A round up of gifts for four-year-olds.
Credit: Fat Brain Toys, Amazon

The Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds

published Aug 25, 2022
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This feature is part of Cubby's Gift Edit, our editor-curated collection of gift ideas for every occasion. Need more inspiration? Check out all our guides here.

Being four is great – or at least, it sure seems that way! Four-year-olds can now run, jump, and leap with all the confidence of a gazelle. They are sponges for information, and can rattle off a surprising number of facts about things like ospreys or unicorns, if you give them the chance. Their brains are firing on all cylinders as they work out how to build a dragon’s cave out of a pile of blocks or paint a picture of a sea turtle.

Like our best toys lists for one-year-olds, two-year-olds, and three-year-olds, this guide features toy picks from editors, experts, and fellow parents of four-year-olds, including some toys that their (now older) kids still play with. While we always share toy ideas at a range of price points, for this guide most come in under $20!

What to Look For in Toys for 4-Year-Olds

Open-ended toys that encourage creativity, curiosity, independence, and exploration are a solid bet for the four-year-old set. Also, art supplies. Multiple parents we talked to confirmed this: “My son loves any type of art project so boxes of markers, chalk, stacks of construction paper, kids scissors, stick glue. All of that stuff has been great,” said a fellow AT parent. “[My daughter] will paint anything/everything.  Rocks, ceramic, blocks, etc,” said another.

Our Top Pick

Activity boxes from KiwiCo are some of the best, most high-quality yet still affordable gifts for four-year-olds. The company’s Baking and Fractions box and Farmers Market box teach important skills and are super fun to play with.

Toys Under $20

1 / 11

This wonderful matching game from eeBoo helps sharpen budding concentration, memory, and recognition skills. The diverse group of faces is also a welcome update to your standard memory game themes.

2 / 11
Fat Brain Toys

Hey Clay always nails it. Their clay sets provide interactive 3D step-by-step instructions to teach kids how to mold things —animals, in this case —by doing it one shape at a time. The clay itself is non-sticky, nontoxic, stain-free, and soft and pliable.

3 / 11

Here's the gist of Scribble Scrubbie Pets: using washable markers, draw and decorate them to your heart's content, then ... give them a bath! Scrub them clean and start all over again. It's the exact kind of whimsy-with-a-dash-of-do-it-my-way that four-year-olds go crazy for.

4 / 11

Play-Doh isn't really Play-Doh until you have an extruder machine that transforms those hunks of dough into swirls, squirls, and other shapes.

5 / 11
Kid Made Modern

Forget that little six-color watercolor pan; this 30-color watercolor set is the real deal. It comes with paint brushes and watercolor paper, too, so there is plenty of material to work with.

6 / 11
was $18.99

This book about the sun is part of the Our Universe series, which also includes books about the earth, moon, Mars, the ocean, and our planet. They're charming and funny and full of kid-friendly facts.

7 / 11
The Tot
was $29.00

These pocket crayons shaped like Legos come as a set of 32 and can be assembled like a puzzle in the box - an added challenge for your four-year-old to figure out!

8 / 11

This 70-piece puzzle is a great way to start learning American geography with your four-year-old! Mudpuppy puzzles are very high-quality: thick, sturdy, able to stand up to lots of hands pushing them into place.

9 / 11
was $16.97

This is a blast from the past, but also, according to one AT parent, a HUGE hit with her four-year-old: "[Lite-Brite] is super cheap, and my daughter has had hours of use from it. I would not have suspected such a simple toy would be interesting for so long, but it's been her favorite 'winding down' activity after lights out for 5 years (since she was 4). She plays the most complicated games with it I can't even comprehend much less explain."

10 / 11

Yes to paint sticks, always and forever. "My 7 year old still enjoys them, but she first got them at age 3 or 4 and wore them out from use," says a fellow AT parent. "Just be sure to have plenty of paper on hand because our home turned into an abstract art factory once she really got going (not a complaint, mind you)."

11 / 11

They're telling stories anyway, and this way they can get them all down on paper, which will make them feel great and give you a keepsake memento in the process.

Toys $20 – $40

1 / 6

This talking microscope (yes!) comes with 60 full color images of plants and animals and two play modes (Fact Mode and Quiz Mode). It's the perfect gift for a kid who's curious about, well, everything in the natural world.

2 / 6
Fat Brain Toys

Musical instruments are a wonderful gift at any age, and this polka dot ukulele is a good introduction to stringed instruments. It's sized just right for preschoolers, and paired with a ukulele chord book for kids, will help get them started on some simple songs on the ukulele!

3 / 6
was $44.99

Their very own camera? Are you kidding?! That's what I imagine all four-year-olds say when they get this gift, which puts the power of photography right into their hands - with lots of photo and voice effects, of course.

4 / 6
The Tot

This space-themed playmat comes with a flying saucer (complete with green alien pilot!), a space shuttle, and a three-part rocket. It's all-in-one space playspace!

5 / 6

Kiwi Crates continue to top the list of parent-approved, kid-favorite toys, especially this baking set, which in addition to including a high-quality wood baking set, teaches beginner fractions!

6 / 6
Little Passports

Little Passports knows what kids love. Each monthly Animals Wild subscription box comes with pop-up playsets, games, mazes, and other activites that teach kids about animals and their habitats.

Toys $40+

1 / 5
The Tot

We love this high-quality beechwood construction set made in Austria. It comes with pliers and hammers that lets your kid practice fine motor skills and dexterity. Definitely a toy that can more or less complex depending on what you do with it!

2 / 5
was $59.99

A sweet sleeping bag that goes right on their back, great for their first sleepover or just for the cozy fort you all built in the living room.

3 / 5

A space-saving way to set the stage for a play! This doorway theatre from HABA can be used for puppet shows, concerts, performances, speeches - whatever your four-year-old imagines!

4 / 5
was $139.00

Bounce, bounce, bounce! High-energy kids (and their grownups) will appreciate this sturdy fold-and-store indoor trampoline with a height adjustable handlebar, so they can get years of bouncy fun out of it.

5 / 5
The Tot

This modernist, multipurpose playhouse is a Bauhaus-inspired play space for design-loving parents and their kids. It's 100% waterproof and washable, which means your kids can draw right on it and it’ll wash off later. Set it up in the living room or keep it in the backyard, then bring on the blankets and fairy lights!

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