19 fun and educational gifts for 4-year-olds in 2020, based on guidance from a child psychologist – INSIDER

19-fun-and-educational-gifts-for-4-year-olds-in-2020,-based-on-guidance-from-a-child-psychologist-–-insider

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When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.Four-year-olds are at a transitional age, no longer toddlers and not quite school-age, which makes buying them gifts tricky.With help from a child psychologist, we chose 19 toys for 4-year-olds that will entertain and excite them this holiday season.Check out all of our 2020 holiday gift guides to find something for everyone on your list.When it comes to 4-year-olds, you don’t have to obsess over getting the perfect gift that they absolutely love right away. All 4-year-olds are different from one another, according to child psychologist Lawrence Balter, PhD, professor emeritus at New York University. They operate at different reading levels, different levels of physical agility, and they have different interests. “In some ways they’re like little teenagers,” Balter said. “They are asserting themselves more.”Inspired by Balter’s expert guidance, we searched for great toys for 4-year-olds. Because their interests evolve quickly, their favorite toy today might be ignored tomorrow, and a game previously tossed aside could be the next best thing. “If you make it available and the kid isn’t interested, don’t force it on them, but they might be interested six months or a year later,” Balter said. “As parents, we’re concerned in the moment. But kids are very variable.”Here are 19 of our favorite toys for 4-year-olds:

A role-play set for little doctors

Target

Melissa & Doug Doctor Role-Play Costume Set, available at Macy’s and Fat Brain Toys, $26.99Four-year-olds love dress-up and role-play. “They love to be in charge of things because adults tend to boss them around so much,” said Balter. A doctor costume is a fun way to explore this imaginative, authoritative side. Melissa & Doug’s set comes with a lab coat, stethoscope that makes sounds, face mask, name tag, and more.Recommended ages: 3 years and up

Binoculars for tiny explorers

Amazon

Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Kidnoculars available at Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Walmart, from $14.30Four-year-olds are starting to grasp and be interested in the world beyond their own. “At this age, they’re curious and like to try new things,” said Balter. “They have lots of questions. A lot of ‘why why why?’ questions.” These focus-free, easy-to-use binoculars encourage kids to satisfy their curiosity and explore the world around them.Recommended ages: 3 years and up

A charming puzzle set

Puzzle Huddle

Puzzle Huddle Future Chefs Puzzle, available at Puzzle Huddle and Amazon, from $24Puzzles are great ways for kids to challenge themselves and exercise fine motor skills, said Balter. Puzzle Huddle’s 32-piece floor puzzles feature diverse representation and affirming illustrations of kids engaging in professions.Recommended ages: 4 to 6 years old

Puppet crafting for artists and actors

Amazon

Creativity for Kids Make Your Own Sock Puppets, available at Amazon and Target, $17.89Kids use puppets for creative expression and imaginative play. “As an analyst, having worked with children and puppetry, what’s in their heads is so interesting,” said Balter. This kit allows kids not only to play with hand puppets, but to make their own using the included socks, felt shapes, fuzzy decorations, and googly eyes.Recommended ages: 3 years and up

A sensory toy for neurodiverse children

Amazon

DeMoca Busy Board, available at Amazon, $47.95Geared toward children with autism, this busy board features fun and colorful things to zip, tie, spin, and more. It’s a Montessori toy that is great for busy hands and developing fine motor skills. However, Balter advises that if you’re buying gifts for a child with disabilities, it’s important to remember that one size does not fit all. “There’s a whole range of disabilities,” he said. “Ask the parents what the kid would like. That’s the simplest way.”Recommended ages: 3 years and up

A toy they can destroy

Target

Mindware KaBlocks Blast, available at Amazon and Target, $39.95Kids need to build their large motor skills, too, according to Balter. The Mindware KaBlocks Blast allows kids to construct towers using soft foam blocks. Then, they stomp on a pedal and send the blocks flying into the air for a laugh. “Not everything has to be educational,” Balter said. “Some things can just be fun.”Recommended ages: 3 years and up

A tiny piano and mic setup

Amazon

Melissa & Doug Learn to Play Piano, available at Amazon, $56.99Musical instruments are fun and critical for children’s development, according to Balter. Many parents don’t have room for a grand piano, but they probably have space for this 16.5-inch-tall, 25-key toy piano. It comes with an illustrated song book and is made of durable wood.Recommended ages: 3 years and up

A monthly book subscription for voracious readers

Bookroo

Bookroo Picture Book Club, available at Bookroo, starting at $19.95/monthSave 30% on your first box with code “HOLIDAY30” at checkoutBook taste is subjective, and it can be difficult to find the right one for a choosy 4-year-old. Luckily, the acclaimed subscription service Bookroo curates monthly book picks for kids of all ages and ships them right to their door. Families can opt for two books a month (or every other month), or prepay for up to a year.Recommended ages: 3 to 6 years old

A first board game

Amazon

Zobmondo!! The Ladybug Game, available at Amazon, $19.99Four-year-olds are not great at following board game rules, according to Balter. However, the Ladybug Game is a rare gem that kids can play — or at least try to play — beginning at age 3. The Parents’ Choice Award-winning game only takes about 20 minutes to complete, and the board features numbers and colors to encourage reading and counting. Recommended ages: 3 years and up

A bike for both newbies and big kids

Target

Hot Wheels 16-inch Kids Bike, available at Walmart, $84Kids will stay active and outdoors with this bike. Thanks to the removable training wheels, kids can learn to ride before leveling up to two wheels. At under $100, it is a very affordable starter bike.Recommended ages: 4 to 8 years

A jewelry craft kit for beginners

Amazon

Kid Made Modern My First Jewelry Kit, available at Kohl’s, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Target, from $24.99Crafting is excellent for fine motor skills, and this set is tailor-made for little hands that are new to art. It comes with nylon strings and 100 large, easy-to-grasp pieces made from plastic and wood. It’s a great way for parents and kids to bond over gift-making, or for kids to focus on a solo activity. “Kids should have solitary activities so they can learn to be alone,” said Balter. “But it needs to be appropriate for their hands.”Recommended ages: 3 years and up

A hoodie that’s also a toy

Nordstrom Rack

Cubcoats Hoodie available at Nordstrom Rack, Maisonette, and Cubcoats, from $24.97A hoodie may seem like a lackluster holiday gift for a kid, but Cubcoats transform into cute, plush characters when folded and zipped. They’re adorable, entertaining, and functional. Cubcoats hoodies come in several colors including pink, yellow, and blue, and some of them fold into famous characters like Minnie Mouse and Spider-Man.

Classic shape-able sand

Amazon

Kinetic Sand Sandisfying Set available at Amazon, Target, and Walmart, from $14.97There’s a reason why Kinetic Sand is so popular, why it garnered a Parents’ Choice Award, and why we chose it as one of the best sensory toys for kids. It is moldable and never dries out, making it extra fun to build up and squish over and over again. It magically sticks to itself and nothing else, making it easier to clean than most crafting materials.Recommended ages: 3 years and up

An indoor playhouse that’s easy on the eyes

Crate and Barrel

Snack Shack Playhouse, available at Crate & Barrel, $139Kids love any opportunity to role-play in playhouses and run fake restaurants, so why not combine the two? Adults will love the Snack Shack Playhouse for its light weight and collapsible design. It’s stylized like a classy French outdoor cafe, which is an undeniable bonus. Plus, if the kids are feeling particularly imaginative, the shack could double as a puppet theater.Recommended ages: 3 years and up

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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected]

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