Another fun learning toy that will last for many years is a nice set of alphabet blocks.
We especially like the Wooden ABC Blocks with Cart from Vilac ($46.99), which comes with a little wagon that is great both for block storage and for hauling a friend (and maybe some carefully chosen treasures) around.
There are 42 blocks in the set. They are 1.32"x1.32"x1.32" -- too big to choke on, but a good size for little hands. The non-toxic colors are bold and bright. The blocks are made in Thailand.
Alphabet blocks are a super versatile toy that offer so many ways to play and learn. They can be used for stacking and to build a castle.
" Is my castle right, Mommy?"
Because there are multiples of each letter, they can be used to write many important words.
And, of course, for reading and spelling lessons.
In addition to lots of letters, there are punctuation marks, numbers and numeric signs in this set. We've found that they are a fun way to practice math. If you have four blocks and five more blocks, then how many do you have all together?
So, while the blocks would make an excellent gift for a one year old, they are pretty fun at age four as well.