Four year olds are the masters of “let me do it”. Their independent, inquisitive nature comes on the heels of the toddler years, and it demands toys and games that offer more complex cognitive stimulation and encourage important social behavior. Looking for the perfect gifts for 4 year old boys? Check out our list of winners, loaded with picks that will engage their creativity and drive to learn.

The Winners

#1

Play22 Wooden Train Set

Best Overall

The Play22 Wooden Train Set​ features engines, cabs and cabooses with elegant paint detailing as well as bright, cheerful primary-colored wheels that work both on and off the tracks. This railway set is compatible with the Thomas the Tank Engine wooden railway toys as well as most other common wooden railways. The cars come in a wooden gift display box that’s great for storage when the toy is not in use. This train is totally safe, with no sharp edges or splinters. It’s a good pick for encouraging hand eye coordination improvement, small motor skill development and imaginative storytelling.

Developmental & Play Insights Play22 Wooden Train Set

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#2

Learning Resources Fishing Set

UPGRADE CHOICE

Playing pretend is great for four year olds, and the Learning Resources Fishing Set fishing set is awesome inspiration for imagining a day at sea. It can help to boost hand eye coordination, plus it’s a fun toy for kids to take turns playing with, which is good for social development. It’s an awesome pick for the bath, pool or water table, as floating fish can be caught with the magnetic fishing rod using the enclosed bait or scooped with the mesh net. A one-size fishing vest is included in the set, and a cute plastic tackle box stores the items when not in use. The tackle box container also makes the set very portable, so it’s great for bringing along on trips to the park or on vacation.

Developmental & Play Insights Learning Resources Fishing Set

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#3

Tiny Captain Boy's Socks

BEST BUDGET BUY

If we all have to wear socks, shouldn’t they at least be cool socks? Dinos make everything better, and this awesome set features five unique pairs in varying colors that make coordination with different outfits simple. The Tiny Captain Boy’s Socks feature a triceratops, t-rex and other dinosaurs with bold sayings like “powerful dinosaur” and “lizard king”. They’re comfortable, breathable crew socks that can be machine washed safely. For boys who dig dinosaurs, they’re sure to be a hit!

Developmental & Play Insights Tiny Captain Boy's Socks

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#4

Fisher-Price Imaginext Batbot Xtreme

This big, bad Imaginext Batbot Xtreme cuts an impressive figure. He’s over two feet tall, and he features wings, a projectile launcher, a motorcycle and an awesome voice changer. His shoulders feature power pads which trigger unique actions. Using the left power pad activates his battle mode, causing him to extend his wings and fists. Squeeze triggers give even more super punching action. Triggering the left power pad opens the chest, reveals Batman’s secret headquarters and displays the hidden elevator. There’s lots to do to keep them busy here, and it’s a good pick for encouraging creative play and storytelling.

Developmental & Play Insights Fisher-Price Imaginext Batbot Xtreme

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#5

Fisher-Price Think & Learn Smart Cycle

It looks like they’re going to the gym, but your special four year old will get a physical and mental workout on this stationary bike. The Fisher-Price Think & Learn Smart Cycle uses Bluetooth technology to connect to your tablet or television screen to let kids play driving and racing games as well as other educational activities. It’s compatible with the free Smart Cycle Mission To Tech City app, which offers extra content. It has a super durable steel construction, so it can hold up to many uses. It’s easy for kids to control thanks to movable steering handlebars which feature input controls and a joystick, and it’s a great pick for skill building.

Developmental & Play Insights Fisher-Price Think & Learn Smart Cycle

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#6

Hape All-in-One Wooden Kid's Art Easel

Easels are a cute addition to any bedroom or playroom, and the Hape All-in-One Wooden Kid’s Art Easel is useful, sturdy and packed with features. It has adjustable legs, so the easel can grow with your child. It’s dual sided, so it’s great for multiple kids to share. There’s a convenient utensil tray that extends between the two sides of the easel, and the tray has three slots for holding water or paint cups. The easel has a bar on top which holds a replaceable paper roll, making choosing a canvas as easy as pulling down. It also functions as a whiteboard, blackboard and magnet board, and magnets are enclosed to make holding down creations a breeze.

Developmental & Play Insights Hape All-in-One Wooden Kid's Art Easel

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#7

Flybar First Foam Pogo Jumper for Kids

Usable indoors or out, this durable foam pick is the ideal first pogo stick. The Flybar First Foam Pogo Jumper for Kids is safe for four year olds, but supports weights up to 250 lbs. This means it can be used by the whole family, plus it will also stay fun and safe as they grow. Each jump makes a loud, squeaky sound that kids will love. The foam toy is made of heavy duty components that assure it will hold up to repeated use. It’s a great pick for helping younger kids develop coordination, improve balance and master gross motor skills, plus it encourages them to associate physical fitness with having fun.

Developmental & Play Insights Flybar First Foam Pogo Jumper for Kids

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#8

68 Piece Kids Toy Workbench

A truly awesome addition to imaginative play, this​ ​68 Piece Kids Toy Workbench features tools, bolts and more. Kids will recognize familiar workshop tools like a screwdriver, wrenches, calipers and a clamp, all of which work like kid safe versions of the real thing. They’ll adore the electronic drill, which features realistic forward and reverse motion. It’s an excellent teaching toy that can build early interest in STEM and building, and they’ll love pretending and telling stories with their tools while helping to “fix” things around the house.

Developmental & Play Insights 68 Piece Kids Toy Workbench

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#9

Power Wheels Jeep Wrangler

Ride on toys are always well loved, and when they’re from Power Wheels, you know they’re going to be a hit. The Power Wheel’s Jeep Wrangler with awesome Hot Wheels decals and graphics features realistic motor sounds and tunes your little one can blast as they set off for a cruise. The chrome styled wheels and accents make them look extra cool as they cruise at 2.5 or 5 MPH, with a 2.5 MPH reverse speed. It’s a pick that’s designed with safety in mind, including an electronic breaking system that stops the vehicle as soon as a child’s foot leaves the pedal.

Developmental & Play Insights Power Wheels Jeep Wrangler

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#10

Brio World Deluxe Railway Set

The folks at Brio are experts at train toys, and this awesome starter railway is no exception. The Brio World Deluxe Railway Set features a fun harbor and metropolitan setting that gives home to passenger trains, freight trains, stations, cranes, bridges and more. Batteries are included, so all automated features work right out of the box. The simple assembly is just challenging enough to be a rewarding task for a four year old engineer, and the splinter-free wood railway set is compatible with most wooden railway track sets.

Developmental & Play Insights Brio World Deluxe Railway Set

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#11

Green Toys Ferry Boat with Mini Cars

Green Toys are known for their fun, simple, environmentally friendly toys. They encourage kids to imagine and tell stories by using recycled plastic to make unique picks like this ferry boat. The Green Toys Ferry Boat with Mini Cars is an ideal water toy that’s perfect in the tub, at the pool or in the back yard at their water table. The ferry boat accommodates two cars, one red and one yellow, both of which really roll. All the toys float for safety, and like all Green Toys, this ferry boat features no PVC, BPA, phthalates or external coatings.

Developmental & Play Insights Green Toys Ferry Boat with Mini Cars

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#12

KidKraft Bucket Construction Train Set

Upgrade Choice

The KidKraft Bucket Top Construction Train Set comes in a convenient storage bucket with a lid that builds right into the railway. The 61 piece set is compatible with other common wooden railway sets, and it assembles easily thanks to the detailed instructions that are enclosed. The winding track pieces together, connecting with the molded mountain that’s formed into the lid. A moving crane adds another dimension of realism and fun to the set. Once it’s disassembled, it stores easily in the bucket until another day. It’s a great pick for inspiring storytelling and creativity, plus it helps kids perfect small motor skills.

Developmental & Play Insights KidKraft Bucket Construction Train Set

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#13

Adventure Kidz Outdoor Exploration Kit

Best Overall

A dynamic outdoor exploration pick, the comprehensive Adventure Kidz – Outdoor Exploration Kit features binoculars, a flashlight, a compass and a fox whistle. It’s an ideal choice for when the family goes hiking or camping, but it’s also fun in the backyard for pretend play and nature exploration. The binoculars have 4×30 magnification, letting kids take a closer look at birds, animals and faraway sights. The magnifying glass also has 3x power, giving them a chance to zoom in on specimens and see details they might otherwise miss. The whistle adds an element of safety to play, and the bright beam of the LED flashlight illuminates exploratory playtime.

Developmental & Play Insights Adventure Kidz Outdoor Exploration Kit

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#14

Nat Geo Kids Book of Dinosaurs

As we’ve already noted with great importance, everything is better with dinos. Little aspiring paleontologists will love this guide from the experts at National Geographic.

The Nat Geo Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs features unique dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes with age appropriate fun facts and info. The large print, simple text makes this book an ideal teaching tool for new readers. Interactive questions and activity suggestions prompt kids into action outside the book, and they’ll love memorizing their favorite facts to share with friends and family.

Developmental & Play Insights Nat Geo Kids Book of Dinosaurs

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#15

Kinetic Sand Box Set

Kinetic sand is a toy that offers kids plenty of sensory engagement. The cool play tray that’s included with this Kinetic Sand Box Set will give kids a space to play while also limiting any potential mess. The vivid purple sand included with this set can be packed, pulled and squeezed for a great time that may offer some agitated children a good opportunity to self-soothe. The kinetic sand can also be sculpted using one of the four enclosed molds, which include a fish, a seahorse, a turtle and a castle. There’s enough sand and molds to share with a friend, and they’ll have a blast experimenting with other potential molds- try old funnels and ice cube trays!

Developmental & Play Insights Kinetic Sand Box Set

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

How to Pick the Perfect Gift for a Four-year-old Boy

Consider Their Developmental Stage

Developmental stage is the most important thing to consider when buying toys and gifts for kids. The best pick will be one that they can use easily, that has benefit for them and that they will have a blast playing with again and again.

Four year olds are beginning to shed toddler behaviors and habits. They’re quickly becoming independent, feeling less fearful when parents aren’t around. Their agility is improving, and they’re usually able to complete more complex physical instructions, such as standing or hopping on one foot. They’re better at drawing circles and squares, and they’re starting to draw people with two to four body parts. Their understanding of time has improved, they can recount their version of events and they’re able to imagine themselves in the role of another person.

At this stage, toys that encourage dressing up and pretending will be well loved. Interactive digital toys that have positive affirmations and are appropriately paced are good picks as this age, as children will have developed the motor skills to use them effectively. Blocks, phonics toys, construction sets and art sets are all ideal toys for 4 year old boys.

Entertainment vs. Education

When kids reach age four, they’re generally better able to process educational toys. It’s a great time for learning, as they’re particularly receptive to new skills and ideas at this age. Their ability to follow simple command strings also improves around four years of age, so digital educational games are a great pick for both learning and fun.

They’ll be especially interested in engaging in pretend play now, which doesn’t have to be educational to be beneficial. Even a treasure chest of old Halloween costumes from the discount store can be a favorite pick for four year olds, who love showing off and taking on new roles.

Physical vs. Cognitive vs. Social

Staying active is important for all people at all stages of development, but four year olds are generally well on their way to perfecting their motor skills. Toys that encourage getting outside and running around are evergreen favorites, but it’s more important that kids begin to develop intellectually and socially now.

Kids are especially good learners around age four, so toys that boost their cognitive skills are particularly effective. Because they’re more able to follow simple instructions, they’ll be more successful at teaching games, especially those that offer encouragement and keep a pace they feel comfortable with.

By four, kids should be engaging socially with other kids on a somewhat regular basis. This might include visits to the park, an indoor activity center, day care, kindergarten and many other situations. They’ll be preparing to attend school soon, and they’re also better able to socialize and more interested in making friends than ever before. Simple social games that don’t involve reading are great now.

Digital vs. Manual

There’s less worry about neglecting developing motor skills by the time kids reach four. They’re also better able to use digital educational toys correctly, so this is the ideal time to break them out. Manual toys belong in the world of every kid, however, and toys like building sets that offer cognitive stimulation through hands on activity should still always take priority over electronics.

Wrapping Up

As you’ve probably realized, that special four year old boy in your life isn’t a baby anymore. They’re well on their way to being a kid, and their skills and interests are starting to reflect that. Now that you know the ideal gift picks for your clever little guy, you’re sure to choose a present that’ll keep him learning and playing all year long.

Quick Decision

Tiny Captain Boy’s – Best Overall
It’s a good pick for encouraging hand eye coordination improvement, small motor skill development and imaginative storytelling.

Learning Resources Fishing Set – Upgrade Choice
It’s an awesome pick for the bath, pool or water table, as floating fish can be caught with the magnetic fishing rod using the enclosed bait or scooped with the mesh net.

Prextex Pack of 2 Cartoon R/C Cars – Best Budget Buy
Feature a triceratops, t-rex and other dinosaurs with bold sayings like “powerful dinosaur” and “lizard king”.

garbage truck toy

THE BEST TOY GARBAGE TRUCKS

Crunk, bang, shuffle! Kids love garbage trucks and we’ve discovered the very best and most realistic garbage toy trucks you can buy.

Gary B.

Gary B.

Gary is a father of two, self-identified RC fanboy, and part-time guitar plucker. When he's not racing his collection of remote-controlled vehicles or strumming away, we bend his arm and get him to write with precision and expertise on a range of mechanical and electrical toys.

#8

68 Piece Kids Toy Workbench

A truly awesome addition to imaginative play, this​ ​68 Piece Kids Toy Workbench features tools, bolts and more. Kids will recognize familiar workshop tools like a screwdriver, wrenches, calipers and a clamp, all of which work like kid safe versions of the real thing. They’ll adore the electronic drill, which features realistic forward and reverse motion. It’s an excellent teaching toy that can build early interest in STEM and building, and they’ll love pretending and telling stories with their tools while helping to “fix” things around the house.

Developmental & Play Insights 68 Piece Kids Toy Workbench

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social
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