It’s never too late to get started on your child’s education. The first five years of a child’s life are crucial for brain development. Children in this age group learn faster than they ever will again, and the situations they experience will have a life-long impact on their health, personality, happiness, and personal achievements.
After learning how crucial this period is for our children, it makes sense that we would want to introduce our 4-year-olds to the best educational toys available. To help you choose only the best for your child, we reviewed tons of educational toys and picked out our five favorites:
What could be a better STEM toy for a 4-year-old than their very own lab? This interactive toy by Little Tikes has everything your child needs to be their own little scientists. This experiment station has over 20 lab accessories, including maze pieces, an eyedropper, stirring spoons, and lab goggles. It also includes a visual guide with 20 different fun experiments that use everyday household items. With some baking soda and dish soap, you can introduce your child to the fun of science!
This toy also comes with a circuit center, which allows children to play with completing and disconnecting circuits. When the circuit is complete, the lights activate. Children can practice their engineering skills with the ball maze or stir up some science with the lab beakers. With over 40 sounds and interactions, this toy teaches children while also keeping them entertained. Because this toy involves much interaction, it is a great STEM toy for boys who can’t sit still.
Teaching your 4-year-old math can be understandably frustrating! Luckily, the Monkey Balance Cool Math Game by CoolToys makes math fun and teaches necessary math skills to preschoolers. The basic premise of this game is to balance out both sides of the monkey scale. It comes with numbers 1 through 10 and 19 monkeys. Putting three monkeys on one side of the scale and the number “3” on the other will make the scale balance. In this way, children gain a one-to-one correspondence when counting. In other words, this game teaches them that the number “3” stands for three physical objects. Because this is a foundational math skill, we highly recommend this product for all 4-year-olds.
As your child ages and accomplishes new skills, you can use the cards provided with this game to increase the difficulty. In all, three difficulties lead your child from recognizing numbers to simple addition. The cute graphics and exciting colors are designed to hold your child’s attention while also teaching them these foundational math skills.
Geology is an often-over-looked science. However, the importance of Geology is growing, and what child doesn’t love rocks? This educational kit allows children to get their hands dirty and hunt for precious gems. It includes at least eight individual crystals, a drawstring pouch for storage, and a variety of mini excavation tools.
Children will be able to search and excavate their very own crystal, which can then be examined with a magnifying glass and displayed. This excavation is done by cutting into a plaster rock, which contains the gems, and by using the included brush to clean each gemstone off. The crystals are quite large, especially when compared to other kits in this price range. A short identification card helps children identify and learn about each crystal they unearth.
Most 4-year-olds can independently do this activity. The tools are safe to use, and there are no specific directions that must be read and followed. This is a great kit to give your children while you take care of the housework or catch up on some much-needed relaxation. This is a fabulous STEM toy for girls who are more on the “girly” side and like sparkly gemstones.
Marble runs are an excellent way to teach children the problem-solving and creativity skills required in many STEM professions. Even children as young as four can benefit from a marble run. This set by Beebeerun was our favorite for a couple of reasons. It comes with 105 different pieces. There are many kinds of parts as well, so your child will have more opportunities for creativity. This set is also open-ended enough for it to develop as your child grows. Built from a simple construction that uses only a few pieces to three-foot-tall structures, this is a toy that can truly grow and evolve with your child.
We also liked that this toy was easy to use as a group. Children can work together to build a massive track or race marbles down two separate tracks together. For homes with more than one child, this great all-purpose toy can bring hours of independent play to your household.
Learning about the natural world is one of the first forms of science that children encounter. Introduce your child to the science of ecosystems and the natural world with this mini terrarium. This kit contains everything your child needs to create a thriving ecosystem, including an appropriately-sized jar, soil, step-by-step instruction booklet, blue sand, and seeds. It also includes a small bunny and mushrooms for your child to decorate their new terrarium with. The plants are chosen to grow quickly, and the LED light creates a glow-like effect at night – a truly magical scene that your children will remember for years.
On top of teaching your children about natural science, this display also helps integrate responsibility and patience into your child’s life. They will have to water the terrarium each day and watch as the plants slowly sprout and then turn into a wild jungle.
Which STEM Toy Should I Get?
Short answer: as many as you can. Children can never have too many STEM toys, especially if they are rotated in and out every week or so. Each of the toys on this list brings something unique to the table.
However, if you have to choose one, we recommend letting your child help pick! Children tend to like things more when they’ve helped pick them out. If this isn’t possible for whatever reason, the Little Tikes STEM Jr. Wonder Lab Toy was our favorite because of its versatility and would make an excellent choice for any child. Children can get a lot of open-ended and guided play with this educational toy, while learning to conduct experiments as a miniature scientist!