As a parent, paying attention to your children’s play and considering their developmental needs is crucial. For a youngster of this age, toys that promote problem-solving, learning, and creativity can be great—and they even might help your child advance to the following developmental stage.
Everyone wants to know what are the best toys for four-year-olds. Many studies have been done on this subject, which always leads to more questions. The four-year-old mind isn’t entirely understood, making it difficult to find answers to the critical question: What are the Best Toys for Four-Year-Olds?
Building toys are among the most well-liked choices if you’re seeking the most excellent toys for 4-year-olds. These toys are fantastic since they promote creativity and provide various game options.
The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University researches the role of play and toys in promoting children’s healthy development. Their research shows that play helps build robust brain architecture and supports lifelong learning.
Shape sorters and puzzles encourage problem-solving abilities by forcing children to put the pieces together correctly. In contrast, blocks and magnetic sets encourage inventiveness by letting children construct whatever they want.
Dr. Jenny Radesky: “Children this age still love imaginative play, and toys that allow them to create their worlds can be very engaging. Building toys, like blocks or magnetic sets, encourage problem-solving and spatial reasoning.”
Puppets, action figures, and board games are popular among children in this age bracket. Don’t feel like you have to stock up on just one type of toy; a well-rounded collection should comprise various toys at this age. Variety is the flavor of life, after all!
The Child Mind Institute provides resources and guidance on using toys to support children’s mental health and well-being. Their research shows that play can be an effective tool for reducing stress and anxiety in young children.
For children of this age, building sets, arts and crafts supplies, and anything else with many open-ended play possibilities is excellent gifts. Let your child produce anything they want without exerting too much control; if you do, it can prevent them from coming up with fresh ideas independently.
Dr. Dipesh Navsaria: “Kids this age need many opportunities to engage in imaginative play, exploration, and discovery. Look for toys encouraging creativity, like building sets or arts and crafts kits, allowing them to practice their fine motor skills.”
Instead of taking charge, let them set the tempo of the play; you can always intervene later if you feel things are losing their fun or direction. Most importantly, allow them lots of time to play with the toy independently. Children should have time to explore and learn at this vital stage of development alone.
Dr. Alison Mitzner: “Outdoor play is crucial for this age group, as it helps children develop their gross motor skills and gets them moving. Ride-on toys, like balance bikes or scooters, can be a great way to encourage physical activity and balance skills.”
Toy vehicles are safer than tricycles and training wheels because they don’t require balancing on two wheels and offer more protection from the ground, even though some parents may be wary about their 4-year-olds riding on them. They are made to foster a sense of autonomy in children while offering a safety net through adult monitoring.
If you’re worried about your child falling off the bike and hitting his head, a scooter with training wheels is another choice for outside entertainment. Other outdoor toys are sandboxes and accessories that promote creativity, like paintbrushes, chalk, building blocks, and dress-up outfits.
Look for puzzles with more significant pieces and vibrant designs to interest kids. Puzzle games that foster problem-solving in a playful way and aid in the development of fine motor abilities are also available to parents.
Dr. Pamela High: “Puzzles can be a great way to develop problem-solving skills and improve hand-eye coordination. Look for puzzles with larger pieces and colorful designs to keep kids engaged.” (Source: American Academy of Pediatrics)
The beautiful thing about puzzle toys is that they come in different price ranges, so whether you want to spend $10 or $100, many possibilities are accessible.
The NCFR provides resources and guidance on using toys to promote positive family relationships and child development. Their research shows that play can help strengthen family bonds and promote healthy child-parent relationships.
Dr. Ari Brown: “At this age, children are developing their language skills and love to engage in pretend play. Dolls and stuffed animals can be great companions and help them practice their social and emotional skills.”
The SRCD is a professional organization dedicated to advancing research on child development. Their journal, Child Development, publishes articles on the role of play and toys in promoting children’s learning and development.
Below are The 10 best toys and gifts for 4-year-olds
|Toy/Gift||Price||Age/Grade||Why We Recommend||Features||Pros||Cons||Expert Recommendations|
|LEGO Duplo||$49.99||4-5 years||Develops fine motor skills, creativity, and problem-solving||Large, colorful bricks that are easy for small hands to handle||Encourages imaginative play and social skills||Expensive compared to other building toys||American Academy of Pediatrics|
|Crayola Ultimate||$16.99||4-8 years||Encourages creativity and artistic expression||Comes with 152 crayons, markers, and colored pencils||Portable carrying case makes it easy to take on-the-go||Some colors may be repetitive||Parents Magazine|
|Micro Kickboard||$90||3-5 years||Promotes gross motor skills, balance, and coordination||Three wheels and a low-to-the-ground deck for stability||Easy to steer and maneuver||Expensive compared to other scooters||Good Housekeeping Institute|
|Play-Doh Set||$16.99||3-6 years||Develops fine motor skills, creativity, and sensory exploration||Comes with various molds, cutters, and accessories||Non-toxic and easy to clean up||Can dry out quickly if left out||Good Housekeeping Institute|
|Tegu Blocks||$40.00||4-8 years||Promotes creativity, problem-solving, and spatial reasoning||Wooden blocks with magnets that can be arranged in any order||Made from sustainable materials||Expensive compared to other block sets||Dr. Tovah Klein|
|Osmo Genius Kit||$76||5-12 years||Promotes learning and problem-solving through digital play||Includes a base, reflector, and five game apps||Encourages creativity and critical thinking||Requires an iPad or Fire tablet to use||Common Sense Media|
|Green Toys Tea||$24.99||2-6 years||Encourages imaginative play and social skills||Made from 100% recycled plastic||Non-toxic and easy to clean||May not be as engaging for all kids||Parents Magazine|
|PlasmaCar||$89.99||3-8 years||Promotes gross motor skills and balance||Moves forward with a simple twist of the steering wheel||No batteries or pedals required||Limited to smooth surfaces||Dr. Laura Jana|
|Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Stamp and Coloring Set||$39.99||4-6 years||Encourages imaginative play and social skills||Includes various costumes and accessories||Encourages role-playing and storytelling||May not fit all children’s sizes||Parents Magazine|
|Magformers||$49.99||3-8 years||Promotes creativity, problem-solving, and spatial reasoning||Magnetic pieces that can be arranged in different shapes||Durable and easy to clean||Expensive compared to other magnetic building toys||Dr. Laura Jana|
1. LEGO Duplo
Lego Duplo bricks create an environment where children can experiment and explore their world. The open-ended play encourages kids to build, create and imagine.
This set offers 85 colorful bricks, including fun elements like windows and number plates. It’s a great way to simultaneously fuel your child’s imagination and play skills.
The Lego Duplo Creative Play All-in-One-Box has a modern design that inspires parents and carers to share toddlers’ precious developmental milestones as they work together to build, create and imagine.
Dr. Roberta Golinkoff: “Toys that encourage open-ended play and experimentation, like blocks, sand, and water play sets, are great for this age group. They help children develop their creativity, problem-solving skills, and scientific thinking.”
My nephew has been playing with it for hours, constructing various scenes and settings where his Duplo characters can play out their adventures. He’s still only four years old, but he’s already starting to play with his toys in more complex ways—which is exactly what this toy is made for!
2. Crayola Ultimate
Choosing the best toy and gift for a four-year-old is a puzzle. Should you get whatever they want, or find something you’re sure they’ll love? What if they don’t like it? It’s hard to please a child at this age without breaking the bank.
The Crayola Ultimate Crayon Collection is a good option for parents and their four-year-old kids. This set includes 152 unique crayons housed in a fun Crayon Storage Caddy.
The caddy is excellent for traveling or transporting art supplies to and from school or daycare. It also has room to hold four crayon boxes, allowing up to four kids to choose their colors. This makes it fun for group projects and collaboration on art projects together.
Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg: “Music can be a powerful tool for development and learning. Look for age-appropriate instruments, like xylophones or drums, or toys that play Music and encourage singing and dancing.”
Dr. Laura Jana: “Children are starting to develop their independence and sense of self at this age. Toys encouraging self-expression, like art supplies or simple instruments, can help them explore their interests and talents.”
Children this age need to have access to many different types of toys, as well as a variety of ways to play with them—pretend play, art projects, and educational purposes—and this is a great toy that lets kids do all of those things!
3. Micro Kickboard
The Micro Mini 3-wheel kickboard, for children age 2 and older, is a great toy and gift for 4 year olds.
The Mini is offered in different colors, including blue, pink, white and red.
The board is lightweight and strong (it can hold up to 110 pounds), plus it’s adjustable—the handlebar can be raised as the child grows from ages 2 to 5. It’s essential for teaching the younger crowd balance and coordination, and it can also help with their sense of direction.
And it’s easy to use: little ones just lean on the handlebar slightly to steer.
Dr. Brenda Nixon: “Physical activity is important for this age group, as it helps develop their coordination, strength, and confidence. Look for toys encouraging movement and exercise, like balls, jump ropes, and balance boards.”
4. Play-Doh set
With kids, sometimes the simplest toys are the ones that get the most use—case in point: Play-Doh. An oldie but goodie, Play-Doh play lets kids take the lid off their imaginations and explore their creativity. It’s a toy that inspires kids to make up stories, tell jokes and create imaginary worlds.
An excellent addition to any Play-Doh set is a can of Play-Doh modeling compound. The portable cans can be used anywhere, so your child will always have a modeling compound ready for spontaneous, imaginative sessions. Can packs and basic tool sets offer more than just the colored compound—they come with various tools to add a creative touch to your child’s creations, from cookie cutters and ice cream scoops to spoons, spatulas, and more.
5. Tegu Blocks
Tegu blocks are woodblocks designed to be the best toy ever. They’re naturally water resistant and finished with a water-based lacquer that’s non-toxic and safe for kids.
Tegus come in various shapes: squares, rectangles, triangles, hexagons, octagons, prisms, pyramids, and more. There’s even a set precisely for making 3-D geometric shapes. The blocks can stack on each other in different ways to create different structures, and building amazing things like towers up to 8 feet tall is possible! But there’s also an infinite amount of things you can do without stacking them—it’s not required! You can use your imagination and build whatever you want using one or many Tegus—the only limit is your child’s imagination.
The best thing about this toy is that it promotes open-ended play. If you give a 4-year-old a Tegu set, they will immediately start building something (which is the first step in learning spatial reasoning).
6. Osmo Genius Kit
Osmo Genius Kit is a toy that can be used by kids aged 4-10 to learn a variety of subjects and make use of their natural inclination towards play. The kit has five games: Tangram, Newton, Masterpiece, Words, and Numbers. Each game uses physical objects – colored tiles in Tangram and the motion sensor in Newton – to interact with what’s on screen. With this interaction, children can play games and learn valuable skills like spelling, math, problem-solving, and more.
Dr. Rebecca Parlakian: “Kids this age love to learn and explore, so toys that encourage hands-on experimentation and discovery can be very engaging. Look for science kits, building sets, and puzzles that challenge their thinking and problem-solving skills.”
Tangram – Players arrange over 100+ puzzle designs/pieces to match on-screen shapes (Tangram)
Newton – Solve creative physics puzzles by drawing lines or placing items in front of the screen (Newton)
Masterpiece – Learn to draw anything with creative drawing skills (Masterpiece)
Words: Add, count, subtract & multiply tiles to pop the number bubbles solve math equations (Numbers), and learn spelling & vocabulary with on-screen images & skill level selection (Words).
QuillPen: Write messages or draw pictures on actual paper with Qwerkity’s innovative interactive pen.
7. Green Toys Tea Set
The Green Toys Tea Set is an excellent gift for kids four and up, but children can enjoy it as young as one. The pieces are made of recycled milk jug plastic and are free of BPA, phthalates, PVC, and lead. The set includes four cups, four saucers, and four spoons. It’s dishwasher-safe and easy to clean.
The Green Toys Tea Set is a great toy for imaginative play—the manufacturer says it is “perfect for role-play fun with dolls or stuffed animals.” This 4+ toy encourages communication skills through creative play—it is small enough for a child to carry around the house or on trips; big enough to serve multiple purposes; durable sufficiently that children won’t break it quickly; and will last a long time.
This toy also promotes gross and fine motor skills, which makes it helpful for children with developmental delays or low muscle tone (like my son). It enables them to strengthen muscles in the hands, fingers, legs, shoulders, arms, and trunk while they play. Children can use their imagination while they pretend to have tea parties with friends or family members.
The Original PlasmaCar uses a different technology to turn your child’s natural energy into fun and exercise. The PlasmaCar doesn’t rely on batteries, gears, pedals, or buttons. Instead, it uses the electromagnetic properties of plasma—which is present in lightning—to convert rotational motion into linear motion.
The car can reach speeds up to 6 miles per hour without your help while also teaching your child balance and steering control so that they can take their first steps toward becoming an independent vehicle operator.
When you push the PlasmaCar forward, the wheels spin freely in both directions. It goes up hills and down them, cruises across flat surfaces, and can even be ridden sideways. And when your child gets tired of moving around on their power, they can always let go of the handles and coast down a hill–no need to worry about a crash landing!
9. Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Stamp and Coloring Set
The best toy and gift for a 4-year-old is a Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Stamp and Coloring Set. This toy is suitable for any child but perfect for boys and girls interested in princesses and fairy tales.
This toy is perfect for telling stories, creating art projects, and cards, decorating notebooks, and more. The set comes with 30 magical wooden-handled rubber fairy tale stamps (ballet, mermaid, fairy, and princess), two 2-color washable ink pads (pink, purple, blue, green), and six colorful markers.
Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek: “Children this age are developing their language and social skills, so toys that encourage pretend play and storytelling can be very beneficial. Look for dolls, puppets, and dress-up costumes that allow children to act out different roles and scenarios.”
Anyone from a preschooler to an adult can have fun with this toy because there are so many things you can do with it: use the stamps to create unique designs or make beautiful cards for birthdays or holidays; use the colored markers to draw your creations; color in the large coloring book that comes with this set; or even color in other coloring books.
The Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Stamp and Coloring Set is high quality. No small pieces can be swallowed by young children or hidden within the clothing that could cause choking hazards. The rounded edges are also very safe.
10. Magformers magnetic building blocks STEM toy
Regarding gifts that spark a child’s imagination and encourage them to foster their powers of creativity, few things can beat a set of magnetic building blocks. They’re fun and engaging, they promote motor skills and hand-eye coordination, and they can help foster STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, and math).
Dr. Deborah Gilboa: “Kids this age love to experiment and explore, and science kits can be a great way to foster that curiosity. Look for kits that include simple experiments and materials for hands-on learning.”
There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to magnetic building toys—some of which contain magnets that just aren’t strong enough to hold the pieces together. Others are frustratingly difficult for kids to use on their own.
The best choice is the Magformers Classic Set, which features the right combination of power in its magnets, ease of use (even for young kids), and the most pieces needed to build one of the classic geometric shapes: the magic ball. It even comes in a convenient travel case!
Resources for research papers and institutions on why toys are beneficial for children:
- The Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC): The ECLKC provides resources and guidance on using toys to support children’s learning and development, emphasizing promoting school readiness.
- The National Head Start Association: The NHSA guides on selecting toys that promote children’s learning and development in the context of Head Start programs.
- The National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families: The NCITF provides resources and guidance on using toys to promote children’s social-emotional development. Their research shows that play can help children develop social skills and emotional intelligence.
- The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: The ASHA guides on selecting toys that promote children’s communication development. Their research shows that play can help children develop language and communication skills.
- The National Association for Gifted Children: The NAGC provides resources and guidance on using toys to support the development of gifted children. Their research shows that play can help promote creativity and intellectual growth in talented children.
- The International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association: The IPEMA provides resources on the design and safety of play equipment and toys. Their research shows that well-designed play equipment and toys can promote children’s physical development and coordination. (source: