The 9 Best Educational Toys for 4-Year-Olds of 2021

Games and toys that will make learning fun

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Our Top Picks
Encouraging open-ended play, this set will engage young minds through math, science, creativity, and STEM exploration.
Perfect for animal-loving kids, the camera has two modes of play, over 120 fun facts, and 120 quiz questions.
The classic educational toy provides hours of hands-on play and learning with its wooden blocks, all at an affordable price.
Suited for siblings or best friends to play together, no reading is required as players work to move the dinosaurs to safety.
Explore and compare measurements in the bath with sand or while cooking with these durable and colorful measuring tools.
Budding STEM explorers will enjoy this hands-on toy, which requires an iPad, that teaches pre-drawing and letters.
With space for up to six players, kiddos can also play on their own while practicing reading and having fun.
Learn geography, history, environmental science, and more with this tech-enhanced interactive globe that's accompanied by an app.
With the sticks and tiles combined, children can learn how to subtract, add, multiply, and divide.

By your child's fourth birthday, you'll be amazed by how much they have grown both physically and mentally. As their gross and fine motor skills improve and their interests develop, it'll become clear that it's time to add some fun educational toys to their collection. These toys will be so fun that they won't even realize that they are sharpening their essential skills.

Engage their minds with the best educational toys for your 4-year-old.

Best Overall: Magna-Tiles 48-Piece Deluxe Set

Magna-Tiles are well-loved 3D magnetic building blocks. Perfect for 4-year-olds, these toys will be played with for years to come, are easy to add on to, and are fun for solo or group play.

Encouraging open-ended play, this set will engage young minds through math, science, creativity, and STEM exploration. While not inexpensive, Magna Tiles are made to last for years of use and are appropriate for kids of all ages. 

Best Science: Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Talking Wildlife Camera

Get ready for a safari adventure with this interactive talking toy. Perfect for animal-loving kids, simply look through the camera to view high-resolution images of animals while learning cool facts from Robert Irwin. Use the included map to virtually travel around the world while learning about animals from each region.

The camera has two modes of play, over 120 fun facts, and 120 quiz questions. For open-ended play, kids can remove the camera from the base and let their imaginations run wild.

Best Budget: Melissa & Doug 100-Piece Wooden Block Set

This classic educational toy provides hours of hands-on play and learning, all at a budget-friendly price tag. Included are 100 durable wooden blocks in four colors and nine shapes.

Suitable alone or with a group, these versatile blocks can be stacked, lined up, built up, or combined with other toys, vehicles, or creatures for endless fun. Parent reviewers appreciate that the blocks all pack back into the box they came in.   

Best Collaborative: Peaceable Kingdom Dinosaur Escape Game

Peaceable Kingdom Dinosaur Escape Game

Work together to move the dinosaurs around the board and get them to safety before the dangerous volcano erupts. No reading is required in this easy to learn, cooperative game that’s suited for two to four players.

A little luck and a little group strategy combine to make this a fun family game that's great for younger kids. Parents praise how easy this game is to learn and get playing and appreciate the two levels of gameplay to challenge older kids or seasoned players. 

Best Math: Learning Resources Mix and Measure Activity Kit

Explore and compare measurements in the bath, with sand, or while cooking with these durable and colorful measuring tools that are specially made for smaller hands. The set includes a scale, three self-standing spoons, and six uniquely designed measuring cups.

For families looking for activity guidance, the kit also includes recipe cards for mystery goo, puffy paint, slime, and more. Reviewers praise this thoughtful toy, also noting all the items last through hundreds of trips through the dishwasher. 

Best STEM: Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit

Change the way your little one interacts with an iPad with this hands-on learning toy. The Osmo Base, 38 silicone pieces, game playmat, cardboard costume pieces, and four in-game apps are all included and easily connect to your iPad (not included).

Parents love that wifi is not necessary to work this tangible toy that teaches subjects like letters, pre-drawing, and social-emotional skills. Geared toward kids 3 to 5 years old, if your child enjoys OSMO, there are add-on kits and other options as they age up. 

Best Reading: ThinkFun Zingo! Sight Words Game

Developed by educators, this award-winning game is like bingo, but with sight words. Appropriate for pre-readers through early readers, Zingo is easy to play and lots of fun. Fast-paced, the game can be played with up to six players.

Parent reviewers love that kids can play this game all on their own while practicing reading and having fun. If Zingo is a hit, there are lots of other versions including letters, numbers, words, and more. 

Best Tech: Shifu Orboot Interactive Globe

Learn geography, history, environmental science, and more with this tech-enhanced interactive globe. This toy includes a 10-inch globe, passport, stamps, country flag stickers, and a detailed guide. Kids download an iOS and Android compatible app that will help them explore and learn about hundreds of highlights and facts across six categories: cultures, monuments, inventions, animals, maps, and weather.

With play, puzzle, and activity mode, the globe will keep curious kids busy. Parents praise this as engaging, educational, and exciting and could be a great option to see the world even as families are traveling less these days. 

Best Montessori: JIAKAI Math Counting Sticks

Montessori is a popular style of education based on hands-on learning, helping children develop fine motor skills through play, and self-directed activity. This math set does just that with more than a dozen wooden tiles and colored sticks. With the sticks and tiles combined, children can learn how to subtract, add, multiply, and divide.

Not only is this set Montessori-inspired, it’s also budget-friendly and lightweight. Parents and caregivers will appreciate the visual learning method with the tiles and sticks.

Final Verdict

The right educational toy depends on your child and the skill set you're trying to strengthen. For an all-in-one learning toy, the Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit (view on Amazon) is a great option. From phonics to STEM subjects, your little one can exercise all of their skills.

What to Look for When Shopping for Educational Toys for 4 Year Olds

Safety

Safety is always the most important thing to consider when shopping for toys for kids. Thankfully, by four years old, kids are a lot more stable than they were as toddlers (and are much better about putting small toys in their mouths), but they should still only be playing with toys that are appropriate for their age and development. You should look at the packaging of the toy to ensure your child is within the recommended age range for it.

Also, toys for four-year-olds should not have sharp edges, should be safe to be put in their mouths (because it still happens on occasion), and doesn’t put them at risk of major injuries, such as falling from a high platform.

Educational Milestones

At four years old, kids’ cognitive and social development is in overdrive, and the right toys can really encourage that growth. “Four-year-old children need plenty of opportunities to learn healthy social skills, like taking turns, accommodating other friends’ needs, and using kind words,” says Dr. Casares, “They also need chances every day for fun physical activity as they learn how to perfect their hand-eye coordination and work with others on teams.” Here are some toy ideas to help support this development:

  • Since it’s collaborative, the Peaceable Kingdom Dinosaur Escape Game (view at Walmart) is great for supporting a four-year-old’s social development and emotional intelligence. 
  • For hand-eye coordination, the Melissa & Doug 100 Piece Wooden Block Set (view at Amazon) is an excellent toy to play with. 
  • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), at around four years old kids can count ten or more objects, which is why the JIAKAI Math Counting Sticks (view at Amazon) is a good option for kids this age.

Interests

By this age, kids can usually communicate whether they do or do not like certain toys or activities, so it’s helpful to keep these interests in mind when shopping for educational toys since the only way for a child to benefit from these toys is by actually playing with them. In general, based on a four year old’s development “Activities like simple board games, pretend play with dolls, dress up, or roleplay, or introductory sports like soccer or t-ball work well for these kids,” says Dr. Casares. 

Additionally, four year olds often enjoy singing, dancing, and acting, according to the AAP, and can usually hop on one foot, do somersaults, swing, and climb, so any educational toy that incorporates any of these things is very likely to get played with.

FAQs

What makes a toy educational?

There isn’t a single thing that makes a toy educational, because they don’t necessarily have to be specifically designed for educational purposes to offer learning value. “Any toy that encourages or enhances your [child’s] learning and development can be educational,” pediatrician Whitney Casares, MD, MPH, tells Verywell Family.

Rather than focusing your efforts on shopping for toys that are marketed as educational, take a look at where your child should be developmentally and then look for toys that will support them as they master new milestones. 

How does play help with my child’s development? 

“Play encourages a child’s development by allowing them to practice independent problem-solving, encouraging creativity, and teaching them mindfulness,” says Dr. Casares. It offers opportunities for exploration, trying new things, and allows kids to learn new things on their own terms with toys they like and enjoy.

For example, coloring with crayons in a coloring book is a great exercise for fine motor skill development while a blank sheet of paper and a pile of crayons gives a child the opportunity to use their imagination and get creative by drawing whatever they’d like, which is beneficial to cognitive development.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Maya Polton is a former marketing manager and current freelance writer who covers food, home, and parenting. She’s also the mom of a 10-year-old son, 7-year-old son, and 3-year old daughter. Maya’s favorite toys for younger kids are easy to store, long-lasting, and can be played with by all three of her kids. For her crew, Magna-Tiles fit these criteria and are well-loved and frequently used in her house.

Additional reporting by Ashely Ziegler

Was this page helpful?