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Our Top 3 Picks for Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds
As toddlers grow into preschoolers, they become more nuanced. So do their toys. Colorful blocks remain a hit with this set, but 4-year-olds also love board games, art projects and electronics. Their increased focus and fine motor skills allow them to concentrate on using scissors, tracing shapes and assembling puzzles. Of course, preschoolers also have oodles of energy. They love practicing gymnastics and climbing anything in their path.
You might notice your 4-year-old advancing their make-believe game. Preschoolers have higher levels of empathy, which helps them imagine they are doctors or superheroes, moms or dads. They’re also highly social at this age and love playing make-believe or board games with a friend or two.
Preschoolers’ focus and curiosity allow for plenty of learning. But a 4-year-old’s primary job is still play. We think the best activities enable 4-year-olds to explore the world while having the most fun possible. To help maximize playtime, we researched everything from bikes to blocks and curated a list of the best toys for 4-year-olds.
- Our Top 3 Picks for Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds
- Top 3 Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds
- Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds: Active Toys
- Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds: Board Games
- Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds: Building Toys
- Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds: Arts & Crafts
- Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds: Make-Believe Toys
- Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds: Electronic Toys
- Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds: Under $15*
- Final thoughts
Top 3 Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds
A wobble board’s simplicity encourages open-ended play. In fact, this is easily the most open-ended toy on our list. Kids practice balancing and then turn the board into a bridge. The board becomes a tunnel for Hot Wheels or a doorway for forts.
We love that this toy can be active or sedentary, and encourages both physical growth and creative thinking. Its construction is beautiful too, and you won’t mind storing it out in the open. The Gentle Monster board is a unique gift without being too out-there. If you’re shopping for an imaginative, active kiddo, you can’t go wrong with a wobble board.
Magnetic tiles provide hours of building fun, and it’s no wonder there are tons of sets on the market. This one stands out because of the variety of shapes. BMAG included window pieces for kids’ play houses, as well as car bases and plenty of classic triangles. There are enough pieces for giant masterpieces and for kids to build alongside their friends.
We love how simple magnet blocks are to use. They click together easily enough for toddlers to participate, but can also make intricate designs that fascinate older children. Creative kiddos will construct magnetic art on the fridge, or incorporate paperclips and coffee cans into their magnetic skyscrapers. No other toy does such a good job of introducing kids of all ages to STEM concepts.
Play-Doh has been a trusted brand for generations. If you’re unsure about slime, you’ll feel safe with Play-Doh. This variety set comes with multiple textures and colors.
Kids will find sensory bliss with the bumpy Crackle slime. They can bury figurines in the squishy cloud slime. It seems like a straightforward toy, but slime lets kids play as simply or creatively as they’d like. It appeals to toddlers, adults, teenagers, and even kiddos with special needs.
We also find that slime play is a pretty independent activity. Adults are able to sit back and watch as their kids’ brains and hands get to work. Parents worried about mess should rest easy since slime comes off with vinegar. The versatility, texture and novelty will keep kids creatively occupied for hours.
Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds: Active Toys
Hauk’s go-kart wowed us for a myriad of reasons. The four-wheeled vehicle eliminates any need for training wheels. 3-year-olds can ride it before passing it on to 6-year-old siblings. The seat slides forward and back, allowing for riders of multiple ages and sizes. Since it’s kid-powered, your 4-year-old can race alongside any friend with a bike or tricycle. No need for batteries! And instead of handlebars, it has a steering wheel. Any child who dreams of racing will love holding the wheel as they take sharp turns at the park.
This flexible alternative to a pogo stick will be a hit with any active kid. Parents and siblings can take turns, too, because of the high weight limit and stretchy handle. Younger friends might have a hard time with this toy, but 4-year-olds will have a blast using their jumping and balancing skills to bounce around the house and yard. The jumper can be used indoors or outdoors, making it fun and useful year-round.
If you need a ride-on toy for the whole household, look no further than the PlasmaCar. This fantastic wiggle machine moves without pedals and holds a lot of weight. Two-year-olds can ride it as easily as older siblings, parents and grandparents. A seriously fun toy for everyone in the neighborhood.
Bring the bouncing indoors with a mini trampoline. This safely holds two 4-year-olds, but is roomier and more enjoyable for one. The netting keeps jumpers safe without getting in the way of fun. Kids happily practice their acrobatic moves during all kinds of weather, and parents enjoy watching their children safely burning off energy.
These turtle steps are the best of both worlds: an organized game with cards and a spinner, or open-ended adventure pieces. With some imagination, colorful turtle shells become outdoor stepping stones, islands during “the floor is lava”, a quasi balance beam, or even make-believe turtles. They hold a lot of weight so adults can participate too. This is the perfect blend of physical activity and imaginationary play.
Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds: Board Games
This stacking game resembles a next-level Jenga. It isn’t simply pulling blocks and building a tower. Players also draw cards, roll dice, select colors and match animals. If this isn’t enough to hold their interest, the blocks can be used for building or dominos too. It’s a wonderfully interactive game for many different ages.
Gamewright’s popular board game introduces kids to logic puzzles. In a way, it’s like Clue for the younger set. Players have to discover which fox stole Mrs. Plumpert’s pot pie by using a set of clues. It’s cooperative, which eliminates player-to-player competition. But by racing the clock, there’s still enough tension and pressure to make the game fun. Kids should enjoy this game well into elementary school, and parents will love playing alongside them.
What a great activity for cold or rainy days! It gives kids some focus while also letting them jump around. There’s a definite silly element as players slither like snakes and roar like dinosaurs. But children sharpen their mental skills by using memory to match the right heads and tails. It’s easy enough for younger siblings and fun enough for grown-ups.
ThinkFun took Bingo and made it more fun. Players use a slider to pick tiles every turn, and kids win by being first to fill up their board. It’s a basic concept that lets younger kids play too. But some of Zingo’s versions, like Sight Words, appeal specifically to preschoolers and up. 4-year-olds work on their numbers or reading skills while also bonding with family and getting joyfully competitive.
YOGI achieves the impossible by allowing kids to be calm and boisterous at the same time. The cute pictures, fun rhymes and cardboard dice create a variety of yoga games that kids and parents can play together. The box includes suggestions for other yoga-themed games, such as yoga tag. Kids will learn about mindfulness and meditation while moving their bodies and getting those wiggles out.
Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds: Building Toys
If your kid loves things that spin, check out this awesome gear set from ETI Toys. Kids use the interlocking pieces to make moving creations. They simply place gears on the board and watch them move together. Then they move on to building a train with a crank-powered chain. This set comes with directions, but is also perfect for open-ended play. We recommend ETI Toys’ gear kit for anyone who loves STEM toys.
This toy is fun right out of the box. But as a bonus, these pieces fit with LEGO DUPLO blocks. Kids should first follow the included instructions to build some cool marble runs. Then, with the addition of DUPLOs, they can take their creations to the next level. Builders will master engineering concepts as they piece together skyscrapers and top them off with ramps, curves and straightaways.
Classic LEGO blocks are a hallmark of childhood. But even dexterous preschoolers have an easier time building with chunky DUPLOs. This box provides your builder with a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Once they’ve mastered the included patterns, they’ll be ready to build their own creations. And if your kid loves making DUPLO worlds, you can add other compatible pieces, like DUPLO Spider-Man, Toy Story or Mickey Mouse.
If your kid has progressed quickly in their building skills, you may want to start them on LEGO Technic.
Unlike LEGO or Mega Blocks, every PLUS PLUS piece is the same shape and size. They fit together from any direction and become objects in 2D or 3D. Builders can make a flower that sits flat on the tabletop. Or they can build upwards into a tall tower. The best part is the blocks’ flexibility. After the pieces interlock, they easily curve into cylinders. Their tiny size makes them incredibly portable too.
If your 4-year-old has enough toys for fine motor skills, try having them build with these waffle blocks. These require a full body experience. Your kid will be crawling, lifting, bending, turning, and possibly even climbing. While LEGO and PLUS PLUS allow for intricate tabletop castles, Little Tikes Waffle Blocks let little builders make life-sized forts. They work perfectly outdoors too.
MiO’s beautiful castle set combines building skills and make-believe. Kids first construct their castle however they’d like. Then they use the figurines to play house or fight imaginary dragons. The big castle allows multiple children to play together, but stows away compactly. MiO also makes accessories, like a catapult, available to purchase separately. The building combinations make this a limitless toy.
You may also be interested in this list of the 14 best dollhouses for kids.
This kit perfectly blends active play with fine motor skills. Preschoolers use the sticks and balls to build a child-sized house, rocket ship or fort. Connecting the pieces encourages finger strength. Planning out the structure requires imagination. And putting the whole thing together will get your kid up and moving. The plastic set works indoors or out. But wherever you go, be sure to bring a blanket!
Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds: Arts & Crafts
Playdoh is fun, but eventually dries out. Kinetic Sand never dries, but can make a big mess. Enter Mad Mattr! This stuff molds and stretches, never dries, and crumbles like Kinetic Sand. The company swears it cleans easily since Mad Mattr sticks to itself. The Ultimate Builders Pack includes green and blue compounds, as well as a cutting tool and block molds. Kids make their own bricks and then build structures. It’s creative, sensory play at its best.
Preschoolers love to do things independently. With an easel ready and waiting, they can draw or paint on their own. Kids have access to crayons, markers or colored pencils to make masterpieces on a whim. It also features a dry erase board, and you can easily clip on different kinds of paper for painting projects.
Need to keep your kid occupied in the car or the store? These super portable lacing cards entertain kids and help them develop fine motor skills. They’ll feel creative as they sew up animals and vehicles. But they’ll secretly be working on letter recognition and hand-eye coordination. Before long, you’ll find your child tying their own shoes and moving on to cross-stitch.
Kids love making art, and rainbow scratch paper provides a novel way to create masterpieces. The 50 sheets of black paper that’re included in this set hide rainbows underneath. When kids scratch the paper with one of the included styluses, their shapes reveal different colors. Little artists can draw their own ideas or use stencils to make colorful scenes. This set is a great introduction to scratch art and has enough materials for multiple kids to work together.
Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds: Make-Believe Toys
Having a tea party is a childhood rite of passage. Many tea parties are make-believe. But a food-safe tea set lets your kids have a real tea party too! Green Toys works hard to create non-toxic, eco-friendly products. These dishes are made entirely from recycled plastic. Earth-friendly, food-safe, child-sized, and 100% fun.
Plan Toys’ veterinarian kit will delight any young animal lover. It’s an eco-friendly take on the classic doctor kit. The set comes with cute x-rays of a cat and dog, plus a fabric cone for taking care of sick pups. Creative kiddos can use the medical tools to play doctor on humans and other toys too. Plan Toys makes beautiful and durable products and this one is no exception.
This child-sized canvas tent is high quality and easy to set up. But the real kicker is the inclusion of a pretend fire, marshmallows on sticks, and make-believe s’mores pieces. The tent also includes battery-powered twinkle lights. The portability lets kids have a beautiful campout anywhere in the house. And while it’s a great personal hideaway, the tent fits multiple kids. Preschoolers can share the s’mores and adventures with a friend.
Having a play kitchen is fun, but not useful without play food. Kids set up the grocery store and then go shopping with the basket for ingredients. The store includes a conveyer belt, a cash drawer and a credit card machine. 4-year-olds will love the true-to-life details and parents will love the toy’s high quality. To take it up a notch, you can easily add in Melissa & Doug’s shopping cart and grocery store companion set.
This set of three unisex costumes makes playtime easy. Kids dress up as a scientist, a gardener or an explorer. Along with the costumes, kids get accessories like a magnifying glass and garden tools. You’ll soon be finding your preschooler on a backyard bug hunt, or doing science experiments in the kitchen. And if you want to add more variety, the same company makes a similar set of first responder costumes.
Every rock star needs their own instrument, and Hape’s brightly-colored ukulele fits the bill. It makes a great prop, but also works as a real instrument. The ukulele stays in tune after the nylon strings stretch out and kids can strum along to classic tunes or original songs. It’s perfectly child-sized and as sturdy as any toy. Expect your ukulele to appear during playtime for years to come.
Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds: Electronic Toys
Your 4-year-old will love interacting with Brio’s Smart Tech system. This battery-powered train moves along classic wooden tracks. But when it travels through smart tunnels, it responds to hidden chips and reverses direction, makes sounds, or stops for passengers. Your little engineer decides what the track looks like and where the bridges and tunnels go. When they place the pieces, they’ll get instant feedback about cause-and-effect.
This amazing toy seamlessly pairs a real world, touchable globe with a learning app. When kids scan the globe with their smart device, they’ll see 3D animals and buildings. They’ll learn facts about the environment, countries and cities while earning coins and stamping their paper passport. The app is constantly updated with real world information and the globe doesn’t have borders drawn on. No need for parents to worry about outdated information.
VTech’s multi-function watch will fascinate preschoolers who want Mom or Dad’s Apple watch. It comes with digital and analog clock faces to help kids learn to tell time. It also has a variety of games, including the augmented reality Monster Catcher. Many games connect to the pedometer and encourage physical activity. Kids will love using the camera to take videos and selfies.
Osmo programs allow your child to physically interact with an app. It’s next-level screen time! Kids use the silicone pieces to dress characters in costume or build the ABCs. The silicone pieces appear on-screen, and characters react to your child’s actions. This set is made specifically for iPad, but there’s a Kindle Fire version as well.
Learning Resources’ adorable STEM toy introduces preschoolers to coding without using screens. Scamper the cat is a battery-powered, programmable pet. Kids input a sequence of instructions using the buttons on her back, and that tells Scamper where and how to move. There’s an interactive storybook with coding challenges. And when kids finish programming Scamper, they simply hang out together in play mode. Scamper dances and sings and plays with her toys.
These walkie-talkies explode with cuteness and versatility. Parents and kids can communicate, as well as siblings or friends. The walkies operate while hand-held, worn as watches, or kept around the neck. The hands-free option works for kids who haven’t mastered the push-to-talk buttons. But the rechargeable batteries make this walkie-talkie set stand above the rest.
Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds: Under $15*
*Prices accurate as of 12 October 2020
Any kiddo with energy needs their own personal hopper ball. It’s another way to get around without pedals and can be used by kids of different ages. Some kids bounce around the neighborhood while others hop down hallways. Hopper balls are an excellent way for kids to have fun burning off energy during cold months.
Dry-erase worksheets on a toy list? We promise this isn’t an attempt to disguise homework. 4-year-olds love tracing shapes, learning to write and problem-solve. They practice numbers and following lines with these connect-the-dot and maze activities. Best of all, kids won’t be wasting paper. They clean up when they’re done by wiping the sheets clean before using them again and again.
This Disney-themed take on I Spy is easy enough for 4-year-olds and still fun for adults. Players take turns finding specific objects on their cards, which feature scenes from Winnie the Pooh, Toy Story and Frozen. It’s great for preschool attention spans since the game ends fairly quickly. And the deck of cards is super portable for games on-the-go.
Creative patterns make this an art activity. Shape construction makes it a building activity. And the way it gets played with feels like a board game. Kids follow included instructions to create animals, flowers and vehicles. When they obtain a sense of mastery, they’re able to build their own shapes and patterns. It’s also a great creative project for math-minded kiddos.
Whether you need a movement game or a quiet activity, you’ll find something on this list. And, sure, you could get away with a Paw Patrol action figure. But isn’t it more fun to find a toy that will last for years? The products on our list encourage open-ended play, which promotes independence and leads to learning. We guarantee these toys are age-appropriate, ridiculously fun, and will make you the best gift-giver around.