Top toys & activities my 4 year old actually plays with...
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If your house looks anything like my house, then you have toys upon toys upon toys. Like the toy apocalypse. Jack is the first grandson and nephew for my parents and my brother, so I’m sure you can only imagine. While I am grateful for all that they have done and given to my children, it is starting to get difficult for our military moves with “all the things.” And I can’t even blame it all on them! I’ve bought “all the things” too! I’ve done several purges and given some toys he has outgrown or doesn’t play with to children in need. (That is actually a great activity to do with your little ones to teach about gratitude and giving back).
I digress - so I thought I would compile a list of the toys my 4 year old actually uses and that sustain his attention for a long period of time. Disclaimer - I use that age number on the box of toys as a recommendation, although I mostly agree with it. I would recommend the toys in this list to children ranging in age from 3-6, but use your own discretion.
Here it goes….
Pretend Play - Now I realize this is kind of a broad category; however, this is Jack’s favorite thing to do. Even at parent-teacher conferences, his teacher commented that Jack likes to run the show at the pretend play area. He LOVES it. I don’t think you quite understand his LOVE for it, until you see him in the thick of it.
Now, our collection of pretend play is expansive. He loves play food. We should buy stock in Melissa & Doug. They have the cutest sets and I don’t think he could pick a favorite. We have the coffee maker , toaster , sushi set , pasta set , pots & pans , etc. He just added the cute little cleaning set to his collection. I’m currently watching him set up a picnic on the floor for us! (No school today, yippeee!! cough sarcasm cough)
Pretend play also includes dress up. And dress up is not just for girls. I hate that a lot of toys are split up into girl toys and boy toys. Why does it matter? Boys can play with dolls and girls can play with trucks! Jack likes to combine all the dress up and make one crazy outfit. Dress up is great for imaginative play, and unlocks creativity and exploration. Plus, they learn how to put clothes on. This is an important life skill!
Play-doh - Now I am not one of those hero moms that makes their own play doh or buys that expensive organic play doh (did you even know they had that?) I mean more power to ya if you take the time to do that or can afford organic play-doh. But that’s the thing about play-doh, it doesn’t last forever. They will end up mixing it together or leaving the top off. You can only roll up play-doh so many times before it dries out. And I’m pretty sure I played with the regular old Play-doh when I was little, and I’m alive and kicking! (Although, I do have a super easy recipe for homemade play doh if you would like it!) We have a bunch of different accessories and kits that go with it. But you can also just find some cheap cookie cutters or letters/numbers at Michaels or The Dollar Store. He will sit and play with play-doh for a good chunk of time. Win-win!
Again, this is a great activity that fosters creativity and independence. Until I hear those words “I’m hungry.” My husband is not the biggest fan of messy activities, but I don’t think the clean up is too bad after. We also bring the little mini tubs on the go sometimes for restaurants or other outings!
Blocks - Again, their is a wide range of types of blocks. There isn’t one in particular that he loves way more than others. So I’ll talk about the ones he plays with most. Obviously, Legos. He is really starting to get into the themed ones and we are slowly getting the sets with smaller pieces (#wearshoesaroundlegos). We started with Mega Blocks , then Duplo , and then moved on to the Juniors around Christmas time last year. I don’t think he is quite ready for the really small blocks, although he has a couple that we have to help him put together. Have you seen the new Harry Potter sets! OMG! I can’t wait until he is ready for those. I’m pretty sure Legos will be in his rotation for a long time to come. He loves to build and then uses them for pretend play. Great for developing fine motor skills! I have also recently seen a new line of blocks at Walmart called Max Build More. They are substantially cheaper than other brands, so we'll have to try them soon.
He likes his Magformers set as well. Now, I bought the set he has on Lightning Deal on Amazon. I would never, ever pay full price for these or those expensive magnet tiles. I just don’t understand the hefty price tag. We have not personally tried some of the other more affordable sets, but I think I might get him a set of the Picasso Tiles for Christmas this year. They sell them on Amazon and Zulily. I have heard that they are just as good as the more expensive versions. Saving money is always good!
Drawing - I am just blown away at how much Jack’s drawing and writing has improved over the past 2 months. Watching your little ones mature and grow is one of the greatest joys of parenthood. At least for me. Jack loves to color, draw, paint, or anything in between. I bought a makeup organizer to put all of his crayons and markers in and it has been so useful! Another tip: just use a composition book or one subject spiral notebook for them to color in. He likes coloring books, but he enjoys just a plain piece of paper more and he can draw whatever he would like. I will also buy little accessories like smiley faces, eyeballs, pouf balls, or pipe cleaners at The Dollar Store. Really whatever I can find! When we go out to dinner, we usually just bring his composition book and sleeve of markers. Easy!
Leap Frog - Jack loves that thing. We have the Leap Frog Leap Start , and I love that it is kind of “technology,” but it also teaches him at the same time! There are so many different books that you can put in the system, you just plug the Leap Frog into your computer and upload them from their website. This is also a great travel item and he uses it in the car sometimes.
Leap Frog Leap Start
Jack seen here playing with the Leap Frog system. He has several books to choose from and they are easy to interchange. New books are definitely on his Christmas list!
Well, there you have it! Jack’s favorite things at the moment. It will probably change next week knowing him.
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