As young children grow, so can their experience of the world. At four years old, I think they are ready to explore national and state parks with their grown up. Consider buying admission to a park near you. By exploring the outdoors together a five year old and his or her grown will be steeped in all things STEAM.
National Parks Pass. Here is the link to learn about and purchase the American the Beautiful National Park Pass. ($80) Not sure if there is a national park near your Preschool Engineer? Search by state on this page: http://www.nps.gov/index.htm.
Junior Rangers Program. The National Parks Service have a great learning program called "Junior Rangers" wherein the child explores and learns about the national park. It is free of charge, easy to do (even my 3yo did it), and a great way to add to the experience of being outdoors.
State Parks Pass. You will have to do some digging to find your state park. Start here: http://www.americasstateparks.org/Find-A-Park. From there you will have to navigate to your state of interest and hunt around. The passes are often called "Passports." For example, this is what I found for purchase in a handful of states: Michigan, Colorado, and California.
All of the museums I've been to have spaces dedicated to babies (Missoula, Montana; Phoenix, Arizona; Mesa, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; Ann Arbor, Michigan). The best museums have dedicated baby spaces at every exhibit, like the "Baby Zones" at the Children's Museum of Phoenix. Use the search tool at the Association of Children's Museums website to find your local museum, or just Google "children's museum [name of city]".
Some of these toys are recommended for six year olds but I'm not sure why. Please use your discretion.
Catapult. In all honesty, I don't have experience with this toy. But man it looks so awesome. Just imagine all the physics learning with projectile motion, gravity, and technology!
Safari Binoculars. For seeing far away things, closer. Observation is the first step in doing science. And having a new tool for observing interesting things is a wonderful gift.
|Backyard Safari Binoculars|
Lego Ninjago Flyer. Listed for six year olds and up, this spinning flier will be a great introduction to the world of LEGO Ninjago. Some preschool engineers are so in love with trucks that they will want to pursue LEGO City and all the trucks available in that series. However, if the interest in trucks lies in the fact that they are mechanically interesting, then Ninjago is a wonderful world to discover. The vehicles that you build with LEGOs are like small Rube Goldberg machines with a lot of moving parts, interlocking gears, rubberband sprung motion, and much much more. The books that accompany the series are pretty good, too...especially the graphic novels.
More Gift Ideas
Gear for Outdoor Adventures
STEM Gifts for Babies
STEAM Gifts for Toddlers - One Year Olds
STEAM Gifts for Toddlers - Two Year Olds