Editor’s Picks: Toys for 3-4 Year Olds
Below are our editor’s picks for preschooler (3-4yrs) toys by subcategory:
Note: Our editors developed this list by summarizing TotScoop parent favorites and adding a few hand-picked editor favorites and new releases. Our picks are 100% unbiased — we never accept compensation in exchange for coverage. That said, this page may contain affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small commission on any purchases that you make (at no cost to you); see our full disclosure.
You may also be interested in the following related guides:
Building & activity toys
Building & activity toys are a favorite among preschoolers. For kids that are still mouthing things, avoid small pieces and look for non-toxic finishes. Here are some of our favorites.
Our top pick for an open-ended building set are colorful and high-quality Magna-Tiles. They appeal to both boys and girls and are perfect for building 3-D designs on flat surfaces. Budding engineers will enjoy hours of creative play building skyscrapers, jet planes, houses, and so much more. For those on a budget, check out the also popular Magformers as an alternative.
Lego Duplo is a staple among preschool building sets. The fun and colorful My First Deluxe Box of Fun is a perfect starting point for any collection. The set features a large range of classic and special Duplo bricks, including decorated number bricks to encourage counting. Also included in the set are a wagon base, window and door elements, and two child Duplo figures.
If you prefer toys made of all-natural materials, :Tegu blocks are made from blonde hardwood and incorporate magnets for easy building. This imagination-inspiring set includes 20 cube pieces, 16 long planks, 10 short planks, and 6 jumbo planks. Little minds are sure to enjoy creating with this magical set for many years to come.
Lacing activities are great for preschoolers (and are even doable by some two year olds) as they really challenge kids to develop fine motor skills. Depending what kind you get, the finished products can potentially also be used as dress-up necklaces or bracelets as well! We love this handmade, classic lacing beads set from Etsy seller MamaMayI. If they're out of stock or you're in a time crunch, also check out the popular mainstream sets Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Lacing Beads and ALEX Toys Little Hands String a Farm.
Imagination plays an important role in childhood development and should be nurtured. Pretend play sets are a great way to spark preschoolers’ imagination and get their creative juices flowing. Play kitchens and play food, such as those that we recommended in our guide Best Toys for Two Year Olds, continue to be staples for three and four year olds. Some of our other favorites in this category are featured below.
A barn is a staple for pretend play, and this highly-rated wooden option from Melissa & Doug opens up for play, yet stores compactly and can be carried from room to room. It comes with several animals, but some parents complain that they aren't top quality, so you may want to supplement (see our top recommendation directly below). For an alternative to the Melissa & Doug barn, also check out the very nice Terra Wooden Horse Barn.
Whether to supplement a barn set or for standalone play, you can't beat the quality and realism of these animal figures from Schleich. They offer a crazy range of figures spanning African animals, farm animals, horses, dinosaurs, and more.
This colorful wooden dollhouse from Hape features four rooms across three different levels for variety play. The open face style of the dollhouse allows ease of play from every angle. Made with non-toxic finishes, this fun and durable dollhouse is available furnished or non-furnished. For smaller spaces or travel, we also love the Sago Mini portable playset.
We love Djeco products, and this pop-up castle is no exception. Made of paperboard, it's sturdy and will hold up to loads of swashbuckling play, yet folds flat and stores away compactly. It is sized perfectly for play with Papo knight figurines.
This gorgeous teepee from Land of Nod is a great option for providing young children with a fun space of their own, while still looking great in your living room or playroom. It is made from durable, 100% cotton canvas material and solid bamboo poles, and is available in several different colors/patterns.
This wonderful pair of dress-up butterfly wings, designed for ages 3+, attaches with elastic straps around the shoulders and small loops around fingers. They're available in a variety of colors, and a matching mask is also available.
Superhero lovers of all sizes will be thrilled with this costume set featuring some of their favorite superheroes. Little imaginations will revel in choosing which superhero they wish to be each day: Superman, Iron Man, Batman, or Spiderman. In addition to a cape and mask for each superhero, this value set also comes with three sheets of stickers and one sheet of tattoos as an added bonus.
Not only will this doctor kit keep your little one busy, but it will also have the added bonus of making the doctor's office seem that much less scary! It comes with nine tools, including a stethoscope with heartbeat sound and beeper with light and sound. Another popular doctor kit option (with more pieces) is the Learning Resources Pretend & Play Doctor Set.
Playing “store” is a popular pastime with preschoolers, and no store is complete without a cash register. This one from Learning Resources is a real working, solar-powered toy that encourages little minds to learn basic math as well as introduces them to money skills. Young children will find the large buttons easy to push and will get a kick out of the “cha-ching” sound the register makes when it is opened. The set includes the cash register, 30 pretend bills, 40 plastic coins, a pretend credit card, and an activity guide.
Ride-ons & outdoor play
Ride-ons and toys geared toward outdoor play are a great way to encourage preschool children to ditch the electronics and spend time outside in the fresh air. Scooters and balance bikes continue to be good choices for this age group. Some of our favorite picks in this category include:
The innovative PlasmaCar utilizes the power of inertia to move. Young children use their own movements to propel the car, without pedals or buttons. This is a great pick for parents who don’t want the fuss of dealing with battery operated toys. Children have so much fun cruising around on this great toy that they don’t even realize they are exercising as they do it.
Our favorite authoritative resource for selecting the best balance bike for your child's particular age and height is Two Wheeling Tots, and their top pick for preschoolers in 2T+ pants is the Saracen Freewheel. The bike is manufactured using industry standard components for durability and the seat is adjustable to grow with your child. For those looking for a bike that is a bit more budget friendly, the Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike is a popular choice among preschool aged children as well, however, your child may outgrow it around four years old.
Two Wheeling Tots’ top balance bike pick for older or taller preschoolers (fitting 3T-4T pants) is the Ridgeback Scoot. The seat on this sturdy balance bike can be adjusted from 14” to 20”, making it perfectly proportioned for children aged 3-6. The sturdy aluminum frame distinguishes this bike from a toy &madsh; it is built to last.
The Micro Kickboard Mini Micro Scooter is the quality choice in three-wheeled scooters for children aged 2-5. The scooter’s deck is low to the ground to make it easy for young kids to get on and off, and it is also big enough for two feet for when they want to cruise. For those on a budget, the Razor Jr. Folding Kiddie Kick Scooter is available as a cheaper alternative.
Beginning batters will love the easy-to-use Little Tikes TotSports T-Ball Set. This set comes with an adjustable T-ball stand so that it can adapt to your child as he grows. It also features a hang-on-the-wall design for easy, out of the way storage. This set is a great way for your little slugger to work on his batting skills, motor skills, and coordination while getting exercise.
As three and four year olds prepare for entering Kindergarten, encouraging learning is a must. Here are some of our top picks for educational toys:
This magnetic color-sorting maze is a great way to help children build fine motor skills and boost color recognition. The magnetic wand is a fun way for kids to move the colorful balls around the maze. In addition to motor skills and color recognition, this fun toy also teaches children sorting skills.
The impressive, kid-friendly LeapFrog LeapPad3 Kids' Learning Tablet features front and back cameras, an eReader, music player, motion sensor, 5-inch touchscreen, and 4GB of memory. The touchscreen is shatter safe and the LeapSearch feature makes sure that children only access kid friendly videos and material on the web. The tablet has been thoroughly drop tested to allow for worry-free learning.
The Kindle Fire HD 6 Kids Edition is our splurge pick in children's tablets. This tablet comes in a protective casing that makes it shatter-proof against little hands. It also comes with a warranty and a range of parental controls to help parents manage what their children can and can’t do on the web.
The Little Hands Ready, Set, School interactive play set from Alex Toys is a great building skill set for preschool aged children. With this set, young children learn to cut with safety scissors, tie their shoe, write the alphabet, and more. A Parents Choice Recommended Award winner, the set includes 4 wipe-away books and a marker, 8 crayons, safety scissors, 2 stencils, 15 activity pages, 75 stickers, shoelace, and an instruction sheet.
Preschoolers love arts and crafts and painting and coloring continue to be favorite activities for this age group. This is also the perfect age to begin introducing board and card games, which can be great family bonding activities. Our top picks in this category are:
This award-winning cooperative board game, designed for kids ages 3+, encourages players to work together to help Mother Hen find her chicks and get them back safely to their coop. It requires no reading skills, and develops counting and social development skills. Also check out Hoot Owl Hoot! for another similar game from Peaceable Kingdom.
Kids love the "squirrel game," in which players race to fill their logs with one acorn of each color. It develops motor skills (players use tongs to manipulate the acorns), reinforces color recognition, and teaches kids to deal with disappointment (when they're forced to skip their turn, or lose all of their acorns).
Richard Scarry fans shouldn't hesitate to get this game, which is great fun in its own right. Designed for ages 3+, it's a cooperative game in which players race to get to Picnic Island at the other end of town before the pigs eat all of their food! Along the way, you'll have the opportunity to draw cards and search together as a team for the objects on them (Where's Waldo style) : the more objects you find, the more spaces everybody gets to advance!
This reinvention of the classic game "Memory" features gorgeous nature-inspired illustrations by Melissa Sweet. The tiles are thick, high-quality cardstock. Great not only for developing a preschooler's memory, but also for exercising a frazzled Mom brain!
The Kickstarter phenomenon Robot Turtles is a board game that teaches pre-coding skills (including making a series of commands, debugging, and creating a function) to 4+ year olds. You configure up the board to position jewels (the objectives) and barriers in various places, and your child (the "turtle master") commands the turtles to go straight, turn left, turn right, or melt an obstacle in front of him. Kids love it, and don't even realize they're building a great STEM foundation! It's also great for reinforcing left/right recognition.
Arts & crafts
The well-rounded Crayola Inspiration Art Case is perfect for young budding artists. The portable art case makes it easy to keep the supplies organized in one place. The set comes with 140 pieces, featuring crayons, colored pencils, markers, and drawing paper.
The Melissa & Doug Deluxe Standing Easel makes the perfect easel for painting, coloring, and lettering. The easel folds for easy storage, is height adjustable, and features a dry erase board, chalkboard, locking paper-roll holder, child-safe paper cutter, easy-clip grips, and 2 large plastic trays that are removable for easy cleaning.