Nineteen fun and engaging learning activities for preschoolers

Activities Jul 07, 2020

When thinking about activities for toddlers, know that they are hungry to learn. By age three, children may be talking in short sentences, recognizing patterns, and naming unfamiliar things. They're also developing their motor skills, social emotional skills, number sense, and language.  

It's important to support this development with different learning activities. Read on to learn how to mix play and education for children ages 3 to 5.  

19 Preschool learning activities

Motor skills

  • Make simple foods. Anything with just a few ingredients and a basic shape is a great place to start. How about Japanese rice balls? Kids get to use their hands and develop their motor skills, and they can eat what they create.
  • Learn a short dance: Most kids love to move, and dancing is a great way to help kids continue developing their motor skills, their memory, and their rhythm!
  • Try yoga: Help your child learn different body parts, while also learning yoga postures. Who doesn’t love stretching and singing?
  • Plant a flower: All you need is a little bit of soil, a small spade (or your hands!), and some seeds. With some assistance, have your child plant a small flower and watch it grow. They can even draw it, too!
  • Learn a handshake: This is another great way for kids to develop rhythm and language by repeating motions and sounds.
  • Make your own play dough: Not only can kids help in the measuring and combining ingredients, they can use the end result. Just combine two cups of baking soda, a cup and a half of water and a cup and a half of cornstarch. For colored playdough, add food coloring.

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Outschool offers fun, affordable, and safe live online classes for learners ages 3–5.

Social emotional skills

  • Show and tell. This classic classroom activity works well at home, either in a family setting or in a virtual show and tell class. Having an opportunity to engage with other kids helps them to develop socially, become better listeners, and build empathy—and it’s especially important when kids aren’t able to connect with friends in person during quarantine.
  • Identifying emotions. Learning to identify different feelings in ourselves or in others (even in fictional characters) and talking about them is important for kids of all ages.  Once kids can identify what they’re feeling, they can learn how to manage their emotions—a great skill for everyone!
  • Practice gratitude. Finger painting a grateful tree is a fun way for kids to show what they appreciate. Each leaf on the tree will be something the child is grateful for.Build confidence. Encourage your child to practice positive affirmations about themselves to build confidence and self-acceptance.

Crafts

  • Nature crafts. Get kids outside and incorporate nature into mixed media crafts. Engaging with nature can help spark creativity and allow kids to learn about flora, fauna, and the seasons.
  • Color scavenger hunt. Using household objects and several laundry baskets, have kids gather and group like colored items together into each basket. Start in a room with lots of different colored objects that you don’t mind kids picking up and moving—maybe a room with a few bookshelves or a bedroom with lots of stuffed animals and toys. Set a timer and see how many items they can sort correctly before the timer goes off. This kinesthetic learning activity also works with letter sounds too: Find all items that begin with the letter “b,” for example.
  • Draw and combine basic shapes. Practice drawing basic shapes and see how they can combine to form recognizable things like boats, trucks, animals, and the like. This basic drawing activity blends motor skills and creativity.

Music

  • Learn to make music. There are lots of ways for kids to have a chance to sing and dance and make music—from pots and pans to simple singing and hand clapping. This a great opportunity for a child to learn different rhymes and songs, while building their language and musical skills.
  • Listen to world music. Learning about different cultures and their music is a great way for kids to learn about places all across the world. For example, learning about Brazilian Caopeira is a crash course in drum beats as well as cultural and music history.
  • Paint to music: This therapeutic and calming activity allows kids to express themselves freely while they paint and listen. This gives kids a chance to be creative and work on their fine motor skills.

Language and literacy

  • Giant letter search: As kids start to recognize shapes and letters, this is a great way for them to have fun with it! Using a large poster board or butcher paper, make a word search by writing words or letters out in a grid. Then, pick a letter for kids to search for in the word search. They can circle it with a marker, color it in, or even stick a post-it note over it.
  • Read from around the world. It’s important for all kids to learn about cultures other than their own, and stories are a great way for young kids to do this. For preschool age, folktales and fairytales are engaging and fun.
  • Finger painting letters. Help your child learn their letters and improve motor skills! Using a large poster or butcher paper, have children trace different letters using watercolor paint and their fingers.

Outschool offers Kindergarten readiness classes for learners ages 3-5

Explore classes

Outschool offers Circle Time classes for learners ages 3-5

Explore classes

Outschool offers counting classes for learners ages 3-5

Explore classes

Outschool offers reading classes for learners ages 3-5

Explore classes

Tips for engaging preschoolers

  • Play: Try to make the activity playful. At this age, kids learn by playing, meaning that even if it doesn’t look like a “learning activity”, it doesn’t mean they’re not learning. This is because playing allows kids to make meaning of what they’re doing and the world around them.
  • Hands-on: This is a time when kids are developing both their fine and gross motor skills, so anytime an activity can be hands on, the more opportunity kids have to develop these skills. Using manipulatives (things kids can hold in their hands) are great for preschool activities, too.
  • Short: Remember that the attention span of a preschooler is short! Try to keep activities under fifteen minutes, or change the focus of the activity or take a break around that time to keep their attention.

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