We’ve rounded up the best toys for 4 year olds that will not only encourage their development but will also be a lot of fun to play with.
At the age of four, most children begin to develop a stronger sense of self. You may notice that little ones of this age need more privacy or time to themselves to play without adult supervision or help.
The best toys for 4 year olds are designed so that they can be played with independently or with friends. The best birthday presents and top Christmas toys will also encourage imaginative and ‘open-ended’ play.
At the age of four your child may also be starting pre-school. They will have started to work out the link between letters and sounds and words and pictures – the foundation of learning to read and write. This big milestone changes the types of toys four years will engage with.
‘Early Years foundation skills like fine motor skills, balance and coordination will be vastly improved in a preschool setting’ notes Heather Welch, International Brand Manager for Edx Education. So the toys your children play with at home should reflect this.
Heather also suggests that the best toys for children of this age will help continue: ‘to teach children to share and communicate’. Plus, they will help your child practice, ‘quiet as well as active play’.
The best gifts and toys for 4 year olds
1. LEGO Classic Medium Creative Brick Box
You can’t go wrong with a box of LEGO as a toy like this is a true classic that will get played with again and again. Making it onto our list for best toys for 4 year olds, this set is a step up from Duplo, which they may have been used to playing with.
LEGO develops skills in constructions and engineering as well as encouraging creative and imaginative play. It’s great for fine motor skills too. A timeless toy that just doesn’t seem to age, LEGO is an educational toy that has been inspiring children for generations. Dig your old box of LEGO out of the attic to pass down to your kids or get them started with this epic set of coloured blocks that come in a handy storage box.
‘While there are a lot of LEGO sets that come with instructions on how to make certain scenes – be it an ice rink, a castle or a house – this set of LEGO lets kids use their own imagination to make something from scratch,’ says Joanna, mum to Caitlin. ‘I almost prefer this style of LEGO as it doesn’t spoonfeed kids, but lets them experiment and use their own imagination to create.’
2. Globber Junior Foldable Lights Kids Scooter
Age Suitability: 4 years + | Batteries required: NoA 3-wheel scooter with large wheels such as this design from Globber is great for under 5s. The large wheels gives them stability and makes it easy to scoot. And as they develop their scooting skills and become more confident they’ll learn to whizz along with ease.
With adjustable handlebars, the Globber scooter comes in a range of colours including purple, pink and blue. But the best feature of this scooter is the disco light-up wheels. Not only does it make scooting even more fun, but it makes it easy to spot your child on the road when its foggy, early morning or dusk. ‘I really like the way this scooter can be neatly folded after use as it makes it much easier to fit into the boot of the car,’ says mum Karleen.
3. Ryan’s World Sir Ryan Mystery Chest
Age Suitability: 4 years + | Batteries required: NoWe challenge you to take find a 4-year-old who isn’t mesmerised by the YouTube sensation that is Ryan of Ryan’s World. With his whacky experiments, cheeky smile and toy reveals in every episode, we can see why little boys and girls look up to Ryan and his fun-filled world of adventure.
This Mystery Chest makes for a breathtaking present as it comes filled with an array of Ryan’s World Toys. These include squishy figures of Gus, Ryan and the crew, a car, a build-a-Ryan figure and lots of small, little collectibles in the Ryan series. Once a child has gone through all the excitement of revealing what’s inside, they can stack it all up again and use it as a storage trunk to house all their Ryan’s World toys. They’ll have fun opening and closing it too.
4. LOL Colour Change Surprise Dolls
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: No |Price: £9.99Another surprise toy – as kids seem to love surprises – comes the hugely popular LOL range of toys and the Color Change Surprise. As one of the brand’s latest additions to its rapidly growing selection of dolls, it makes for a fun stocking filler or birthday gift.
This particular series brings you the choice of up to 7 unboxed surprises to collect. Each of the dolls changes colour when dipped in cold water, while the box also goes from pink to purple in water – adding an extra element of fun to the whole unravelling experience. ‘My daughters love to collect LOL dolls and the color changing element of these dolls makes them that much more enticing to play with,’ says Karleen, mum to Devon and Vivienne.
5. Tomy Jurassic World Pop Up T Rex
Age Suitability: 4 years + | Batteries required: No
If you’re ever had the pleasure of playing Pop Up Pirate, you’ll know exactly how this game plays out. Only instead of pirates, here you’re dealing with dinosaurs. The dinosaur is trying to escape his crate and the players have to take in turns to slide one of the coloured dinosaur bones into one of the slots around the crate. The player who places it in the wrong slot will find themselves surprised by the dinosaur and out of the game. Great fun!
‘I really enjoyed playing this game with my kids,’ says Joanna, mum to Caitlin. ‘It’s funny how much the pop up T Rex can surprise you – even after playing it 10 times!’
6. Tomy Motorised Megasketcher
Age Suitability: 4 years + | Batteries required: NoA classic toy that will never date – even in these tablet-crazed times – the Motorised Megasketcher is a kids favourite. Great for use in the car and on long journeys, it makes drawing and creative doodling a breeze. No pens or ink needed, this timeless toy will provide bags of fun every time they use it and experiment with new images.
There are four stamps included on board to spark kid’s imagination on what to draw – choose from a paw, star, house and a spiral, on top of the pen. No ink, batteries or paper needed, there is beauty in the simplicity of this gift. It’s great to have in the back of the car for long journeys too.
7. John Lewis Animals Of World Floor Jigsaw Puzzle
Age Suitability: 4 years + | Batteries required: NoA popular present and bestselling jigsaw, this puzzle is a fun way for kids to get to grips with the world map and recognise animals from different countries. Jigsaws in general are great for developing hand-eye coordination and problem-solving logic in children and parents love this puzzle as its educational as well as fun.
‘Sometimes I find that puzzles aimed at 4 year olds take very little time to put together and my child often feels a little unchallenged,’ says Emily, mum to Bethany and William. ‘This Animals of the World Floor jigsaw puzzle, however, is a little tricker to put together and engages my kids for longer.’
8. John Lewis & Partners Marble Run
Age Suitability: 4 years + | Batteries required: NoThis adaptable and expandable marble run track is great for encouraging turn taking and understanding cause and effect, as well as developing motor skills such as hand-to-eye coordination. Kids can configure it in various ways and race the marbles down the tubes, adding to it and extending it at a later date as they become more adventurous.
‘We always have fun when we get the marble track out,’ says Gemma, mum to Oliver and Sienna. ‘The kids love to see race their marbles down the track and see who’s comes out the end quicker. The kids have ended up collecting marbles too and never tire of using them to play with – both inside the house and out on the garden patio.’
9. Learning Resources Coding Critters Bopper
Age Suitability: 4 years + | Batteries required: YesThe Learning Resources Coding Critters Bopper introduces young children to early coding and STEM. It will make them think about problem-solving and help to understand cause and effect.
Young kids can learn coding concepts with cute bunny Coding Critters Bopper and the cheeky Hip & Hop. Children can code along with Bopper’s storybook adventure, taking part in coding challenges involving the fun pet play set.
‘What I like most about this toy set is the fact that it introduces kids to the idea of coding without a screen in site,’ says Karleen, mum to Devon and Vivienne.
10. Dessineo Learn to Paint Easel
Age Suitability: 4 years + | Batteries required: NoThis easel teaches children to paint in a fun and simple step-by-step way. By the age of 4 kids should be able to hold pencils and paint brushes easily, so this toy is a great way to encourage them to paint and use different mediums to create art.
‘The box includes quite a bit of kit to produce a decent amount of creative content,’ says Emily, mum to Bethany and William. ‘While you can simply get out a paint brush and paints and piece of paper, I like the way this kit includes templates and an easel, which helps to engage the kids more.’
11. Orchard Toys Match and Spell Game
Age Suitability: 4 years + | Batteries required: No | Price: £7.50This toy is great for letter recognition, phonetic word building and matching pictures to words. A best selling, first reading and spelling activity game where children take turns to find letters and spell words, this fun game has two levels of difficulty. You can choose from single-player or multiplayer activities.
‘I’m a big fan of the Orchard Toys range and I love how they manage to making learning fun,’ says Gemma, mum to Oliver and Sienna.
12. Melissa & Doug Dinosaur Stamp Set
Age Suitability: 4 years + | Batteries required: NoThis craft kit consists of 8 detailed dino stamps and 2 colour inkpads. Beautifully presented in a wooden box, it makes a great gift and at £9.99 is very reasonably priced. Any 4 year old fascinated by dinosaurs will love stamping the ink and creating a picture. If you’ve got a child who prefers princesses however, Melissa & Doug also sells a Princess Stamp Set.
13. Orchard Toys Loopy Llamas Game
Age Suitability: 4 years + | Batteries required: NoLoopy Llamas is a kids board game suitable for children from ages 4 and up. It sees players race their pieces around the board to get pool rings for their 3D llama. Interactive and engaging, this is another great game from the Orchard Toys team.
Smelly Wellies and Shopping List are just a couple of other Orchard Toys games that a 4 year old may also enjoy.
14. Melissa & Doug See & Spell Learning Toy
Age Suitability: 4 years + | Batteries required: NoThis charming toy comes with 72 colourful wooden letters that fit into 8 double-sided cut-out boards and spell 3- and 4-letter words. Kids will love playing with the letters, completing the puzzle and using the pieces as stencils.
‘This is one of those toys that kids can really engage with,’ says Emily, mum to Bethany and William. ‘I found it really helped my 4 year old to develop his phonetic skills and he really enjoyed looking at all the pictures too.’
15. Aldi Little Town Wooden Pirates Ship
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: No
Ahoy there! Swashbuckling kids of all ages who are fascinated by pirates will love this wooden pirate ship. It comes complete with fabric sails, a lookout platform, cannon, barrel, treasure chest, a mini sail boat and a rear opening stern for many a pirate adventure on the ‘open seas’. It wouldn’t;t be complete, of course – without a couple of pirates.
Online reviewers have praised it as one of the best toys for 4 year olds and great value for money, ”Brilliant and very solid easy to build, and bigger than you think,’ said one shopper. Another added, “I love this. Being a wooden toy it’s so much better than plastic. My grandson will love this.
16. Orangutwang Board Game
Age Suitability: 4 years + | Batteries required: NoThe trick of this game is to hang as much as you can before the orangutan goes ‘twang’. Players take turns to hang fruit and other jungle animals on the orang-utan until whoops – the loads get too heavy and he bounces off the line. It reminds us a little bit of Buckaroo, as you’re anticipating the worst every time you put a piece on the orangutan.
‘My kids love board games and we always get them out on rainy weekends and love to buy a new one each Christmas and on birthdays,’ says Joanna, mum to Caitlin. ‘This Orangutwang board game has been a particular favorite that we go back to time and time again.’
17. Fuzzikins Craft Bedtime Bunnies
Age Suitability: 4 years + | Batteries required: NoPerfect for inspiring creativity and imagination, this craft set comes with three soft bunnies that can be coloured in. There are also three sleeping bags for the bunnies that can be customised. What we found our testers liked most about this set was that the bunnies can be washed and then coloured in again.
‘I like the reusability of this toy,’ says Gemma, mum to Sienna and Oliver. ‘As it can be washed, each time we get it out it feels like new.’
18. Personalised Tenderleaf Wooden Tool Bench Toy
Age Suitability: 4 years + | Batteries required: NoThis wooden tool bench is designed to allow little ones to play independently, provide them with the opportunity to role-play and ‘fix’ things themselves. Complete with nuts, bolts and tool, this wooden toy bench can be personalised, making it one of the best toys for 4 year olds.
It’s a great way to get kids used to the idea of fixing things and learning practical skills. While it’s a simple toy, it’s really quite realistic in design and kids can have fun pretend sawing, hammering and using the spanner to unscrew the bolts.
19. Learning Resources Playfoam
Age Suitability: 4 years + | Batteries required: No | Price: £14.17This mess free, non-toxic play foam is great because it doesn’t dry out, stick to your furnishings or clothes and kids absolutely love squishing it, shaping it and stretching it. The handy travel case means you can take the foam with you when you’re on the go.
‘I had never heard of Playfoam before, but the kids seem to love playing with it,’ says Emily, mum to Bethany and William. ‘Sometimes we mix things up and I let my kids enjoy a completely sensory experience by getting out the Play Doh, Slime and the Playfoam. They make some wild and wonderful creations and it really seems to keep them engaged for quite a while – even if it is a little messy to clear up afterwards!’
20. Learning Resources Build & Bloom Flower Garden
Age Suitability: 4 years + | Batteries required: NoKids will love building this flower garden with a difference. This toy allows for open-ended play, encourages creativity and imaginative thinking and also helps build problem solving and fine motor skills. It comes with 116 plastic pieces including colorful gears, flowers, butterflies, bees, ladybirds, wiggly stems and more.
‘My children love anything to do with building – be it Duplo blocks or Lego – and this Learning Resouces Build & Bloom Flower Garden makes a nice change from the norm,’ says Joanna, mum to Caitlin. ‘I like the way you can use the pieces to make a range of configurations and can be mixed up each time the toy is played with.’
21. Chad Valley Lights and Sounds Construction Playset
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: No
A great value toy for kids, this Construction Site playset comes with 4 carsthat kids will enjoy playing with – whizzing around the room and into the house and around the garden. There’s a crabem wrecking ball, manual car lift, rotary platforms and conveyor belt. While it’s great toy for playing with around the house, we think its perfect for garden sandpits too. That’s why it has made it onto our list of best toys for 4 year olds.
‘My young boy absolutely loves playing with diggers and trucks and this construction cite set has just enough to keep him entertained time and time again,’ says Gemma, mum to Oliver and Sienna. ‘I have added to the range with existing toys and cars, just to mix things up and it seems to keep him entertained and stimulated.’
22. Smoby Play House
Smoby Kids Playhouse
Age Suitability: 3 years + | Batteries required: NoLet little ones run wild around in their own den at the bottom of the garden in a design such as the Smoby Kids Playhouse. This playhouse comes on stilts and features a slide, adding an extra level of exclusivity and fun to their set up. Manufactured in France, it comes with a one-year guarantee.
‘There are so many playhouses to choose from, but I like the simplicity of this design. I also like the fact that it is easily wipeable on the outside to keep it looking fresh,’ says Emily, mum to Bethany and William. ‘It’s colorful without being too garish. This was an important consideration when choosing such a large item for our garden.’
23. JoJo Maman Bebe Plant & Pick Veggie Patch
Age Suitability: 4 years + | Batteries required: No
Beautifully made from wood, this wooden Plant & Pick Veggie Patch may just nurture a love for gardening. The set includes a range of wooden fruit including beetroot, strawberries, carrots and turnips all neatly stored in a wooden box with basket underneath. There are five name pegs, a mini gardening fork, a watering can and a chalkboard panel on the side for kids to write on.
‘This is a classic toy in the making and one you’ll want to treasure long after the kids have finished playing with it,’ says Emily, mum to William and Bethany. ‘You can use the vegetables to encourage kids to count and develop their colour recognition too. Each vegetable is just the right size for a 4 year to hold and the shapes can be neatly slotted into the holes. My kids spent ages doing just that and loved it.’
What games do 4-year-olds like to play?
At this age, children should be getting more to grips with following instructions. They will also be continuing to learn to share toys and take turns. Don’t worry, it’s natural for this to take some time! Four year olds love to play games with others. However, you may need to continue to encourage the concept of sharing and ‘playing nicely’.
Games and toys for four years olds start to become more advanced than the sensory toys they may have played with when they were younger. You may notice that the imaginary games they play are more elaborate, too.
Child development expert and psychologist Dr. Amanda Gummer explained that buying toys for four year olds and playing games that encourage turn taking and communication, as well as playing with other children, can have a beneficial impact on their development and success in school later down the line:
‘A strong predictor of exam grades at the end of secondary is the social development of children as they start school. Focusing on playing games that encourage sharing and turn taking, as well as developing communication skills, are all great ways of helping your child prepare for the start of school.
‘Simple board games and toys that increase children’s confidence with numbers and letters are also helpful.’
By the age of four, you will also find your child is showing preferences to the types of games they like to play. So let them use their new found communication skills to tell you and show you what these are.
‘Allow children to make their own minds up whether they like dolls or drawing, cars or castanets,’ Heather advises.
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