Best Gifts for 4-Year-Olds, According to Child Development Experts


Four is a huge milestone year for children, because its when many four year olds start preschool. But kids this age are very picky and suddenly have rather vocal opinions, which is why youll need a little help picking out the righttoys and gifts for four year olds.

The experts at theNational Association for the Education of Young Children have a few great tips for choosing equally great gifts for four year olds. Keep in mind that kids this age have longer attention spans than toddlers; they ask a lot of questions and like to experiment with toys. And they now get the hang of playing with friends. Shockingly, they even know how to share. And these are the broad toy categories that apply to this age group.

  • Blocks that snap together and building blocks.
  • Construction and transportation toys.
  • Child-sized real toys like play food sets.
  • Dress-up toys for pretend play.
  • Creative toys, like paints and chalk.
  • Ride-on toys.

By age four, your child gets more and more creative with make-believe play. According to the CDC, he cooperates with other kids, and will articulate what he likes and cares about. Playdates become your new normal. Shell sing a song or poem from memory and can tell stories from favorite books. And of course, she knows her first and last name. Your kiddo will name some colors and numbers, begin grasping the concept of time, draw an actual human with up to four body parts, and will play board games. And when you go to the park or playground, hell catch a ball and hop around.

Best Gifts For 4 Year Olds

One of the most perfect toys we've seen: Kids use these wooden magnetic blocks to dream up entire cities.

Kids use the magnetic blocks to build up a fire station they can take down and rebuild over and over and over again.

Kids build and decorate their own birdhouse.

Not only is this creativity in action, but this birdhouse lets kids hone their motor skills as they paint and decorate their own mansion for theirfowl friends.

A gorgeous play pram like this one encourages kids to act out real-world scenarios, like pushing their stuffed animals to the park.

Any four year old would go bananas over this wooden pram, filling it up with dolls and animals and other toys as they reenact real-world behaviors they see their parents doing.

By age four, kids recognize body parts. This set lets them create animals, faces, cars, flowers, and buildings.

This magnetic set is mess-free, and it lets four year olds use magnets to create whatever they want. From flowers to skyscrapers to dogs to mom and dad, the proverbial skys the limit. They can follow the enclosed puzzle cards, or freestyle. And when done, the magnets are stored in the wood carrying case.

Kids get insanely creative with Magna-Tiles, and this new set has 15 colorful, shiny and glittery shapes including four mirrored squares, seven glitter squares and four equilateral triangles.

Kids can use these magnetic blocks to create and build complex structures, which helps with critical thinking and pretend play.

One of the coolest toys we saw at Toy Fair, this intro engineering kit lets kids build motorized robotic animals, including a unicorn, sea otter, a crab, and a llama.

This toy is a stellar intro to STEM learning, teaching kids simple engineering and robotics concepts as they create critters including, yes, a narwhal.

Budding equestrians will be into this beautiful, hand-painted stable and house by Schleich, which opens up a whole universe of pretend play.

Another standout at Toy Fair, this house and stable movable stairs, a foldable table, tillable sunshade, moveable doors, and the horses can be rinsed off with the hose.

Ugly toys that harmonize: Find us a kid who won't be into these singing monsters.

All three monsters have movable part, yes. But the best part is, they either sing solo, or all together now.

Speaking of crafting, this kit lets kids make their very own fox stuffie with clothes and accessories to mix and match.

This kit is easy enough for young kids to use, and teaches about following directions and the rewards of mastering such skills as basic stitching.

This Calico Critters starter set includes a red-roofed two-story house, Hopscotch Rabbit Girl, and furniture items and accessories that appeal to the four year old imagination.

Kids develop and create entire worlds, helping encourage hours upon hours of imaginary and open-ended play. And this attaches to other Calico Critters houses to build one very cute world.

Surprise toys seriously never get boring. These Cutetitos come in 12 possible collectible styles including a variety of puppitos, catitos, slothitos, pigitos, bunnitos, bearitos and monkitos.

These plush collectibles let kids build an entire animal kingdom, and practice caring for the critters. They come wrapped in a burrito blanket. Which is somewhat dubious. But still.

Lego grabs all the glory, but Playmobil toys are just as detailed and fun. This set lets kids plow through snow and ice with the snow plow. It has a rotating crane, too.

Just in time for winter, this setincludes one figure, snow plow with crane, plow blade, roller, tools, thermos, radio, and other accessories kids will need to deal with the ravages of a blizzard.

This 100-piece domino playset encourages childrens spatial thinking abilities and color recognition, and fosters a basic understanding of physics.

What goes up must come down. Kids learn that, and more, with this deceptively simple yet utterly cool domino set.It includes a bridge, a bell and assorted tricks that add extra drama to the domino racing game.

Your four year old will go bananas for Juno the robotic elephant, who loves kids, her peanut, plays games, and makes kissing sounds.

Juno takes the robot toys to the next level. Not only is she exceptionally well-made but she has 150 sounds and movements in her repertoire. And shes perfectly sized for kids hands.

It's like slime, without the mess. This non-sticky stuff never dries out, and is great for hands-on sculpting.

Perfect for preschoolers, the play foam lets themshape it however they want, over and over and over again. Not only does it foster creativity, but it goes in the dark.

Barbie lovers can have their down luxury doghouse, complete with a slide, a swing, and a working elevator to get pets from the first to second floor.

Not only do kids get the doghouse of their dreams, but they also get two puppies ,one food dispenser with two bones, one Frisbee, one hydrant, one pet convertible, and one pool.

Green Toys are made from recycled plastic and encourage pure, open-ended imaginative play.

Kids load and unload the cars from the carrier, helping home their fine motor skills, and appreciation for big sets of wheels.

One of our most beloved toy brands ups the ante yet again with this STEM game, meant for kids four and older.

Kids learn problem solving and spatial reasoning with this marble run, which is made up of 147 pieces. With this run, you get straight and curved rails, high-velocity funnels, red double-sided rocker, accelerators, blocks, levelers, bases and 50 marbles. Literally, theres no room for boredom.

This pancake-balancing game helps kids get a handle on coordination, critical thinking, and counting. Also, it's hella fun.

Kids play this pancake stacking game by turning over a card and finding the first pancake. They put pancakes on spatulas and race to stack said pancakes in a relay-like race. Sounds complicated. Its not.

A fantastic toy for your four year old, this Crayola set lets kids kids decorate their white pets with an assortment of colorful markers. And they can do this over and over again, by wetting their pets, washing off the colors, and doing it again.

Its portable. Its easy to clean up. And it unleashes kids imaginations, as they create their own creatures. Plus, its solid pretend play, since kids are also vets tending to their animals.

Ah, the mythical appeal of the unicorn. This one lets kids choose from seven charms in the heart-shaped dish and place them on the three hearts to hear colors, objects and phrases said in English and Spanish.

But theres more! The unicornshorn lights up in a rainbow of colors and when kids the blue heart button to hear quiz questions, they place the charms on the unicorn to answer them.

Yes, it's messy. But kinetic sand is a wonderful sensory toy that also encourages limitless creativity. Just use a baking sheet to contain it.

Kinetic sand feels like wet beach sand, but is made with natural sand that never dries out. Kids can build sandcastles galore, plus entire magical kingdoms. And its a great sensory tool, too. This kit comes with molds and tools to create walls, bridges and towers.

Toy Story 4 is a major thing. And so this is puzzle, ideal for kids four and up. Every piece in this puzzle is unique, meaning reduced confusion and frustration.

This 35-piece jigsaw puzzle is made of entirely unique pieces, and helps Toy Story 4 fans (and anyone else) develop concentration skills and problem-solving skills.

Kids this age are really into dressing up. As just about anything So get them started with this detailed and well-made chef's costume.

Your kid can dress up as a police officer, a firefighter, or a veterinarian. But this costume in particular includes a chefs jacket, hat, oven mitt, three wooden utensils, plastic measuring spoons, and nametag for pencil personalization.

Give your pretend chef his or her own kitchen. This kitchen play set features an electronic stovetop burner with realistic cooking sounds and flashing lights, plus it has its own built-in coffee station.

As parents, we cant resist anything that includes coffee, the elixir of survival. This toy kitchen has a built-in coffee station, comes with 21 cooking accessories, features an oversized refrigerator and large oven that double as storage space, and even has a hangout for pets. Apparently, health codes dont apply in pretend cooking land.

As long as you keep it to nine letters or less, your child gets his or her own personalized name puzzle, to help with alphabet and letter recognition.

Yes, this looks cool. But the name puzzle also makes your kid feel special, and boosts fine motor skills and letter recognition because the child has to fit the correct letter into its corresponding slot.

Unleash his or her inner artist with this high-quality, durable easel, perfect for budding creatives.

Four year olds love to draw, so heres an easy way to help them do it. This set also includes a dry-erase board, chalkboard, a locking paper roll holder, a child-safe paper cutter, four easy-clip grips and two plastic trays for markers, chalk and other supplies.

This is imaginary play at its best, thanks to 37-piece spaceship set with four different levels of operations.

Yes, this spaceship play set has the right stuff, indeed. It transforms kids into Neil Armstrong or Sally Ride. Its a four-storyspaceship that mimics actual space shuttles with specific areas for mission control, an on-board laboratory, a living compartment and even a gym, plus a working elevator.

Yes, they do get underfoot, but these Zoob builders include gears, axels and joints that snap, click, and pop together, so you can build actual toys that you can actually play with.

These Zoobs helps kids develop hand-eye coordination, and unleash their imagination because they can create whatever they want. Theyre meant for slightly older kids, but we think its never too early to start.

By age four, kids can throw balls over their heads. Help them build their skills by tossing beanbags through openings in this fun game.

This game is double-sided, works indoors and outside, and includes eight beanbags, plus two play options.

This popular game, for 2-8 players, helps kids develop focus, visual perception skills, speech-language skills, and fine-motor skills.

By age four, kids love board games and can follow along. While this isnt exactly a board game, we promise, your child wont be bored when he or she competes to spot symbols.

This activity set includes buttons, dough, crayons, doilies, flowers, feathers, eyes, bags, pipe cleaners, frames, boards, stickers, paper, tissue, and a glue stick.

No more rainy day blues, with this glorious activity set. By age four, kids can draw and even use scissors, to keep em busy with this fun set.

No, they're not fancy. And no, they're not tricked-out. But this classic toys lets kids build whatever they want.

With 327 pieces, your kid can create an entire universe from his or her imagination.

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