A round up of gifts for four-year-olds.
Credit: Fat Brain Toys, Amazon
Gift Edit 2023

21 Gifts That 4-Year-Olds Will Totally Love, According to Parents Who Know

updated Nov 2, 2023
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This feature is part of Cubby's Gift Edit, our editor-curated collection of gift ideas. 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 gift lists for one-year-olds, two-year-olds, and three-year-olds, this guide features picks from editors, experts, and most importantly 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.

Quick Overview

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 / 10

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 / 10
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 / 10

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 / 10

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 / 10

I know a few four-year-olds who are smitten with these cat-topped gel crayons. They have just the right amount of whimsy to delight young kids, while also being fantastic art supplies. If you add a little water to the paper when you use these gel crayons, you can create watercolor effects!

6 / 10
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 a 2nd volume about our planet. They're charming and funny and full of kid-friendly facts.

7 / 10

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.

8 / 10
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."

9 / 10

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)."

10 / 10

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

These water-based nail polishes with their accompanying nail stickers are perfect for 4-year-olds who want to be a little fancy and sparkly. The nail polish washes off with soap and water!

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

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

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!

4 / 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!

5 / 5

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. We wrote all about why we love it here