In this modern age of innovation and automation, parents and tutors seek the best means to give children a head start in life to achieve their goals. From the invention of code-teaching caterpillars, colorful chemistry kits, and magnet making kits, STEM toys are a great way to lay a solid foundation for your child’s developmental and cognitive skills. And what could be better than STEM-focused, active toys for your 4-year-old?
You can simply define STEM toys as learning toys, games, and activities. Not just any learning though! They help develop an aptitude for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. While they are great screen-free options for building your child’s early interest in STEM, these educational toys also aid continuous development, interest, and engagement in the world around them. STEM toys range from toddler age groups, preschoolers, tweens, and teenagers to adults as well. In this article, we’ll place our focus on active STEM toys for 4-year-olds (preschool age range).
While it is hard to recommend just one, we have no doubt that the LEGO Classic Medium Creative Brick Box will be a hit with any 4-year-old. It will give them all sorts of learning and creativity options, along with active play.
However, we have a couple of other great options for you, so read on to see our recommended active toys for 4-year-olds.
- 9 Best Active Toys for 4 Year Old Kids Reviewed
- Best Overall – LEGO Classic Medium Creative Brick Box
- Best Subscription Box – KiwiCo Crate
- Best Budget Option – Hape Flexistix STEM Building Creativity Kit
- Best Intro to Natural Science – Insect Lore Butterfly Garden
- Best for Little Fixers – Kidzlane Durable Kids Tool Set
- Best for (Very) Active Play – Flybar My First Foam Pogo Jumper
- Best for Bath Time – Fat Brain Toys Squigz Starter Set
- Best Dinosaur-Themed Toy – TEMI Dinosaur Toy Figure w/ Activity Play Mat
- Best for Creative Building – Meland Marble Run Set for Kids
- What to Consider When Buying a STEM Active Toy for 4 Year Olds
- Frequently Asked Questions
9 Best Active Toys for 4 Year Old Kids Reviewed
Best Overall – LEGO Classic Medium Creative Brick Box
LEGO has long become a poster brand for all-embracing play! That is why we consider their award winning LEGO Classic Medium Creative Brick Box the best all-rounder. It’s great for STEM, critical thinking, logic, engineering, plus kids love it!
This 484-piece set will allow your little ones to build dozens of animals, vehicles, buildings. Or pretty much anything else that comes to mind! They can build the models indoors and then bring them outside for active play.
Once they’re done building, the pretend play starts! The set really unleashes the potential for active games. It’s excellent for kids as young as 4 years. But kids of all ages and even adults will enjoy it. Being compatible with all other LEGO sets, it translates to years of fun!
Best Subscription Box – KiwiCo Crate
Parents are often complaining that their kids get bored easily. Even the most brilliant toys fail to hold their attention longer than a week.
Well, that’s why KiwiCo Crate is such a wonderful product. The beauty of it is that it’s not a single toy. First off, you get to choose between different types of crates for making, tinkering, doodling, geography, culture, arts, engineering, and more. Each month, you’ll get another box full of exciting projects. Plus, they offer toys and games for kids of all ages. You’ll literally see the thrill in your kid every month when the new delivery is due! It’s like getting them another gift – or five – each month.
The great news is that you don’t have to commit annually. After choosing your plan, you’ll get the first crate in just two days. If you don’t like it, pause the plan or cancel it altogether!
Check out other amazing subscription boxes that will provide years of learning fun!
Best Budget Option – Hape Flexistix STEM Building Creativity Kit
This STEM Building Creativity Kit is a great open-ended educational toy set created by Hape. Kids have the opportunity to create, play, and learn at the same time with eco-friendly bamboo pieces. A great way to reduce plastics!
The little ones can harness the power of their imagination and build towers from their own resourceful designs. Or they can recreate real-life towers and structures, such as the Eiffel Tower or a bridge in your hometown, using the multi-colored easy-to-connect sticks.
This innovative STEM toy is manufactured using sustainable bamboo, water-based paint, and silicone. It is completely safe for 4-year olds to play with, and this toy can help develop their young, creative minds.
Best Intro to Natural Science – Insect Lore Butterfly Garden
The Insect Lore Butterfly Garden will bring the wonders of natural cycles and metamorphosis right into your home! It contains five baby caterpillars, a mesh habitat, station logs, a butterfly feeder. There’s some yummy nectar too! Moreover, your kid will get a STEM butterfly journal with learning activities so that they can record their progress. It can even function as a nice keepsake!
The child will enjoy nourishing and watching the caterpillars transform into chrysalides and then into Painted Lady butterflies. It’s not strictly for 4-year-olds, but even they will love it. Some parental supervision will be necessary, though, if only to make sure they don’t try to seize or harm the fragile creatures. Kids love touching things!
The only downside to this playset is that it only provides a one-time experience. When the growing and transformation cycle is over, your kid will release the butterflies into their natural habitat. However, they will have acquired a genuine experience and possibly a lifelong interest in nature by that moment. And with it comes empathy! In all likelihood, they will seek and observe butterflies for years to come.
Remember that you should only order this product when daytime temperatures aren’t lower than 55 or higher than 85 degrees. That’s the temperature range necessary for the caterpillars to thrive.
Best for Little Fixers – Kidzlane Durable Kids Tool Set
Some kids show a natural inclination to all things mechanic. I’ve seen it with my nephew. Ever since he started toddling about, nothing generated more joy than observing wheels and drills, screws and bolts!
The KidzLane Durable Kids Tool Set is excellent for such little tinkerers. It’s a proper, realistic little toolbox full of fun and colorful handyman’s items. Your little one can hammer and drill all around the place! Another thing that I love is that the toy will work great outside too. Just put the tools into the transparent box for portability, and you’re good to go.
While there are many kids’ toolboxes that also teach them counting and the alphabet, this is one of the best active toys for 4 year old boys and girls who seek a more authentic experience.
Best for (Very) Active Play – Flybar My First Foam Pogo Jumper
Where do toddlers and preschoolers get all of their energy from? I don’t know, but I certainly know how to make them spend some of it!
Flybar My First Foam Pogo Jumper is a perfect gift for very active kids. They will jump around, back and forth like rabbits, enjoying the squeaky sound. The toy is made of durable foam that doesn’t scratch the floor. As far as jumping indoor toys go, it sounds fine so far!
The great thing is that kids can also bring this toy outside and jump to their heart’s content. If you have more than one kid, get a jumper for each of them. And watch some exciting active games evolve! That will keep kids engaged for quite some time. Apart from pure fun, active kids will also benefit from improving their balance and gross motor skills. It’s also a great gift idea for kids with ADHD. Parents should always keep in mind that physical activity is a necessary ingredient of child development!
The toy will be less fun for you, though – especially if you need some peace! And that’s the most “serious” disadvantage of the game.
Best for Bath Time – Fat Brain Toys Squigz Starter Set
Kids love suction cups, and they will have a blast with the Fat Brain Toys Squigz! Especially when there’s a bunch of colorful little cups in various shapes that connect to build all kinds of models. Your child will especially enjoy the popping sound they make when they try to disconnect them.
These little squigz are fun enough on their own. But the true fun comes in with a creative approach! Kids can make all sorts of imaginative projects, including animals, vehicles, rockets, jewelry, even toys for their pets.
Active kids will especially like that they can use them inside, outside, or in the bathroom! They will stick to any surface, dry or wet. So if your child isn’t very eager to bathe, there’s a toy that will make it easy for them.
Apart from pure fun, there are other benefits to this playset. It helps develop creativity and fine motor skills.
Like all Fat Brain Toys, this set is suitable for kids on the autism spectrum too. They are often sensory seekers, so all the touching and popping sounds will appeal to them as well.
Best Dinosaur-Themed Toy – TEMI Dinosaur Toy Figure w/ Activity Play Mat
Ungluing your child from all the smartphones and tablets can be a daunting task. Luckily, TEMI Dinosaur Toy Figure w/ Activity Play Mat makes it so much easier! Kids like playing with dinosaurs, and there are nine of them in this playset. Including, of course, the hair-raising T-Rex!
The set is excellent for pretend play but also various forms of storytelling and active games. With this gift, kids ages 4 and up will also learn quite a bit of info about these majestic creatures and paleontology. Another thing that I really like is that the set encourages teamwork and playing with siblings or friends. Apart from being active, it’s also one of the best interactive toys for 4 year olds! It’s also compatible for both indoors and outdoors.
The playmat adds another dimension. A huge dinosaur park with trees, paths, as well as houses, and roller coasters. Which brings us to the only aspect of this toy that I kind of dislike. I would have preferred dinosaurs shown in their natural habitat. They are certainly amusing, but that doesn’t mean they belong to an amusement park!
However, it provides a perfect opportunity to add some thought-provoking debates with older kids. Why can’t they see dinosaurs in a zoo today? Would it even be okay if it were possible? The whole family can join in!
Best for Creative Building – Meland Marble Run Set for Kids
This Marble Run Sets is a wonderful toy that both children and parents (?) can play with. It makes a perfect playtime activity for family members of all ages to strengthen their bond.
There are no rules in using this colorful toy. Kids can enhance their creative imagination and make their own designs while learning engineering concepts and how gravity works! They can develop their strategy skills and learn to build artistic marble tracks from their own imaginations.
This STEM toy helps children improve their hand-eye coordination, recognition of shapes and colors, and rational thinking. The pieces connect easily, thus avoiding the frustration that comes with many toys for this age. It will get your kids engaged for hours, leaving you much room to do your chores! The pieces are easy to clean if there are any spills. Plus, it is absolutely safe for kids to use because it is 100% non-toxic.
What to Consider When Buying a STEM Active Toy for 4 Year Olds
There’s no need to fret too much over the safety aspect when it comes to toys for tweens or teens. These kids are old enough to look after themselves.
However, a 4-year-old is just a tiny step away from a toddler. They aren’t exploring the outside world by popping things into their mouth. But it can still happen by accident.
So, you should still make sure that your gift doesn’t contain tiny parts. If it’s plastic, you should opt for BPA and phthalate-free. Wood is even better, of course!
How much energy does it involve?
Kids are mutually different. But at the age of 4 or thereabout, most of them will seek active games and experiences. If yours is a little rascal, you may want to consider getting them a very active toy. A jumper, a trampoline, or a balance bike will be a blast!
Other kids, however, are calmer by nature and will have fun with more “passive toys.” Building or robotics kits will do an excellent job here! Especially because once they build something, they can include it in their active games and do some role-playing.
Indoors or outdoors?
With parents growing ever more concerned about excessive screen time, it’s paramount to choose toys that can function outdoors and inside. They can be “traditional” toys like a simple ball or playmats, action figures, and games that you can bring outside.
Maybe you want your kids to spend more time in nature? If that’s the case, consider STEM toys that tap into natural sciences. Those can be microscopes or garden sets and tools. They will motivate kids to explore the natural world around us. Building some awareness about the necessity of living in accordance with nature is another plus!
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a 4 year old like to play with?
The answer really depends on the kid themselves and their interests. Even though 4-year-olds are small, they already have a personality. They know very well what they like and don’t like!
Still, it’s possible to generalize to a certain extent. Kids this age will enjoy role play and pretend play, which helps them flex their imagination. But they will also like crafty stuff, building, and tinkering!
Of course, a certain amount of running and jumping will always spice things up. Even if your kid is calm and more withdrawn, you should always keep in mind the importance of the physical activity. A game of hide-and-seek is wonderful for all ages!
Why try active STEM toys for your 4-year-old?
There are multiple reasons!
- STEM toys can provide a screen-free learning mode that encourages children to use their hands to put things together and carry out fun experiments.
- They develop and encourage an early interest in activities crucial to a child’s development.
- They promote early critical thinking, purpose-driven work, fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination in children.
- The use of the engineering tool kit promotes creativity and spatial skills in children, bringing their imaginations to life.
- The early introduction of children to active toys, especially around the age of four, helps them develop divergent thinking, encouraging them to seek various ways of fixing problems they encounter.
Those are just some of the reasons why you must try active STEM toys. For more great toy ideas for your preschooler, check out our preschooler STEM toy guide, featuring everything from code-teaching caterpillars (a crowd favorite) to learning about plants and nature with a botany experimental greenhouse!
Can younger siblings play with my 4-year-old’s toys?
Even if these toys are too complicated for younger kids, they may still want to play with them. Older siblings are often role models, after all! And there’s no harm in letting them play with toys that are slightly over their age range, as long as they are safe. Age range labels aren’t carved in stone!
Last update on 2021-06-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API