The preschool years are some of the swiftest to fly by but matter the most. For preschoolers, there's magic in simplicity. You want your little one to enjoy hours of fun, but would also like them to learn. The secret is knowing under 4s learn from almost every interaction within their environment.
Gift-giving should simply add sustenance to their routines, interactions with the world, and the people around them. Here are 17 great gifts for under 4s to get the child in your life something unique they’ll love.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our FREE Personal & Family Values. This printable provides a great opportunity for your family to explore and identify values that can help guide you and your children in making the right choices.
What Is Appropriate for This Age?
Preschool spans infancy through kindergarten and includes children between ages 2 ½ to 4 ½ years old. Gifts should therefore consider your child's needs, strengths, and interests.
Safety is a significant consideration for this age group as choking hazards abound. In addition, children at these ages may still be testing their environment through chewing and sucking on toys, so be mindful of this when choosing a toy. You may also want to consider the ease of cleaning. From blocks to blankets and stuffed animals, cleaning should be accomplished with relative ease.
Toys Should Grow with Your Child
Frugal parents will appreciate the best gifts for under 4s will last and grow with their children. These toys should stand up to the wear and tear of little hands allowing children to continue to construct amazing things for years to come.
1. The Duplo Creative Fun Playset is a good starting point for getting your little one excited about building. With a few easy building ideas and a lot of room for creativity, this set provides the perfect canvas for the imagination. Duplo blocks have become the standard with so many choices at any age. They can be used with instructions for specific models or allow free-flow thinking. Additional playsets expand for hours and years of play.
2. The 60 Standard Unit Blocks from KAPLAN are the standard for most preschool learning environments. Built to last for years and to allow for the most creative thinking, this set is a brilliant choice for your little builder. Wooden blocks are an excellent choice with the ability to adapt to and be used with other toys. For example, children can make a wooden block castle for their action figures and dolls.
3. STEM-supporting sets like Robot Engineer allow young children to venture into the world of building robotics. These sets keep 3-4 year-olds occupied even after the creation is complete.
4. The Ultimate Fort Builder by Lakeshore allows children 4+ to construct the perfect fort they can sit in. These sets make buildings your child can enter. With some adult supervision, under 5s will appreciate the majestic new buildings they can play in.
Toys Fostering Pretend Play
Children learn through modeling and we see positive outcomes when they are provided opportunities to play house, doctor, and school. For example, they may enjoy dressing up to look like parents or caregivers by wearing big shoes and clothes during play. They may also begin having more of an interest in helping with cooking and other household chores.
5. Helping Hands from Montessori by Mom provides a beautiful starter set of products to promote independence and a sense of community. Children can take part in chores at home and in other environments, fostering teamwork and self-awareness.
6. Manine Montessori's Children's Baking Set is just one of the many pretend play sets that can prepare your child for independence in the kitchen. The collection is made of sturdy wood and is small for little hands, allowing your child to bake next to you while you’re busy in the kitchen.
7. KAPLAN's Career Dramatic Play Garments for Preschool provides child-size clothes representing several careers, from doctor to airline pilot. Multiple sets are available to expand career choices and allow children to emulate essential roles in their community.
Help Foster a Sense of Community
Children also enjoy cars and town sets for pretend play - to pick up groceries, go to school, a park, and other places just like their parents or caregivers do. Playsets promote turn-taking and community-focused play while helping introduce directions and positions like left, right, up, down, above, and below.
8. Melissa and Doug's Wooden Town Playset creates the best foundation for teaching children about the world around them. The kit helps your child develop their town to experiment with buildings, trees, and street signs. Expansion sets can add cars and people to the fun.
9. Big Red Barn from Bratta Toys gives children fun on a farm with small hand-friendly animals and farmers, which gives the feeling of live life on a farm. The durable farm opens up to provide space for farm animals and any other toys your child would like to bring into their pretend play.
10. Ikea's Stradsdel Town Rug provides a base with roads and landmarks on which your child can drive their favourite cars and pretend-play with their favourite dolls and action figures. The bright colors draw children in and the durability and cleaning ease will please parents who hadn’t noticed their child drinking juice on the floor.
Connect Your Child to the Great Outdoors
Gardening with young children is a staple for most preschool settings as are neighborhood hikes. Here are some sets to expand your child’s knowledge of gardening, hiking, and other ways to enjoy nature.
11. The Junior Garden Tote and Tool Set by Discovery Toys offers child-size tools and gloves for working in the yard. Your child can plant seeds and learn responsibility by caring for and nurturing the seedlings. The toys are durable for rough and tumble play; the tools are also easily cleaned and will last for many years of fun.
12. The Camping Gear Toys Tent Set by Mitcien has everything your little explorer needs to experience a campout. The set includes a tent as well as a light-up lantern, and a glowing camping stove.
13. Deuter Pico's Children's Backpack is a top choice for little ones on the go. The child-friendly size and weight allow young children to carry their own water, snacks, and anything significant for their journeys without straining growing bodies.
14. Little Passports offers a monthly subscription to give children the opportunity to experience different parts of the world. For example, the first month starts in Brazil with a pretend suitcase, passport, and map to new adventures.
All Hail Creativity
Educational gifts for preschoolers have to include art materials. Regardless of age, you can never go wrong buying children's art supplies. Art projects not only promote creativity, but they can also become a solid coping skill that grows with your child.
15. Kaplan’s All About Me-Creative Open-Ended Arts Kit includes components for studying basic anatomy, making self-portraits, and more!
16. Big Life Journal has the best journals to enrich art activities for expression and self-identity. They are an excellent starting point to allow children to add their styles with glitter, paints, and even nature items from outside.
17. The Creative Kids Air Dry Clay Modeling Crafts Kit provides hours of art adventuring with all the tools children need to work a piece of clay into a masterpiece. The set comes with 50 packs of clay and tools needed to sculpt and decorate whatever your child chooses to create.
Gift-giving for preschoolers is easy when we pare things down and truly consider what children at this age seek. They are learning how to engage with their environment and the people important to them. Choose the best educational gifts for under 4s to foster this connection and help them learn to engage with their loved ones and the world around them.