7 Fun and Easy Learning Activities for 4-Year-Olds

by | May 17, 2023 | Core Skills

What are the best activities for 4-year-olds? There’s so much going in kids’ lives at this age that it can be tough to tell. Should you focus on letters and numbers? Playing pretend? Arts and crafts? Getting outdoors?

At Begin, we focus on the 5 C’s that help kids thrive in school and life: Creativity, Critical Thinking, Curiosity, Character, and Core Skills. Kids who develop in these areas early enjoy more success in school and work and better relationships with friends and teachers. They make better decisions. And ultimately they’re more likely to love learning throughout their lives. 

The Short Cut

  • Activities for 4-year-olds can develop the 5 C’s that help them thrive in school and life: Creativity, Critical Thinking, Curiosity, Character, and Core Skills
  • Four-year-olds are developing rapidly, gaining new skills like counting and letter recognition, playing organized games with others, and storytelling
  • Parents can help by encouraging activities that encourage creativity and cooperation, introduce letters and numbers, and involve simple rules or pretend play

Luckily, all 5 C’s are easy to support through play activities, especially for 4-year-olds!

In this article, we’ll share some of our learning experts’ favorite creative ways to help keep your 4-year-old learning and entertained at home.

Skills Your 4-Year-Old Is Developing

Your child is reaching many exciting milestones during this time, from starting to write their name and following two- and three-step instructions to taking things apart to see how they work and comforting someone who’s sad. Knowing more about their growth areas can help you choose which activities can best guide them.

Creativity, Character, and Curiosity

Child in astronaut costume playing outside at sunset

Your 4-year-old’s imagination is growing by leaps and bounds. Four-year-olds often develop imaginary friends and love to play dress-up (Creativity and Curiosity at work!). They can also get their friends, siblings, or even mom and dad involved as their ability to play with others develops (part of building Character).

When choosing activities for 4-year-olds, we suggest picking games that encourage creativity, introduce new things, and involve cooperative play to help your child continue developing these important skills.

Core Skills

At the four-year mark, you’ve likely already seen your child’s growing cognitive abilities. Many kids this age begin to:

  • Memorize the names of shapes and colors
  • Understand the idea of counting
  • Write or read a few written numbers
  • Recall parts of a story
  • Write their first name

In addition, children at this stage are getting better at problem-solving and understanding the world around them. And there’s so much more exciting cognitive development to come!

Gross and Fine Motor Skills

Children playing outside on trampoline

At age 4, your child is developing a few new gross motor skills. These may include jumping on one leg, skipping, throwing and catching a ball, kicking a ball, climbing, and hopping while running.

Some fine motor skills are also improving. At this stage, your child may be able to complete puzzles, use child-safe scissors, and hold pens, markers, and pencils correctly.

Your child’s growing gross and fine motor skills help them explore new activities related to many of the 5 C’s. At age 4, they may become able to draw some figures and write a few letters and numbers (Core Skills and Creativity). And their gross motor skills will help them play organized games like sports, which develop Critical Thinking by introducing sets of rules to follow.

Since many children love being active and welcoming new challenges, working their developing motor skills into new activities for 4-year-olds can be a lot of fun!

Sensory Skills

Smiling child in classroom holding up hands with blue and green paint on them

At Begin, we encourage lots of sensory play (activities that involve kids using their five senses) because children explore and learn about the world around them by touching, smelling, seeing, hearing, and tasting.

Sensory play has an important role in many aspects of a child’s development, including:

  • Cognitive development
  • Social skills
  • Fine motor skills
  • Gross motor skills
  • Language development
  • Problem-solving skills

Incorporating sensory play when you choose activities for 4-year-olds can help them continue developing these skills.

Physical Strength

We’ve already covered some of the gross motor skills your 4-year-old is learning. As they continue to be active every day, their physical strength will naturally increase.

Four-year-olds should ideally get about three hours of physical play per day. This can include light, moderate, and vigorous activities.

Organized sports and other physical games can help kids develop their strength and Critical Thinking at the same time. But at this stage, it can be challenging for children to wrap their heads around the rules of a game. Four-year-olds may run or kick a ball in the wrong direction. And that’s OK! It’s part of their development.

If you choose to enroll your child in sports to help with their physical development, we suggest you opt for early childhood sports programs that focus on healthy fun and engagement, rather than being competitive.

7 Creative Learning Activities for 4-Year-Olds

1. Indoor Obstacle Course

Two girls setting up an obstacle course on the floor

What You’ll Need:

It’s easy to create an indoor obstacle course using everyday items around your home. To get started, you’ll need to come up with a list of challenges and then build the course around that.

Look around the house and see what movable items can bring your obstacle course to life. Chairs, cushions, books, and blankets can all add to the fun!

What to Do:

It’s always fun to get the kids involved in the building of your obstacle course. As a parent, your main role can be maintaining safety.

If you’re stuck thinking of challenges to create, here are some ideas:

Tunnel — An indoor tunnel is easy to create by lining up a row of chairs that your child can crawl through.

Balance Beam — Got some painter’s tape? Place a long strip on the floor and encourage your child to walk it in a straight line.

Maze — Children can create an indoor maze by lining up some books and using them as a low wall.

Obstacle courses are great to encourage physical activity, Critical Thinking, and Creativity while having lots of fun!

2. Hopscotch

Smiling girl sitting on ground next to hopscotch grid

What You’ll Need:

  • Chalk
  • A small rock or pebble
  • A paved area outside

What to Do:

Hopscotch is a classic activity for 4-year-olds! (Check out detailed instructions for hopscotch and other number-related games here.)

You might want to make the game a bit easier than the usual version to begin with. You can do that by:

  • Making the squares with numbers closer together
  • Letting your child jump to one number at a time
  • Creating a board that goes from one to six (this can increase as your child gets more adept at the game)
  • Letting your child place their stone on the number rather than toss it

As your child gets better at the game, they can move closer to the original rules.

Besides getting some exercise in, your child will also be practicing math, one of the Core Skills. You can help by counting their hops out loud and then celebrate the total hops once they reach the other side.

3. Outdoor Letter and Number Hunt

What You’ll Need:

  • 10 index cards
  • Marker

What to Do:

Start by writing the numbers 1 to 5 on five individual index cards (one number per card). Then write 5 letters—maybe your child’s name or one of their favorite things—on the remaining cards.

Finally, hide the cards in your yard or around a nearby park (behind a tree, in a bush, under a rock, etc.). Tip: Be sure to place the cards underneath or attached to something in case the wind blows!

The aim of the game is simple—encourage your child to find a number card (“Let’s see if we can find a number!”). If they find a number, celebrate this moment (“You found a number!”). If not, turn the card over and encourage them to try again. You can then do the same with letters.

You can find more details here. To make it a bit more challenging, ask your child to find a specific number or letter. Recognizing letters and numbers is an important Core Skill for 4-year-olds, so this game helps them learn while having fun!

4. Dance Festival

Family dancing in living room

What You’ll Need:

  • Pots
  • Wooden spoons
  • Fun costumes

What to Do:

Attending a concert or music festival can be a fantastic experience for kids, giving them a chance to cultivate Curiosity by checking out new sights and sounds (not to mention the Creativity that comes with dancing). So why not bring that fun to your household?

You can turn pots over to create drums, hit wooden spoons together (they can also be a pretend microphone), and dress in fun costumes to really get into the mood.

This is a great activity to get the whole family involved. The kids may want you to play their favorite songs over and over, and that’s fine—but see if you can work some new ones into the mix too!

5. Craft Box

Girl concentrating as she paints a craft box

What You’ll Need:

  • A box
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Glue
  • Cotton balls
  • Colored paper
  • Any other craft supplies you have around the house

What to Do:

This activity is straightforward. All you need to do is fill the box with the craft supplies and encourage your child to create anything they want.

Will they draw a house? Create a rocket ship? Who knows what their imaginative minds will come up with?

This is a great opportunity for your child to continue developing their Creativity. And once the box is finished, they can store art supplies in it for future creative projects too!

6. Color Mixing Sensory Bag

Happy boy showing off hands colored in rainbow paint

What You’ll Need:

  • Icing or shaving cream
  • Food coloring
  • Two small bowls
  • Toothpick or spatula
  • Large zip-top bag

What to Do:

You can follow these detailed instructions for creating a color mixing sensory bag for your 4-year-old. In a nutshell, your child will need to use their fingers and hands to squish and mix the different colors inside the bag.

This activity is a great way for your child to practice experimenting and exploring cause and effect while having fun and learning about colors, an important Core Skill. They’ll also enjoy squishing and squashing the soft icing or shaving cream!

7. Shared Story Map

What You’ll Need:

What to Do:

Encourage your child to tell you a story, using the story map as a guide. They can fill the map out with their creative drawings, or you can help them write the story out.

Sometimes it can be challenging for a child to think of a whole story by themselves. This is where you come in! You can start the story, and then your child can add on (other family members can join in, too).

Once you’re confident the story is complete, it’s time to act it out together using the toys!

This activity helps with language development (a Core Skill), storytelling and imagination (Creativity), and collaborating with others (Character)—all at the same time!

Bust Boredom with Activities for 4-Year-Olds!

Group of kids laughing together on floor

Children are constantly learning and growing. By focusing on activities for 4-year-olds that develop the 5 C’s, you can have a great time as a family while setting kids up to thrive in life.

To explore more great activities that support early learning (including our award-winning apps and hands-on activity kits, tutoring, and more), check out the Begin website!


  • Begin Learning Team

    Parents hear so much noise about what matters–it’s hard to know where to begin. That’s where we come in. We are early learning experts & PhDs helping you focus on what matters most for your child.

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Begin Learning Team
Begin Learning Team

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Parents hear so much noise about what matters–it’s hard to know where to begin. That’s where we come in. We are early learning experts & PhDs helping you focus on what matters most for your child.