Updated on April 13, 2020 by Lyric Fergusson
There are never ending opportunities for activities that you can do with your little one and almost as many that they can do alone. Four is a great age to really encourage independent play and give them opportunities to entertain themselves.
Towards the end of the article we also have some helpful suggestions on free activities for 4-year-olds that will keep your little person busy!
21 Engaging Activities for 4-Year-Olds
Flash cards are a fun way for your four-year-old to perfect their knowledge of shapes, colors, letters, and numbers. This is an educational activity that you can do with your child as well as something that they can do on their own.
Leapfrog laptops are an awesome way to let your preschooler learn their letters in a fun and independent way. Working with the buttons is a great way to improve their fine motor skills and your little one will love working on his laptop while you work on yours.
At four, your little one should be able to put together a simple puzzle with around fifty or less pieces. Allowing your preschooler to play with puzzles is a great developmental activity that helps with dexterity, spatial awareness, and cognitive skills. As a bonus, this is something that can be done multiple times without it losing its luster.
Crayons are fun and inexpensive which makes it an ideal learning activity for a lively preschooler. At four, you are able to give them a little more freedom to color without having to worry as much about the mess they will make. It’s a fantastic and easy activity to perfect their fine motor skills and encourage their imagination.
Play dough has endless combinations which not only makes this fun activity entertaining, but also lasting. Your little one can enjoy hours of rolling, shaping, and cutting all the while using their imagination and creativity.
6. Build a Fort
Forts are even more fun at this age than ever before because your preschooler can make it exactly what they want. It becomes a fun place for them to read books, play with stuffed animals, and maybe even take a nap. Fort kits are a fun way to let your child’s imagination really run free because of the endless combinations you can create.
Although this is a fun activity for four-year-old’s, it does require a second player. However, board games are a great learning activity to teach your little one about taking turns and following instructions. They will simply feel like they are playing while they are learning these important life skills.
Music is crucial for children’s development and playing with instruments is a fantastic and stimulating activity for preschoolers. Simply playing some music and allowing your little one to play along with it is a fun way to keep them busy and let them learn at the same time.
At this age, your little one is using their imagination at all times. You can foster that creativity by allowing them to play pretend whether that be chef, doctor, or astronaut. Having toys that your little one can play with to help their imagination is a great way to encourage imaginative play.
Dress up is fun for kids of all ages and four-year-olds are no exception. There are a plethora of different costumes you can let your little one experiment with, and they will enjoy running around playing pretend and dreaming.
11. Build with Legos
Legos are great for both imaginative play and practicing dexterity. The bright colors make this a stimulating activity for preschoolers and they will have fun experimenting with different shapes and structures as they learn more about foundations and building techniques.
Sensory activities are an awesome way to stimulate and entertain your little one. At four, you are able to branch out a little bit with the fillers that you use because you are able to trust that they aren’t going to try to eat it. I love using kinetic sand for sensory bins now that my son is older because it not only acts as a filler but also entertainment in and of itself. All you need to do is throw in some fun toys and your preschooler can enjoy digging and playing.
Bubbles are an awesome way to encourage active play in your four-year-old. In order to make this a hands-off activity for parents, it is important to utilize a bubble machine or toy that your little one can use on their own. For preschool aged kids, these bubble guns are a fun way to let them make their own bubbles without getting frustrated.
Four is the perfect age to really start learning how to write and recognize letters. Letting your little one look at letters and practice writing them on their own is a great educational activity to ensure that they will be well prepared when it comes time to learn the alphabet in preschool or kindergarten.
On warm days, water activities are a great way to entertain your preschooler as well as instantly improve their mood. If you’re able to sit outside within a safe distance from the pool, you can let your little one enjoy splashing in a couple inches of water on their own. When you add some waterproof toys to this activity, it can keep your child happy and entertained for long periods at a time.
Four is generally too young to know how to read entirely on their own, but it’s the perfect age to practice as well as imitate what they see. Flipping pages and looking at the different pictures is a great way to encourage dexterity as well as imagination and it will build good habits for your little one and foster a lifelong love of reading.
Sports are undeniably a wonderful activity for kids, but what you may not realize is that it doesn’t need to be an organized sport for it to be fun. Simply letting your little one play with balls, bats, or hoops in your backyard will be enough to encourage active play and foster a love of sports. T-ball is a great sport that your little one can play entirely on their own so that you can enjoy some time to yourself.
Arts and crafts are more fun than ever before now that your preschooler is old enough to really participate in them. Kid-safe scissor activities are great for practicing dexterity and fine motor skills and it is a great way to let your preschooler have a little bit of freedom and independence.
19. Explore Nature
Curiosity both works with us and against us at this age, but activities that encourage our preschoolers to use that part of their brain can help to harness it in a productive way. A great activity for curious kids is to let them explore nature within your own yard. My son loves to find cool rocks, pretty flowers, and interesting-looking leaves and collect them in a shoebox.
20. Make Puppets
As we mentioned, arts and crafts are an awesome stimulating activity for preschoolers and making puppets is a great way to combine that with imaginative play as they make up a life for their puppet afterwards. Coming up with puppet shows after is another great activity that will last for a long time.
21. Make Marble Art
All you need for this activity is a Ziploc bag, some non-toxic paint, a piece of paper, and a couple of marbles. Just place the paper and a couple dollops of paint into a Ziploc bag, throw the marbles in and let your little one push the marbles around. It creates a cool effect on the paper and it’s a non-messy way to let your preschooler finger paint.
7 Free Activities for Four-Year-Olds
If you are looking for activities that don’t require any additional supplies or if you want something that you can do with no notice, we have included some activities that you can do with items around your house.
1. Practice Letters
A simple way to let your preschooler practice recognizing and writing their letters is to just take a piece of paper and write an uppercase letter on it and then let your little one copy it. You can also do this activity with numbers depending on what you are working on.
2. Build a Fort
You can build a fort just using items around your home whether that be couch cushions, blankets, sheets, or kitchen chairs. You can let your preschooler experiment with different shapes and structures and then they can enjoy reading or playing in their own private room.
3. Make Your Own Playdough
If you don’t want to purchase playdough, you can make it with a few simple ingredients. All you will need is flour, cream of tartar, water, food coloring, oil, and salt and simply mix the wet ingredients and dry ingredients separately. After they’ve been mixed separately, you combine the two and cook over medium heat until it resembles the correct texture. Then you can store it in an airtight container for endless fun!
4. Help with Chores
While this may seem like it would not be a fun activity, you might be surprised with how much your little one enjoys doing what they see you do. While doing housework, you can give your preschooler a damp cloth and ask them to clean something in the room you’re working in. Not only is this a great way to teach them to follow instructions, it also encourages them to learn life skills at a young age!
5. Have a Scavenger Hunt
You can create a scavenger hunt list, complete with pictures, and let your little one run around your house and find objects. If you can write the list on durable paper, this is an activity that can be repeated over and over again. It is a great way to teach your preschooler to follow directions and complete tasks.
6. Have a Dance Party
If you’re okay with a little extra noise in your home, you can hold a dance party for your little one. Music in general is a wonderful developmental activity and your preschooler might even come up with some unique and creative instruments while they jam out.
7. Make a Self Portrait
All you will need for this is a piece of paper, a mirror, and some sort of drawing utensils. You can set your little one up in front of the mirror and encourage them to draw themselves by what they see in their reflection. This is a great learning activity to encourage them to look at their own face and recognize parts of it while honing the fine motor skills necessary to draw details. Just be prepared that they will probably also use their imaginations and add details like rainbow hair or a third eye!
While it may be a daunting task to try to entertain an active and lively four-year-old while also trying to do all of the things that you need to accomplish in a day, that doesn’t mean it is impossible. It may even prove to be a fun challenge as you and your preschooler learn and play together and also as they learn how to self soothe and play independently. One or more of the activities on the list would be a great way to get started and help you figure out the best ways to entertain your little one while maintaining your sanity.