The 9 Very Best Toys for Your 4-Year-Old
Four-year-olds are really something, huh? They are wiggling their way right out of little-kid territory and starting to fully embrace their new big-kid status...and it’s super exciting to watch! There’s a good chance you're already noticing their greater sense of independence, their improved reasoning skills, and an uptick in their self-control. (Yippie!) With all those amazing changes comes a shift in what toys feed their ever-expanding interests and abilities. So, here’s a little help selecting the absolute perfect gift for your favorite 4-year-old!
There are no bigger attention-seekers than excitable 4-year-olds, with their look-what-I-can-dos and watch-me requests. The world, quite literally, is their stage! They’re learning so much and so eager to share...and that’s great! Seek out toys that allow your tot to show off their skills and that scream “YES, I want to see you!” If your preschooler loves to perform, consider a child-size microphone or a Bluetooth karaoke version, karaoke machine, gymnastics mat, play stage, puppet show theater, juggling or magic show set, “real” instruments for kids, a roll of tickets for special performances.
Early STEM Toys
A 4-year-old’s attention span is getting longer and longer, making now a great time to start introducing toys that help bolster your child’s interest (and skills) related to science, technology, engineering, and math. (Of course, always choose toys based on age-appropriateness! Check the box before buying.) Some ideas include classic wooden blocks, blueprint building kits, butterfly garden kits, anatomy playsets, coding toys, gears and magnet building sets, a jumbo magnifying glass, a preschool-friendly microscope or telescope, marble runs, or 4-year-old friendly math games, such as Sum Swamp, Yahtzee Jr., Monkey Balance, and Feed My Pets.
Upgraded Classic Toys
It’s not a surprise if your 4-year-old already has a stash of realistic diecast cars, a simple train set, or, say, a bin filled with wooden blocks—these are all great toys for 3-year-olds! At 4, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel when it comes to these childhood favorite toys. Instead, look for ways to enhance their play, keeping in mind their budding imagination and improved motor skills. For train-lovers, think about adding accessories like overpass pieces, tunnels, suspension bridges, magnetic cranes...and wee people to spur more playtime storytelling. If your child is into cars, think about introducing a remote-control vehicle to the mix, a diecast transporter, or a racetrack. Finally, this is a great age to add new types of blocks to your bin, like ones shaped like turrets, arches, towers, cylinders, and stones.
While finger painting sure was fun (and messy!), your budding artist is ready to level-up their art supplies. Preschoolers can now use their pencils, markers, and crayons with greater precision thanks to strengthening hand muscles. Plus, at 4 years old, not only is your kiddo’s attention span growing, so is their attention to detail. Some stellar gifts that feed the artist within include, kid scissors, LCD writing tablet, easel, rainbow scratch paper, textured paint brushes, oil pastels, glitter glue sticks, spiral art kit, rubbing plates, suncatcher paint kits.
Early Board Games
At 3 years old, tykes can participate in family game night with simple, fun, no-reading-required board games...and your 4-year-old should 100% continue playing all their favorites from last year! But now you can add a few new board games to the mix that take advantage of their ever-developing cooperative play skills, like teamwork, turn-taking, and sharing—and their improved coordination, too. Some faves that bolster pre-reading skills include Zingo and Alphabet Bingo. Yeti in My Spaghetti, Shark Bite, and Baby Shark Let’s Go Hunt hone dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and giggles. Pancake Pile-Up fine-tunes gross motor and sequencing skills, Hoot Owl Hoot buoys working-together know-how, and Orangutwang is masterful at shoring up a kiddo’s critical thinking skills. And they are all fun fun fun!
These Ride-on Toys!
From tricycles to swoon-worthy motorized mini vehicles, kids love a ride-on toy. And by the time your child is 4, they may just be ready for the ultimate big-kid ride-on: a bicycle! Chances are, all their 2- and 3-year-old trike-riding means they’ve already learned the basics like pedaling, steering, and braking. You could also consider going the balance-bike route, which lets kiddos practice keeping steady on two wheels before they have to worry about putting their feet to pedals. Usually, a 4-year-old would need a 12- to 14-inch bike, though taller kiddos may do better with a 16-inch. For max ease and comfort, your child’s inseam should be at least as long as the minimum seat height and the bicycle should be as lightweight as you can find.
Getting the mail is fun for 4-year-olds...and it’s even more fun when they’re expecting a cool new toy or experience every single month! Is your kiddo into experimenting and discovery? Try STEM-forward KiwiCo Koala Crate. How about helping in the kitchen? There’s America’s Test Kitchen’s Preschool Chefs' Club and Raddish Kids Cooking Club. For a monthly book delivery you can try Amazon Book Box or Literati Club Sprout. To expand your kiddo’s world view, try Little Passports’ Early Explorers box. For sticker fun or make-and-play kits, consider Pipsticks or a Sago Mini Box subscription.
Chances are, you’re noticing that your 4-year-old can truly empathize with characters in a storybook and they do things like offering hugs to someone who’s sad. That’s because preschoolers are at the start of their journey learning how to show concern for—and how to comfort—others. Take advantage of this emotional and cognitive leap with toys that foster this budding sense. Think about toys that encourage empathy and pretend play, like a play doctor or nurse kit—or a veterinarian kit where children treat and heal a soft kitty or puppy. There are also spot-the-emotion games, feelings/emotion dolls, and dolls that simply don’t look like your kiddo. Gifting children dolls across a variety of colors, genders, sizes, and careers help to widen their scope, which is a building block of empathy.
Outdoor Toys for Winter
It’s so very important for preschoolers to get their cute little selves outside...no matter the season! Since fresh air and getting energy out is the perfect gift for your kiddo and you, consider winter-friendly options like a snowball making tool, a sit-on excavator, snow paint, play snowshoes, snow molds, snowman kit, a snow saucer (supervised play only!), or bubbles. Just make sure your 4-year-old is properly bundled for their outdoor play. Here’s how to make sure they’re safe and cozy.
More Great Toys for Kids:
- Best Toys for 2-year-olds
- Best Toys for 1-year-olds
- Best Toys for 6-month-olds
- Best Books for Baby
- Best Gifts for Baby’s First Holiday
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.