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The best birthday gifts of 2016: happy fourth birthday!

Age four is an exciting year: kids at this age are on the runway to kindergarten, and they’re bursting with energy and creativity. They’re refining their social skills, learning to play games and share, and using their imagination to play out realistic and fanciful scenarios. If you’re shopping for your own four-year-old’s birthday, you probably already know what birthday gifts they want because they’ve told you, but if you’re shopping for another kid you don’t know as well, hopefully this guide will help!



feed the woozle cooperative game birthday giftBlue Orange Spot It! Jr. Animals, $9.99
A beginner variation on one of our best-beloved games. Every card has exactly one picture that matches exactly one picture on every other card. Match up the cute critters and collect cards to win!

Feed the Woozle Cooperative Game, $19.99
Cooperative games are great for kids this age, since they let you sidestep hurt feelings about winning or losing, and this cooperative game will delight kids with its silliness: feed the cute monster fuzzy donuts, mud meatballs, and other yummy monster snacks to win!

Disney Palace Pets Royal Pet Salon Game, $27.99
This adorable game will be a big hit with little Disney Princess fans! The goal is to search out treats and accessories for the pampered dogs, cats, and bunnies who share the fairy-tale castles of the famed Princesses, and kids get to practice counting and taking turns along the way.



playmobil playground birthday giftSchleich Dragon Knight with Axe, $9.99
Look out, bad guys! This brawny little guy is ready for action, whether he’s chopping down a tree or battling mighty enemies. Schleich action figures are sturdy and beautifully detailed, perfect for imaginative preschoolers.

Melissa & Doug Sandwich Making Set, $19.99
On its own or added to a play kitchen, this pretend food playset lets kids build endless combinations of sandwiches to serve up for family and friends. It’s great for social play, and because the sandwich pieces attach to each other with Velcro, kids won’t get frustrated by “sandwiches” that fall apart too easily.

Playmobil City Life Children’s Playground, $44.99
Kids will be thrilled by all of the details and moving parts on this Playmobil set: the merry-go-round spins, the swings swing, the bouncy horse bounces, and they can make their little Playmobil pals slide down the slide. The deluxe set also comes with three child figures and two adults, so there’s lots to do!

Age 4 is really the sweet spot for Playmobil; while I have trouble imagining a kid this age who wouldn’t think this set is incredibly cool, this is only one of many, many sets that could make a great gift. If the child you’re shopping for loves unicorns, hockey, police, pirates, or pop stars, we’ve got Playmobil playsets for them!

Loog Kids’ Electric 3-String Guitar, $199.00
As Sheri points out at, many four-year-olds are ready for their very first music lessons, and this cleverly designed three-string guitar is scaled down to make the learning process as easy as possible. It’s a super-deluxe gift that’s built to thrill!



poof-slinky-114-pc-frontier-logs-set-114LBL-aFrontier Logs 114-Piece Set, $29.99
Lincoln Logs were one of my absolute favorites as a kid, and I’m so glad they’ve been brought back for today’s children! Kids will love building and populating their own little frontier homes, and they’ll be practicing spatial relationships, coordination, planning, problem-solving, and visualization as they build.

LEGO Juniors Police – The Big Escape, $37.99
LEGO Juniors sets are designed to be an intro to building for kids who want something a little more substantial than DUPLO but aren’t ready for more detailed building projects yet. And with two vehicles, three minifigures, and ample accessories, this set becomes a pretend-play toy once they’re done putting everything together!

Magna-Tiles Clear 100-Piece Set, $120.00
An all-time-favorite super deluxe gift: these beautiful magnetic building tiles are a gift that kids will keep playing with for years to come, and because this is such a large set, it’s great for social playtime as well, with siblings or playmates. The building possibilities are endless, and so are the learning opportunities.



smartgear balance bike birthday giftHog Wild Penguin Popper, $9.99
This super-silly active toy will have kids giggling and chasing each other all over the house or the back yard: squeeze the penguin’s belly to launch soft foam balls! (It’s a good idea to make sure every kid in a household gets their own.)

Smart Gear Balance Bike, $89.99
Balance bikes are the best way for kids to experiment with the toughest part of riding a bike, before they attempt to deal with pedals. They’ll love gliding along on this bike, and after they’ve mastered balancing on this, they’ll be more than ready for the real thing!



melissa & doug stacking garage birthday giftMelissa & Doug Stack and Count Parking Garage, $19.99
Kids will love having their own fleet of colorful little wooden cars, and there are countless ways to play with this set: stacking and sorting, vrooming cars around the room, and making the counter go up and down.

Tonka Retro Classic Steel Bulldozer, $39.99
This sandbox classic is Tonka tough! It’s an obvious homerun gift for a kid who’s obsessed with construction equipment, but really, who doesn’t love pushing dirt and sand around?


buying guide - toys ages and stages

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