Best Toys for 4-6 years old
Toys for 4- to 6-year-olds (preschoolers and kindergarteners)
Preschoolers and kindergartners have longer attention spans than toddlers. Typically they talk a lot and ask a lot of questions. They like to experiment with things and with their still-emerging physical skills. They like to play with friends—and don’t like to lose! They can take turns—and sharing one toy by two or more children is often possible for older preschoolers and kindergarteners.
Good toys for 4- to 6-year-olds:
- Things for solving problems—puzzles (with 12 to 20+ pieces), blocks that snap together, collections and other smaller objects to sort by length, width, height, shape, color, smell, quantity, and other features—collections of plastic bottle caps, plastic bowls and lids, keys, shells, counting bears, small colored blocks
- Things for pretending and building—many blocks for building complex structures, transportation toys, construction sets, child-sized furniture (“apartment” sets, play food), dress-up clothes, dolls with accessories, puppets and simple puppet theaters, and sand and water play toys
- Things to create with—large and small crayons and markers, large and small paintbrushes and fingerpaint, large and small paper for drawing and painting, colored construction paper, preschooler-sized scissors, chalkboard and large and small chalk, modeling clay and playdough, modeling tools, paste, paper and cloth scraps for collage, and instruments—rhythm instruments and keyboards, xylophones, maracas, and tambourines
- Picture books with even more words and more detailed pictures than toddler books
- CD and DVD players with a variety of music (of course, phonograph players and cassette recorders work too!)
- Things for using their large and small muscles—large and small balls for kicking and throwing/catching, ride-on equipment including tricycles, tunnels, taller climbers with soft material underneath, wagons and wheelbarrows, plastic bats and balls, plastic bowling pins, targets and things to throw at them, and a workbench with a vise, hammer, nails, and saw
- If a child has access to a computer: programs that are interactive (the child can do something) and that children can understand (the software uses graphics and spoken instruction, not just print), children can control the software’s pace and path, and children have opportunities to explore a variety of concepts on several levels
Preschoolers: How They Play
Babies explore objects with the five senses. Toddlers start figuring out how they work. Now, as preschoolers, they’ll use toys and other objects for their intended purpose, yet also will imagine a world of other possibilities for them. A blanket thrown over a coffee table becomes a secret clubhouse. Modeling clay can be used to make pizza pies that you’re asked to “taste.”
For a preschooler, the world becomes a magical place without limits — and preschoolers are the masters and creators of it all. Many kids this age think they have magical powers and can battle “monsters” and win, or turn into a princess, fairy, or other whimsical creature.
Often, your preschooler will pull you into a fantasy and expect you to play along. It’s also during this time that imaginary friends may “appear.” This type of fantasy play is crucial to kids’ development because it helps them work on their fears, anxieties, hopes, and dreams.
The world is also a stage, so expect to hear lots of “mommy, daddy, watch!” as your preschooler learns one new trick after another and seeks your approval and support for new accomplishments. The desire to connect with others extends to friends as preschoolers begin to learn the give-and-take of cooperative play and sharing.
Pretend play becomes more elaborate. Kids’ knowledge of the world is more advanced, so don’t be surprised if your preschooler knows exactly how to work electronic gadgets or make electrical toys (like a radio-controlled car or a video game) work.
Play itself becomes more physical. Why just walk when you can hop, jump, or skip?
Smart Toys for Preschoolers
- Arts and crafts. As fine motor skills improve, activities like holding a crayon, drawing pictures of family members, and using a pair of safety scissors to cut and paste strengthen coordination, encourage creativity, and foster self-esteem.
- Blocks and construction sets. Building a tower (and figuring out how to stop it from toppling over) encourages problem-solving skills and hand–eye coordination. Preschoolers use their imaginations to create buildings, vehicles, animals, and more from simple construction sets.
- Puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles help with coordination and dexterity, and teach about spatial relationships (where things are in relation to other things) and logical thinking.