever we have downtime. It's a terrific little handheld gaming/learning system for young kids (they suggest 3-8, and I agree). Simple to use, with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and the game it comes with is very good quality. My daughter has just one other game so far, and it's kept her entertained for months. Every time she finishes a game, she rushes over with excitement to show me her new score.
2. FurReal Friends Lulu
The same size and softness as a real cat, this one's the next best thing. It purrs, it rolls over to have its belly pet, it meows, it blinks... it can sense when you walk by or wave your hand in front of it (it meows for your attention). In short, it's a great option if you have a child who loves cats, but can't have one due to allergies or other reasons. Or in my case, a child who wants another cat, but Momma really doesn't. About the only negative is that you can hear a mechanical noise as it moves around, which does take away a bit of the mystique.
3. Pillow Pets
This was the first item on my daughter's Christmas list this year, and I knew it was going to be one of the "hot" toys, so I bought it way early in case it sold out. Well, it hasn't sold out by any means, so you can still grab one if you like. It's a stuffed animal that doubles as a pillow when you "un-Velcro" the bottom. My only issue was that the unicorn my daughter wanted has inconsistent quality-- many of them have fur "growing over" their eyes, to the point where you can barely see any eyes at all. But I took my chances with the scissors, and found that a good haircut was all that was needed. These Pillow Pets are a good size (unlike some smaller knock-offs), soft, and very kid-approved.
4. Step2 Deluxe Canyon Road Train Table
One of my best purchases-- I bought this before Sarina was even 2 years old, and it's still going strong. What's so great about this train table is that it's all built in-- there are no little parts to lose. It's molded plastic, so you don't have to worry about it falling apart. It's very durable, and good for playdates for both boys and girls. You can use Thomas or other trains in it, as well.
5. Baby Alive 1st For Me
Although it's marketed for babies, this "first doll" is also perfectly appropriate to preschool girls who are going through a mothering phase. Right now, my daughter is all about taking care of babies, and this one is a wonderful pick. It makes appropriate cooing and giggling noises, and there's a fabric bottle attached to her hand that you can use to "feed" her-- there's also a sensor, so the baby makes sucking noises during feedings.
6. Monster Feet
The price varies on these on Amazon. I bought mine for under $10. Pretty self-explanatory: they're plastic "monster feet" steppers with rope handles to hang on to. Like mini-stilts. They're recommended for kids age 5-8, but I think a coordinated 3 or 4 year old would do fine with them, too. I'm presenting them to Sarina as dinosaur feet, so she can clomp around the house while singing Laurie Berkner's "We Are the Dinosaurs."
7. Shake 'n' Go Buzz Lightyear
The simplest racecar I've ever seen. All you do is shake it up, then put it on the ground, and it goes. The longer you shake it, the further it drives (up to 20 feet). Great for little ones who haven't mastered the motor skills needed for fancier remote controlled cars. It also makes engine sounds and says a few of Buzz's favorite phrases.