How your 4-year-old might play now

    • With a longer attention span, a new activity can keep him engaged for extended periods
    • She can learn to swim, skate, dance, ski and bounce on a trampoline
    • He can explain something that happened when you weren't there
    • She begins to grasp that people have different experiences and feelings than she does
    • As coordination improves, he can use the monkey bars at the playground, walk along a curb, and dodge when he's chased
    • She is starting to add details to her drawings
    • He may print his name on his artwork
    • Her gait is more grown-up
Creative activities
  • crawlerImg

    Kid-Tough™ Doodler Clip-on

Help your child learn more:

    • Take-along. If the toy is portable, bring it with you any time your child may have a wait in store or on long car rides to help pass the time.
    • Follow directions. Make sure your child understands how to use the toy and its accessories. Read the directions and test it out together until your child is comfortable using it on her own.
    • Scene starters. Offer your child a "scene starter" for artwork: "Can you draw a picture of Grandma? … If you were to invent a robot, what would it look like?"
    • A colorful world. Use your child's interest in art as an opportunity to talk about different colors. Find examples of complimentary and clashing colors. Use paints to show how two different colors mixed together produce a new color.
    • Tour an art gallery or museum with your child. Let her critique the work, telling you what she likes best about it. See if the museum offers any kid-friendly activities.
Role-play toys
  • crawlerImg

    Drillin’ Action Tool Set™

  • crawlerImg

    Medical Kit w/Red Bag

Help your baby learn more:

    • What do they do? If your child's interested in a particular occupation or theme, feed that curiosity. Visit the library or go online and research together. Attend shows or demonstrations at local grocery stores, home and garden centers, or fair grounds.
    • Two heads are better than one. When you and your child put your imaginations together, you'll be amazed at how much more realistic and fun your play will become. If your toy is a medical kit, create an area for the doctor's office or hospital. Make a sign for the door, "The doctor is in." Gather willing patients (dolls and stuffed animals are always in need of a check-up). Put magazines and a chair in your waiting room, with a play phone for the receptionist.
    • Get them started. If your child needs a few play prompts to get the idea, be the receptionist or nurse and suggest "problems" for her to solve. "Mrs. Johnson isn't feeling well. Can you see her right away?"
    • Take turns being doctor and patient with your child, and listen carefully to what he says in each role. You'll gain new insight, and he'll gain new confidence!
    • Point things out on a real trip to the doctor's office—the stethoscope, the otoscope, the blood pressure cuff. When you get home, you can use your child's toy medical kit to further explain what the instruments are used for.
    • What’s for lunch? With a play kitchen ask: "What will you make?" "What will you put in your soup?" "Do you have to go grocery shopping first?" Help measure, mix and pour.

Box Car

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A simple box can turn a child into a creative genius who can learn to do wonderful things with his mind and body!


  • Large box about half the size of your child
  • Scissors or X-acto knife
  • Duct tape
  • Washable markers, crayons, paint, stickers, decals, fringe, and other decorative materials
  • Book about cars and trucks


  • Read a book about cars and trucks together and study the pictures.
  • Cut the top and bottom off a large box, leaving the sides intact.
  • Use duct tape to cover any rough edges and to reinforce corners, if needed.
  • Help your child decorate the outside of the box to look like a car or truck using felt-tip pens, paint, stickers, and so on.
  • When the car is finished, let your child take a drive around the house or yard.
  • For added fun, set up roads by laying down rope as a guide, and set up stop signs along the route.


Use caution with the scissors or X-acto knife with your child close by.

Tips: Why Play Is So Important

Play helps children learn about themselves and their understandings of their expanding physical and social worlds. Play gives children opportunities to figure out how things work, how to get along with others and to try on new role Read More