The Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds

Written by marianne descott
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The Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds
The best toys for 4-year-olds tap into their budding curiosity. (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Knowing exactly which toy to get that special child in your life can be tricky. A 4-year-old won't hesitate to tell you that toddler toys are too babyish, and toys that are too complicated will quickly be left aside. The best toys for 4-year-olds are ones that spark their growing curiosity and imagination. Four-year-olds have a desire to learn and the ability to concentrate on specific tasks. The best toys take advantage of these new qualities.

Intellectual Toys

Around the age of 4 a child's play changes. A 4-year-old can understand better, follow more complicated instructions, concentrate for longer periods of time and is more interested in activities that have a clear goal. For these reasons, games, puzzles and learning toys of all sorts are ideal for a preschooler. Topics can be as basic as learning letters and numbers to reading and math for a more advanced preschooler. Memorisation games or games that require the child to make choices are also the best for working those little neurons.

Imaginative Toys

Four-year-olds have watched the world go on around them and they are ready to act out what they see. They love to play make-believe and their pretend play is getting more elaborate. Their creativity should be encouraged and can be developed with many imaginative toys. For a child that is always underfoot while you're trying to cook dinner, a kitchen set is perfect. The 4-year-old that has a younger sibling might enjoy caring for an interactive baby doll. Playhouses, dress-up, tool sets and action figures are among the best toys at encouraging your 4-year-old to dream.

Outdoor and Motor-Development Toys

Puzzles and PCs aside, sometimes kids just need to be kids. Four-year-olds are becoming more coordinated and are as active as ever. Skateboards, bikes, scooters and Power Wheels all allow for kids to get outside and use their bodies to explore. Perhaps you'd enjoy teaching your child a new sport, or maybe your 4-year old could have some wet fun with an inflatable pool or water activity centre.

Interactive and Electronic Toys

One area where toys have changed over the years is in interactive and electronic toys. A DVD is already a great idea for a 4-year-old, but why not an interactive DVD that allows your preschooler to follow along and participate? Child computers allow for unlimited learning because they can be used to play different games and educational activities. A children's digital camera allows your child to capture and share the world how he sees it. Check out the brands Leapfrog and Playskool.

Musical and Artistic Toys

Crayons were fun at 3, but now that your child is getting a little older and better at colouring in the lines and creating drawings of his own, why not try sidewalk chalk, window markers or even tattoo pens? Moulding clay like Play-Doh has limitless possibilities for a creative 4-year-old, and make-your-own kits make crafts more accessible. Preschoolers also love music. They are now able to remember lyrics, re-create sounds and dance like never before.

Building Toys

Four-year-olds are finally able to get the hang of Legos, following instructions or building creations of their own. Other classics include K'Nex and Lincoln Logs or try some newer versions like Erector or Reptangles. Think buildings, cars, robots, dinosaurs and castles. And think pink, because building toys are not just for boys.

Toys With Characters

Children at this age identify strongly with characters they have seen in books and movies. A 4-year-old will be automatically drawn more to a toy that features a character that he knows. These characters serve as positive role models to your children and are a valuable resource in teaching and interacting. Some characters marketed towards preschoolers are Mickey Mouse, Strawberry Shortcake, Dora the Explorer, Thomas the Tank Engine, Elmo from Sesame Street, Bob the Builder and Lightning McQueen, but the best character for your 4-year-old is one that she knows. The best character toys tap into your child's intellectual, imaginative or physical abilities.

Toys That Aren't Toys At All

While you can't go wrong with books and DVDs for a preschooler, an item that encourages his independence is even better. A backpack or purse is perfect for transporting favourite things. New shoes that he helps pick out could make him excited about getting dressed everyday. An alarm clock could help him learn how to tell time. An apron could turn him into your little kitchen helper. Some of the best toys for a 4-year-old are real-world items that will help them transition from toddlerhood to their schooldays.

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