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4-5 year old gift guide

A list of age-appropriate toys for the child around four (roughly 3.5 to 4.5yrs). I tried to choose a variety of toys and books, keeping in mind that often children of the same age will be at different developmental stages. Also, this is just a guide with some ideas, each toy is just an example, there are similar ones in other shapes, sizes and materials that are just as age-appropriate. Please note that this list builds on the 3-year-old one. I repeated some items here, but all the pretend play items found on the earlier list are still appropriate and fun for this age group.


Mobilo. Set of 120 pieces. Great manipulative toy, very engaging and totally open-ended, each child will create completely different structures. Builds small muscles, enhances eye-hand coordination, perfects spatial relations... This is a good starter set, but be aware that it will soon not have enough pieces for all they will want to build.

A nice large set of pattern blocks minus the pattern cards which I feel only frustrate young children and limit the possibilities of what they can create (although they can be a spring board for some children). On their own, pattern blocks can be used by each child at their own level to create endless patterns.

Alphabet Stamp Set. When the interest in print kicks in, stamps are a fun toy and a simple way to become familiar with the shapes of the letters.

Ostheimer wooden figures. Great for the blocks, for the Nativity, by themselves... A little animal collection will be much used, for example.

Wooden road set. My students can't get enough of these, if given enough pieces, the roads can take over the classroom.

A few old necklaces (you know, the kind that never sees the outside of you jewelry box) are perfect for the dress-up trunk.

A trunk filled with pieces of fabric, hats, necklaces and scarves will provide hours of entertainment. There are plenty to be found in thrift stores. Wicker ones are less expensive.

A doll with hair that can be styled and dolls that can be changed is perfect at this age. Boys might be starting to walk away from dolls and will play mostly with the small wooden ones that can be used with block buildings and a dollhouse.

Small wooden dolls are perfect for block or dollhouse play. If you are purchasing for a dollhouse, just make sure they are the right size to fit.

A simple wooden dollhouse will be much played with. Just today I saw a few of my boys in the classroom playing there for 45 minutes with their animals.

Animal Sets. Good size for block play and good quality. Safari has other sets of this size (ocean, farm...).

Middle Eastern Block Set. Haba has several architectural sets (arabian, middle eastern...) that are great additions to a set of standard unit blocks. But be aware that not all makers of blocks use the same base measure and some of the pieces will not "fit" with other brands.