The Best Gifts for a 4-Year-Old
Enthusiastic and curious, preschoolers love to discover, explore and be active. We've rounded up the best gifts for your favorite four-year-olds.
Preschoolers, especially four-year-olds, are movers and shakers, learning to skip, advancing their climbing and running, and starting to catch balls. They're creative — telling stories and using pretend play to learn about the world around them. They're growing their independence: starting to dress themselves, brushing their own teeth and helping out with age-appropriate chores. These ready-to-play, always-learning kids need toys and activities that meet their developmental and fun needs.
We've created a list of gifts that fosters their growth, in addition to ensuring they have a complete blast in their fourth year.
Best STEM Gifts
Preschoolers are full of curiosity with "Why?" being the first word of almost every single sentence. STEM (Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering) almost always has an answer to that ever-present question. These toys get those curious minds thinking, solving problems and learning basic concepts at a young age.
My four-year-old nephew is obsessed with MAGNA-TILES, and we've just bought him this set to upgrade his designs. The neon-colored tiles include some new fun shapes, such as a spinner, windows and semi-circles, to elevate an existing set or to start their building journey.
This classic retro toy is still a hit decades later. The updated design has a bigger screen, more pegs and is much brighter so that your preschooler will delight in making creative art. Four different light shows — from blinking to pulsing – illuminate their designs in fun patterns.
Made for imagination and experimentation, this fun playset lets kids create a wiggly maze for nanos (little battery-operated figures that behave like bugs). After connecting the jelly-like walls and setting up the two merry-go-rounds, kids send the little bugs through to race and explore.
Best Gifts for Outside Play
Fresh air, exercise and exploring nature are just a few of the benefits of getting kids outside. Preschoolers are gaining more control over their bodies and motor skills, and these gifts will get them playing, biking and scooting all over the place.
Balance bikes help your little ones naturally develop their motor skills and learn how to ride a bike without the need for training wheels. This vintage-inspired bike with a charming wicker basket and bell has a height-adjustable seat and handlebars so that it grows with your child.
Best Gifts for Pretend Play
Play is so important for how children learn, explore their feelings and develop their imaginations. Give them the chance to make up their own stories and adventures, as well as help you with household chores with their own child-size tools.
Stock your general store with this oh-so-cute set of wooden food. Kids get to practice their "cutting" skills as they slice up bread, fruit and veggies. Each piece is made from solid hardwood, connects with hook-and-loop closure and is finished with non-toxic, water-based paint.
Best Gifts to Get Kids Moving
Kids learn and grow with active play and need lots of physical activity to keep their bodies and brains busy. Help entertain them (while also aiding their development) with these made-for-moving gifts.
Unlike single trampolines, this extra-large one accommodates two jumpers (with a combined weight limit of 180 pounds) to provide hours of active indoor play. Any parent that's tried to entertain a preschooler on cold or wet days will appreciate having a place where kiddos get their excess energy out. When not in use, fold down the handle and stow under a bed.
Swings have always been a big hit with my kids — no matter their age, and this Snuggle Swing is the perfect addition to a four-year-old's backyard. Made with water-resistant fabric that also stays cool in hot temperatures, the swing is designed to hug your child, creating comfort and security as he swings back and forth.
Indoors or out, this rubber bowling set is sure to be a strike. The included setup template shows kids how to lay the pins out, and then they get to practice for their future bowling league. The natural rubber construction is soft and durable for safe, long-lasting play.
Best Gifts for Getting Creative
Let those creative minds run wild with gifts that give them the opportunity to use color, chalk, markers, paint and even water to make art. Working on art projects also helps develop their fine motor skills as they master coloring in the lines of their drawings or holding a paintbrush to create a playful design.
This doodle mat was such a big hit when my kids were small for both them and me. I loved that it was mess-free — no crayons, markers or paint, just water. And they loved that I could give them absolute freedom to draw and create. Once they filled up the mat, we simply had to let it dry, and they would start all over again.
Bring out kids' colorful side with this playful kit, which has everything they need to paint their own creatures. A combination of bright and pastel paint colors allows kids to show off their artistic skills when they decorate the six sweet little resin ladybugs and dragonflies.