Fresh off toddlerhood, 4-year-olds are blossoming into fully independent kids with lots of opinions. They've got their own interests and ideas and won't hesitate to tell you exactly what they want as gifts. However, helpful as that may be, they're also fickle little characters who change their minds every half hour. So it's smart to do a bit of your own research, right?

The best Christmas gifts for 4-year-olds allow them to get lost in their creativity and imagination. They're more independent now and providing them with toys and projects they can master on their own is a gift to both of you really. (I mean, what's better than 30 minutes of peace and quiet with a cup of coffee that's actually still hot?)

If choosing the best gift has you stressed, don't sweat. We've rounded up some top-rated, tried-and-true toys and gifts that your preschooler is sure to love–even if it wasn't on the list. From the outdoor equipment that gets them moving to STEM based toys that boost their brains, these are our top picks for four-year-olds this holiday season.

Our favorite Christmas gifts for 4-year-olds

Starry Night Air Fort

Uncommon Goods

$60

Starry Night Air Fort

When you’re four, is there a better place to hang than in your own cozy fort? Not really. This dreamy design uses a standard box fan to inflate in seconds and features glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling for an extra dash of magic. It’s also machine washable!

She Spoke Voices of Inspirational Women Sound Book

Uncommon Goods

$25

She Spoke

She Spoke is a fun and engaging way to introduce 4-year-olds to real life superheroes. Through gorgeous illustrations, sharp profiles and button-activated recordings and speeches of 14 legendary women, kids will be inspired to speak up and be heard. What’s more, it includes useful prompts to help identify ways to help in your own community.

Lifetime Geometric Dome Climber Play Center

Lifetime

$200

Geometric Dome Climber

This climbing dome has multiple five-star reviews, and will likely bring back joyful childhood memories for you as your child climbs, swings, and jumps from this structure. Although this requires a good amount of space in a yard—it is 9 feet in diameter and 4.5 feet high—reviewers say it has replaced large play structures in their yard and gets just as much use. The climbing activities this lends to can help improve a child’s spatial awareness, sense of balance, and motor skills—you may even find that the interior of the dome makes for a great playhouse, too!

Super Smalls Opening Night Play Shoes

Super Smalls

$36

Opening Night Play Shoes

If your dress-up obsessed preschooler gets more use out of your heels than you do these days, they’ll be delighted to open these bad boys. They’re bejeweled, sparkly and made just for them!

Mudpuppy African Safari Search and Find Puzzle

Mudpuppy

$16.99

Search & Find 64-Piece Puzzle

The 64-piece Search & Find puzzles from Mudpuppy offer preschoolers two challenges. First they have to flex their problem solving skills to put it together. When they’re done, they can use their eagle eyes to find 40+ animals, insects and plants that surround the puzzle edge. Choose from variety of animal themes.

Raddish Kids

Cooking and Baking Kits

Got a budding chef on your hands? With Raddish Kids, the all-ages cooking club, each month’s themed box contains three recipe guides and culinary skill lessons, grocery list, quality kitchen tool, creative kitchen project, a colorful apron patch and four table talk cards (great for getting a conversation going around the dinner table). They also offer free “bonus bites” on the website with things like extra recipes and playlists to inspire your little chef as they cook up a storm. You can also check out their single kits or even opt for a cook-along kit that includes exclusive access to a cook-along class taught by a Raddish Culinary Coach. Prices vary.

Crayola

$11.99

Spill-Proof Washable Paint

Love arts and crafts time but stress about the mess? Crayola, the brand that’s conquered washable art supplies for decades just released one of the coolest products yet. Spill-proof, washable and easy-to-use, their brand new paints can be used with or without water to create all kinds of masterpieces. (Seriously, you can turn it all the way upside down and, NOTHING. Not a drip.)

Flybar

$13.99

My First Foam Pogo Jumper

My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord “stick” is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don’t let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

LEGO Build Together

LEGO

$99

Build Together

While we love a good themed LEGO kit, we’ve found that our 4-year-olds get the most joy and use out of a plain ‘ol pile of colorful bricks. This new set is a great way to start their collection with a wide selection of shapes and sizes that are not only pre-sorted by color, but can easily be stored in the box between play sessions. There are endless ways to create and plenty of bricks for the entire crew to get in on a family build session.

Wonder & Wise by Asweets

$59

Dino Doorway Beanbag Toss Game

Stuck indoors? No worries! This doorway beanbag toss is the perfect thing to set up on a snowy afternoon. (And bonus! It doesn’t take up much space when playtime is over.)

Creativity For Kids

$15.99

Construction Zone Playset

This ready-made sensory bin comes with everything your construction-loving kiddo needs to entertain themselves for hours. When they’re done, just snap the lid back on and store for next time. Honestly, I’d pay double. (And if diggers and dump trucks aren’t thing, they offer a bunch of different themes that are sure to please.)

Janod

$14.99

Magnetibook Crazy Face Dress Up Game

Preschoolers will have a blast creating hundreds of hilarious faces with this magnetic set from Janod. With 12 face cards and 70 pieces, they can flex their creativity and work on fine motor skills while having fun. We also love that it’s all contained in its own book shaped box which makes it convenient to take on-the-go and easy to store on the bookshelf.

(It also comes in a girl version as well!)

Maileg

$28.99

Superhero Mouse in Suitcase

The most adorable gift for kiddos who love imaginary play, Maileg’s tiny Superhero Mouse is ready to become their pocket-sized BFF. Clad in an adorable cape and mask, this little fella comes in their own little adventure-ready suitcase.

national-geographic-kids-chimpanzee-care-vet

National Geographic Kids

$31.99

Chimpanzee Care & Nurture Vet Set

Vets-in-training will go bananas for this educational and interactive toy from National Geographic Kids. The plush chimp makes sounds when its paw, chest and mouth are “examined,” and there’s a deeper opportunity for learning when you scan the QR code to access exclusive NGK content.

Kidpik

$56

Holiday Gift Box

If you’ve got a budding fashionista on your hands, they’re guaranteed to love the rad selections from Kidpik. Choose from a variety of fabulously curated boxes that contain everything they need to look fresh from head-to-toe. What’s easier and more fashionable than that?

Prices start at $56

VTech

$44.44

Marble Rush Ultimate Set Marble Run Building Set

With 145 pieces that can connect together in endless combinations, this colorful marble run is bound to get their wheels turning. A spinning Ferris wheel, a swirling cone that plays a musical light show, thrilling ramps, fast tracks, extreme launchers and bases can be used as they follow instructions for exciting builds or they can flex their creative muscles to design something all their own.

Magna-Tiles

$110

Metropolis

Whether your kiddo is already Magna-Tile obsessed or you’re just discovering their magic, this 110-piece set is going to be hours of fun. With some new shapes like a spinner, windows and quarter circles along with a collection of standards they can build everything from city scapes to vehicles and experiment with countless ways to play.

plan-toys-detective-set

Plan Toys

$40

Detective Set

Playing detective is a fun game at any age, but especially in this age’s wheelhouse. Kids will love to test their research skills as they try to locate the missing cat in town.

Goliath

$19.99

Banana Blast Game

If your child has trouble picking up small things, try playing this game to strengthen hand and eye coordination. It’s a short enough game that even young kids are able to maintain attention and focus through everyone’s turn.

cubcoats

Cubcoats

$64

Convertible Kids Clothes

Cubcoats are super cute as toys and as clothing—yep, you read that right. This is a fleece that folds up into a stuffed animal you child can take anywhere. Bonus points for being machine-washable, ethically made and having tons of character and animal options to choose from.

Hanna Andersson

$35

Critter Slippers

Comfy slippers are always a win in our book. And just as Hanna Andersson has nailed the pajama game, their slippers are a home run as well. They’re cozy, cute and come in a variety of kid-friendly styles.

baseball-sheet-set

Peggy van Neer and Erik van Loo

$119

MLB Baseball Player Duvet & Pillowcase Set

When they’re this fun, you can totally get away with gifting something as practical as bedsheets. The awesome photographic prints let kiddos drift off to dreamland as a baseball star, princess or even an astronaut. Each set comes with a pillow case and duvet cover made from 100% Okeo-Tex certified cotton.

Tubbs

$49.95

Snowball Snow Shoes

Make tromping around in the snow a true adventure! These snowshoes are ideal for little ones and are blessedly easier to put on than cramming their feet into ski boots.

Wonder and Wise

$69

Good Wood Mini Golf Game

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or keep them entertained when it’s too cold or rainy to brave the outdoors.

Micro Kickboard

$94

Mini Deluxe Scooter

Whether you’re zipping through city streets or riding up and down your suburban driveway, a good scooter is a must-have for outdoor fun. Our top pick is the genius three-wheeled designs from Micro Kickboard. Not only are they super easy for even the smallest daredevils to master, but they’re made to last and hand down. It’s a great way for little ones to improve their balance and coordination while also having a blast!

Thousand

$60

Thousand Jr. Helmet

With the guidance of over 100 kids, Thousand created a helmet that every kid will not only tolerate wearing, but ask to wear even when they’re not on wheels. Each helmet includes a pack of super cool reflective stickers so they can easily customize it to their own personal style. As far as fit, it comes in one size and adjusts via a dial at the base of the head. Details like the integrated visor, comfy vegan leather straps and extra ventilation are the icing on the cake.

KidKraft

$350

Outdoor Wooden Playhouse

This one is spendy for sure, but a sturdy, beautiful playhouse is an investment that will pay off in years of imaginative play for everyone from young toddlers to school-aged kiddos. This one is large enough for several children yet compact enough to work in even tiny backyard spaces. It’s made from 100% cedar wood and features several large built-in windows, an attached picnic table and benches, a working door, and even a chalkboard.

A version of this story was published October 10, 2020. It has been updated.