Discovery Toys. My sister is a new rep for them so we've been talking about the products. I remember this company as the one who made the Tangrams I loved when I was a kid. I'm not normally one to be into a lot of toys but I've been impressed with the combination of simple + educational + fun.
We have a little friend turning three. He loves boats so I had a a boat puzzle picked out, but it turned out to be a little old for him. I instead got him one of Julie's recommendations, the Giant Pegboard. She says her three year old loves it. I got it, but I wasn't really sure what the point was. There are 25 pegs in five colors and five shapes. They go in the pegs or stack in each other. I got it out of the box just to see what one would do with it. I didn't want to give something that was too young for him or that I didn't know how to play with.
My kids really loved this thing. I sent Sammy to check it out and he was thrilled with it. The pegs are plenty big for his chubby fingers but require enough dexterity to be challenging. I sent Zack to check it out and twenty minutes later he was still proudly making patterns based on the shapes and colors. I think it's pretty good if my six and two year old enjoy it! I sat down with Sammy and felt like we were really having fun, educational play. I was pretty pleased by the time we took it to the birthday party. I felt compelled to warn the parents that it didn't look like there was much point but it had performed really well with the kiddos. A few hours later my friend sent me this picture: