By age four, there’s one very easy shortcut to finding the perfect gift for your kid: just ask her! At this age, kids are pretty clear on what they like, whether it’s princesses, dinosaurs, superheroes, or baseball. Granted, your child may ask for something you’re not quite willing to give them (say, a pony or an iPad), but you can get an idea of their interests quite easily.
So this list will probably be more helpful to those of you who are gift-shopping for a kid you don’t know as well, like your child’s preschool classmate, or your adorable nephew who lives across the country. While kids at this age are beginning to divide themselves up by gender and by particular preferences and tastes, they still mostly have a lot in common. So here are some new favorites and older classics we know will be a big hit!
The Original Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine, Cra-Z-Art, $22.99
There’s a reason why Time Magazine rated this one of the 100 Best Toys of All Time: it’s still so much fun! No batteries, either – it’s totally kid-powered. Add ice, grind it up to make snow, and then add fruit juice or soft drinks. Yummy! Kids will love serving up Sno-Cones to you and all of their little pals, since at this age, there’s nothing better than getting to say “I made it myself!”
Smart Gear Balance Bike, Wonderworld Toys; $89.99
At this age, kids are ready to take on the challenge of balancing on a scooter or even pedaling a bike. A balance bike lets them practice using their feet to coast and lifting them up to glide along. Gliding is super-fun, and it helps them build up the confidence to ride for real! It’s made with renewable, natural, non-toxic materials, and has big tire treads, a limited turn radius, and no spokes (so it won’t catch shoelaces). Just add a helmet and you’ve got a recipe for outdoor fun!
Hoot Owl Hoot Cooperative Game, Peaceable Kingdom; $19.99
Cooperative games support physical and cognitive development and teach pro-social skills, and games like Hoot Owl Hoot are plenty of fun. The goal is to move the baby owls back to their nest before the sun comes up, and everyone works together to get them there. The owls are super cute, and everybody wins!
Sands Alive! Glow Starter Set, Play Visions; $24.99
How do you make everyone’s favorite play sand even more fun? You make it glow in the dark! And it’s not just all glowing, all the time: you get a special glow tool and charging glasses to create some surfaces that glow, some that don’t. Creative kids will have a ball experimenting with it, and even minus the glow, Sands Alive is totally irresistible to squish, moosh, and knead – it feels like cookie dough without the stickiness.
LEGO Juniors Knight’s Castle, LEGO; $64.99
Kids who have outgrown DUPLO blocks and long to create more sophisticated LEGO creations will go wild for this set, designed for LEGO beginners. The resulting castle has loads of details that kids will love (working catapults!!!), but the building instructions and pieces are simplified so younger kids can build it on their own (or with limited help). There are even instructions to build alternate vehicles, weapons, and more!
We also have LEGO Juniors sets that cater more specifically to fans of princesses or superheroes, for your more discriminating birthday kid!
Pretty Much Everything From Playmobil; $2.99 – $99.99
This classic brand has something to please every creative preschooler, with pretend-play kits featuring cops, pirates, princesses, knights, robots, firefighters, and even… regular-old families like their own.
Pretty Much Everything From Bruder; $24.99 – $69.99
These German-manufactured toy trucks are loaded with detail, and have plenty of moving and working parts (working cranes! Working cement mixers! A working forklift! holy cow!). In the playroom, the sandbox, or the backyard, they’ll get quite the workout – and they’re built tough, because the folks at Bruder know how little kids play (they’re not gentle). Is he asking for a toy truck? Get him one of these.
Make Your Own Disney Princess Tiaras, Klutz; $16.99
There’s a lot of fun in this kit at a low price point. Not only will kids love customizing their own tiaras and princess jewelry to match their favorite characters, but then they’ve got oodles of sparkly pretend-play props! If you’re getting a gift for a princess-themed birthday party, you can’t lose with this one.
This is only a short list of possible presents to please a preschooler – we’ve barely even scratched the surface of craft kits, building sets, and dress-up toys. Other brands that hit this age group’s sweet spot perfectly include Melissa & Doug, Schleich, and Magna-Tiles, so explore their products if you don’t see anything that looks just right above.
And of course, if you’re stumped on what to buy – we’re here to help! Come to any Magic Beans store, contact us by email or phone, or make an appointment for a free consultation, and our Toy Whizzes will hook you up. This is going to be the best birthday ever!