Pretend play is an essential part of a child’s development – just ask these researchers and studies! These benefits vary from something as simple as “learning about themselves and the world” to developing “important complex social and higher order thinking skills”. While it may seem that playing with a fake phone is just a fun waste of time, it’s actually helping your 4-year-old become the person you want him to be.
Thankfully, fostering “pretend play” really isn’t that hard for parents. Honestly, kids will make do with anything (sticks and mud work in a pinch), but that doesn’t mean we can’t help them along in their developmental journey! Adding some toys to your repertoire that your kids can pretend play with is a sure way to keep them happy, developing, and your walls free of any Sharpie (not guaranteed). Check out our list of the best Pretend Play Toys for 4-Year-Old Boys.
Our Favorite Pretend Play Toys For 4 Year Old Boys
We’ve all seen these growing up, and it makes sense why! Kitchen corners look great in any playroom, but they provide that important environment where little ones can play and stretch their imagination to the fullest. The KidKraft kitchen offers a few features that are sure to spark your kid’s brain. The burners on the stove have real light and make noise during play. When it’s time to clean up, simply hand the pots and pans on the hooks above the burners. There is an oven, microwave, freezer, and washer, ensuring they never get bored! It’s wood construction, too, promising a long life of play.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for…. Ice-cream! If there is anything that actually gets kids to listen, it has to be ice-cream. With this ice-cream scooper, you can be sure your boy can play with (and not eat) his favorite food for hours. This set is designed to resemble an authentic ice-cream shop and scooper, modeling a real-life experience your kid probably has. The set comes with a wooden counter, eight scoops of ice cream, six toppings, two cones, and all the utensils you could possibly need. It’s time to start scooping!
Going shopping is the ultimate adventure. What’s the coolest part about shopping as a kid? The shopping cart! If you have a kid who just loves feeling and acting like an adult, this shopping cart from Melissa and Doug might be a good option for you. It’s a mini-version of the real deal and has most of the features a real cart has. The wheels pivot 360 degrees and can roll on almost any surface in the home, and the sturdy metal frame feels durable and solid. It also has some features that make sense for kid’s safety, like easy-grip handles and anti-tip legs.
Playing with doctor’s tools seems to be something ubiquitous with 4-year-olds! Years ago, those toys were limited almost exclusively to stethoscopes, but with toys like this Doctors Kit, kids can spend hours learning how different tools work and making up fantastic scenarios in how to use them. This set comes with twelve individual pieces, all with a special purpose in real life! This kit is basically a dream come true for any kids who love learning about science or want to help people feel better (and hey, it never hurts to encourage them along this career path either!).
A bit simpler than our last medical kit, the Fisher-Price version still delivers! This inexpensive kit has nearly everything a real doctor would use in a checkup (without all the sharp things, of course). This set features seven different tools, all inspired by a real office and a fabric carrying bag to place it all in. When it’s time to pack up the toys and put them away, just toss all the pieces in the bag for easy storage. Since this is such a mobile toy set, you can also pack it up and take it whenever you need to ensure your kid is distracted for a few minutes while you do something important.
The grocery store is always full of adventure… so bring it home with you! This grocery store playset is about as cool as they come. As you slowly build up a collection of strange plastic foods, your boy is going to need a place to sell them, and this freestanding store is the perfect compliment. This store features a hand-cranked conveyor belt (they can actually move it), bagging station, credit card swiper, a beeping scanner, and a cash register. There isn’t much else you could possibly need when taking a trip to the store! With the included display section, you can load up on groceries and send them on down the conveyor belt.
There is a small window of time around the toddler age where kids want to help with chores. Unfortunately, that timeframe usually coincides with the age when their help would actually make things worse. With this Cute Stone play kitchen, your kid can help without causing a massive mess! This play kitchen has everything they could need to cook, eat, and clean up during dinner. It features an interactive stove, water circulating faucet, and drying rack. It also includes all the different extra bits you would expect (plastic dish soap, utensils, and food).
Animals are near and dear to any tender kid’s heart. This toy vet set is the perfect way to encourage that tender heart and introduce some fun into the equation. One of this kit’s best features is that it includes two plush pets so you don’t find your 4-year-old experimenting on the household dog. It also features a full 24-piece tool kit, complete with “medication” and a tote bag for travel or storage. With a massive collection of tools and two pets that can take any abuse kids accidentally inflict, this kit is a steal for animal-loving toddlers.
The farmers market is like the grocery store but times 10! It’s full of sights, smells, and fun things to eat and do. It’s no wonder toddlers would love to have a toy that can recreate that fun experience. With the Battat farmers market toy kit, your kid can relive and imagine all sorts of fun scenarios. It comes with a toy basket to place all the food in and the accompanying plastic food pieces. On top of the 37 food items are the plastic knives and cutting boards that can be used to cut certain velcroed fruits in half, simulating real cooking!
This hyper-realistic kitchen set will have your kid cooking like a pro in no time. It comes with a collection of pots, pans, and utensils that look and work just like the real deal! On top of the fun kitchenware, the food that comes with it is next level. Each food item has an interactive element that encourages fun and imaginative cooking scenarios. The corn can be shucked, the eggs cracked, and the banana peeled. If your kid won’t settle for any “fake” experience, this is the buy for you.
Pizza, pizza! Besides maybe chicken nuggets (dino shaped, of course,) pizza is a kid’s favorite food. Honestly, what’s not to love? With this Melissa and Doug pizza set, your kid can make and bake his own pizzas for you and the family! The pizza counter is exactly what you would see in a real pizzeria, only plastic. It features a prep counter with tons of different topping options. Once the pizza is made and prepped, you can use the included peel and slide it into the waiting oven and pull out a completed “pizza”! It even comes with a delivery box for when the “hot and fresh” pie needs to be transferred across the house to waiting parents.
Grilling out with dad is a little boy’s dream come true. With this kitchen and grill set, he doesn’t just have to watch, he can join in! This thing has all the bells and whistles on it too! It features a sink with actual running water, an interactive stovetop with lights and sounds, and a grilling rack! On top of all that, this kit even comes with all the food and cooking utensils that a kid could possibly need. This is for the aspiring Gordan Ramsey of toddlers!
Teaching your kid about food, health, and its repercussions begins to happen around the 4 and 5-year mark. They are learning to distinguish different types of foods and understand that they need certain ones above others. This food group toy kit is a good way to encourage that understanding while keeping the fun in learning. It features four produce boxes, all with a different food group. The four groups, meat and dairy, fruit and vegetables, grains, and dairy, all have unique toys associated with them that your kid will recognize and organize.
Does your kid want to make breakfast and bake with you whenever they step foot in the kitchen? Then check out this toy kit. The Joyin set offers three main appliances, a blender, a toaster, and a stand mixer. When breakfast comes around, is there anything more essential than a blender and a toaster? Eggs, toast, and a smoothie are perfect for any morning cooking expedition, and your kid will love following along with their own tools. This kit also comes with a few food items, just to keep things exciting. Everything is plastic so it will easily last a lifetime.
Ok, enough with the cooking stuff, let’s talk about outdoor fun! Most things little boys want to do are WAY too dangerous in real life, but in the world of pretend, anything is possible! With the Toy Choi chainsaw, your boy can tear around the yard, swinging his plastic tool around without eliciting a bit of fear from the neighbors. This toy set includes the main chainsaw, a bunch of other construction tools, safety goggles, and a filter mask. You can get some of that energy out AND encourage safe use of tools at the same time – better start now than later!
Construction toys are essential for any budding kid who loves to build, destroy, and then build again! Little boys tend to idolize people they see in their lives, especially labor workers! What do all hard-working men carry on their hip? A tape measure. With this tape-measure toy, you can be sure that EVERYTHING in the house will be measured – twice. This tape measure extends to 36-inches and is super durable. It has a wind-up handle, not the potentially dangerous spring-loaded retractor that most measures have, to keep things safe.
KACHING – it’s cash register time. Cash registers are everywhere in life, and kids seem to be drawn to them like nothing else. It makes sense too, they make lots of cool noises, are tactile and responsive, and have money inside! For a developing mind, there is so much stimulation there they can’t help but fall in love. The Playkidz register has just about everything a real register has besides the money. This model features a grocery basket and scale for loading up on all sorts of foods. Once you get the cart on the scale, you can start scanning with the interactive beeper and press on the keys to pop the cash-drawer in and out!
Ready to build? With the STEAM life set, your 4-year-olds imagination will run absolutely wild. For your little construction tyke, this kit has about everything they need to build whatever on their mind. This toolbox comes with a hammer, wrench, nails, screws, tape measure, screwdriver, and power drill! Not everything is left up to the imagination, however, as the drill is electric, turning and making noises when the trigger is pulled. Using the included boards, you can fasten, drill, and tighten for hours at a time.
If only the desire to help clean up stayed with them into their teenage years…nevertheless, we will still try to get them to enjoy it as much as we can! This playset is a huge, 12 piece cleaning kit that might just make cleaning up fun enough to last a few more years. It comes with a mop, bucket, squeegee, duster, rags, dust tray, broom, and more! To add a little imagination to the mix, this set even has a “magic cleaning spray,” and a wet floor sign included. The only worry is that they might start making messes just to use this set to clean it up!
Is your 4-year-old a budding entrepreneur? You definitely need to pick up the Melissa and Doug play money set. Playing with money is something that your kids will want to do for years to come (looking at you, teenagers), so you might as well get them started with some good habits now! This money kit includes a wooden box to store and organize everything in, keeping things neat and tidy. It also has 50 bills of each denomination, as well as coins of each denomination. You can simply use this to have fun and fill up a toy cash register, or sneaky parents can start teaching their kids how to count and sort.