Connect with your child with these great preschool activities at home. None of these ideas use any fancy materials or take too much time. These are great activities for 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, and even 5-6-year-olds. Now if you are a teacher reading this, these are great classroom ideas too, or use these as ideas to give to parents when they are asking for ways to extend their child’s learning at home. Some of these at-home preschool activities won’t be a perfect fit for your child, I have included ways to make these preschool activities easier or harder but if something frustrates your child, move on. Come back to this list and find something new!
Preschool Activities At Home
Write your child’s name on a piece of paper. Use an uppercase letter for the first letter and lowercase for the remaining letters. Cut the letters out, so each letter is its own strip of paper. Pop them in an envelope. Present the envelope to your child saying, ” What is in here? Let’s find out!” Take each letter out of the envelope and have your child name it if they can. If not, you name it. ” Look it’s a lowercase l, what’s next? Oh, look a lowercase i… until you get all the letters out. They do not have to be in order. When they are all out, ask your child if they recognize the letters. “What do you think these letters could spell?” Let your child play with them. Together spell your child’s name. Mix them up and spell it again.
Make it easier -> For very young children write out their name on the 2nd piece of paper and have them place the letters on top, matching the letters to the intact name.
Make it harder -> use sight words for children who have mastered their names. Find sight word lists here. Do multiple words in one sitting if your child is eager and willing.
Get some plain paper and write letters on them. Use a mix of letters, but there is no need to use all twenty-six. Place them around a room with the furniture pushed aside, so there is room to move and groove when the music plays. Play the music and groove. Pause the music and CALL out a letter. Your child should stand on that letter. Repeat!
Make it easier -> Use only a few letters and make them all different colors. When it’s time to call out the letter, call it out as ” RED H” or “BLUE T” whatever colors the letters are. This gives your child help to find the letters since they have the color as a hint.
Make it harder -> Make or write sight words instead of letters. Find sight words here.
Let’s Talk About Race & Racism
Have you talked about race with your kids? In my preschool class, we talk a lot about differences. We talk about how we eat different things, how we have different color skin, how we celebrate birthdays differently. We count in various languages and take note of how different all families are. But that’s not enough. We have to talk more explicitly about race, and this video from The Tutu Teacher that I am asking you to watch is a great way to do that. Watch the video here –> Let’s Talk About Race.
Kitchen Cupboard Counting
Grab a piece of paper and title it ” How many do we have?” then write whatever items you want to count together. After counting, write the number down, if your child can have them write it.
Make it easier -> Have a small group of kitchen items out to count, for example, 3 forks, 2 cups, and 4 spoons.
Make it harder –> before counting, ask your child to make a prediction about which items will have the most, how many do they think there are? After counting, make a simple bar graph on the paper comparing the kitchen items you counted.
Sing your favorite nursery rhymes and songs like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, The Wheels on the Bus, and Five Little Ducks. Need some inspiration? Check out this list of fun songs for the summer.
Make it easier -> No way to make it easier, so just have fun.
Make it harder -> Alter your favorite song instead of Five Little Ducks. Maybe it’s Five Little Monsters, or instead of The Wheels on the Bus, you change it to The Wings on the Plane!
Play Dough Treasure Hunt
This is one of the simplest preschool activities at home on this list! Hide small items in the play dough and use those fine motor skills to dig them out.
Make it easier -> use more substantial items like small toys, Lego blocks, etc..
Make it harder -> sort the items after digging them out. Sort by color or size.
Alphabet Scavenger Hunt
Go on an adventure together, looking for things that start with each letter of the alphabet! You can write the alphabet own on a piece of scrap paper and check each letter off as you find things. A – apple, B – bed, C – cat, D – door… keep going!
Make it easier -> Search only for the letters in your child’s name.
Make it harder -> Ditch the alphabet and use sight words. Find a list of sight words here. Write them on small pieces of paper and say the word, have your child find the word ( hidden or just scattered on a table.
Grab your scissors and work on mastering this skill, for our youngest learners use play dough. Roll it into little snakes and cut it into pieces. For older children, try following lines on paper or making a simple craft like this lion or set up a cutting station!
Make it easier –> playdough and plastic scissors.
Make it harder –> sharper scissors and paper.
Write a Thank You Note
Teaching your child to be grateful can seem abstract. How do you teach a 3-year-old to be thankful when they are naturally ( and developmentally appropriate) so self-centered? With actions. Sit down and write simple thank you notes to people who matter to you. They don’t have to be fancy. Write one to the delivery guy, or your mail carrier. Write one to a teacher or religious leader.
Make it easier -> Write the note on a post-it. The space is small and less intimidating. Or draw a picture instead!
Make it harder -> Write a postcard. You can also use this time to teach your kiddo about addressing mail properly.
What Will Freeze First?
Find an ice cube tray that you aren’t using and 4-10 different liquids from around your home. Things like water, juice, tomato sauce, chocolate sauce, ketchup, milk, paint whatever you have on hand. Pour a little into the ice cube tray. Together with your child, make predictions about which you think will freeze first. Observe and discuss your findings.
Make it easier -> Use fewer liquids.
Make it harder -> Make a simple chart and record your observations. Observe the tray every 30 minutes.
Write A Recipe
Grab a cookbook and look through it. Show your child the ingredients list and the text that includes the instructions for making the recipe. Tell them that today they get to create their own recipe. It can be for real food or something silly like a recipe for a rainbow unicorn! Write it out together. Encourage your child to do as much of the writing as possible. If not, have them draw some of the steps for the recipe.
Make it easier -> Have your child dictate the recipe to you, and you do the writing.
Make it harder -> Read other recipes together and make something to eat!
Alive or Not
Alive or not? Go for a walk and ask your child to help you decide what is living and what isn’t. Is a plant alive? What about a car? A rock? A bird? What do things need to do to be alive? They need to be able to grow, to use something for fuel, and reproduce. Can a car grow? Can a rock? What about a baby bird or that little tree?
Make it easier –> Keep the lesson short – only talk about one or two characteristics about living things.
Make it harder –> After talking about how plants are living, try planting a seed and watch it grow together over the next many weeks. What does it need to stay alive? Research how it can reproduce.
Laundry Basket Toss
Gross motor development is essential, but it doesn’t have to be complicated to be fun. Grab a laundry basket or two, some socks or soft balls, and play target toss.
Make it easier -> Use a large laundry basket.
Make it harder -> Every time you get the socks in, move the basket further away.
This is a simple art activity that is fun but easy to do at home. Grab two crayons or two markers and tape them together. Use the taped together tools to make fun drawings with parallel lines!
Make it easier –> you can’t really – just meet your kiddo where they are at and have fun.
Make it harder –> Try drawing specific objects and see how these drawings look with parallel lines!
Book Letter Hunt
Write out the alphabet on a piece of paper. Sit down with a familiar book, you won’t be reading it, just using it to find letters.
Look for each letter, turn the page from time to time for a new search area.
Make it easier -> instead of the whole alphabet, look only for 5-10 letters.
Make it harder -> look for sight words instead of letters. Find sight words to look for here.
Animal Sounds Game
Go through your toy box or child’s room to find some animal toys pop them in a bag or other place your child can’t see them. If you do not have any animal toys, you can print photos of animals here.
Ask your child to close their eyes and use their sense of hearing for this game.
Make the sound the animal toy you have in your hand makes. For example, for a toy cow, you would moo.
Have your child yell out what animal makes that sound and then open their eyes to see if they are correct.
Make A Map
Find a map and find your home country, state, or city on it. Find places that other family members or friends live. Get some paper and make a map of your neighborhood or even your home.
Make it easier -> Make a map of an imaginary place
Make it harder -> Measure the distance between your city and the cities where loved ones live. If you don’t have an atlas or map, just type it into google maps and look at the difference together.
Missing Letter Game
Being able to sing the alphabet does not translate to “knowing letters,” but this preschool alphabet game helps to use children’s existing knowledge of the alphabet song to introduce or practice a little letter recognition. Grab some paper and a marker. Write out the alphabet on paper leaving a few letters out. You can do upper or lowercase letters with this alphabet game.
Explain to your child that some letters are missing, and you need their help to find them. Sing the alphabet song while touching each letter. When you get to a blank spot, stop and ask, “Wait, what goes here?” Use the alphabet song to figure it out. Go back to a and sing, pointing to each letter. Eventually, you will be pointing at the blank space, and the child will be saying the letter in the song. “You found the letter, yes, it’s a g!” write the letter in and continue. Each time you get to a blank space, go back to a and sing to find the missing letter.
Make it easier -> Only leave out 2-3 letters.
Make it harder -> Ditch the alphabet and use family names or familiar words like sight words. Find a list of sight words here.
Go On A Sound Safari
Just because this is a list of preschool activities at home doesn’t mean you have to stay inside! Go outside with your child. Close your eyes and ask your child to tell you what they hear. If you are able to go for a walk, go around your neighborhood. Keep a mental note of all the sounds heard in your neighborhood. Come back inside and draw those sounds and what was making them; birds, trucks, construction, maybe a siren, or a dog barking.
Make it easier –> you can’t really just roll with this and take some time to calmly listen and breathe.
Make it harder –> Write about the drawing after you draw them, either having your child write if they are able or dictate to you. “This is the dog I heard barking two blocks away.”
Scavenger hunts are always fun, and after many weeks at home, let’s make sure kiddos are moving, even if they are stuck inside. Use some post-it notes numbers or just use paper, and hide them all over! Use at least ten and hide them around your home. Now it’s time to go hunting! What numbers did you find?
Make it easier -> Hunt together!
Make it harder –> Use the second set of post-it notes and line them up on your wall to make a number line. As your child find a hidden number have them come and match it up to the number line.
I Spy Letter Sounds
This is a game I played with both my children in waiting rooms, on airplanes, in the grocery checkout line all the time. It’s so simple.
Look around and find an object in the room. Say, “I spy with my little eye something that starts with the sound “mm” “Yes, microwave! It starts with the sound mm.” Try not to drag the letter sounds out too much, make it quick. Repeat the sound if needed instead of dragging them out.
Make it easier –> Search for sounds for a few minutes and then switch it up for colors or shapes.
Make it harder –> Try searching for rhymes instead ” I spy with my little eye, something that rhymes with pear. Yes, chair!”
We forget how important learning simple tasks like making lunch is. Children love learning practical things, and making a meal together teaches real-life skills while focusing on connection. Chop some fruit, make a simple sandwich, or maybe some pasta together.
Make it easier -> choose a familiar or favorite food like a PB & J and focus on just spending time together.
Make it harder -> Try a NEW recipe, or bake some cookies after a basic lunch.
Make some heart art and send your creation to a friend or family member you haven’t seen during the quarantine. You can use plain crayons and paper or make something more in-depth. Get some ideas for heart art here.
Make it easier -> Keep it simple with crayons and paper.
Make it harder -> you can’t make art harder, but you can extend the learning to include writing a note or letter to the person you are sending it to.
Build A Tower … or a bridge
Make a tower with whatever you have on hand. How tall can you make a tower out of soup cans? What about pillows? Lego?
Make it easier –> If you have blocks stick to that to keep frustration levels lower.
Make it harder –> Make a bridge instead. Can you use items from around the house to make a bridge between two chairs? How much weight can it hold?
Letter Match Up
Matching up lower and uppercase letters is an activity that helps children recognize letters but also learn that letters come in various sizes and serve different functions. You don’t need fancy equipment for this activity. Grab a few sheets of plain paper, a marker, and scissors. Write a few uppercase letters on one sheet of paper. You can make it fancy if you want with colors, but you don’t have to. Write lowercase letters on another sheet and cut them out, so they are in little squares. Pop them in a small ziplock or a bowl. When you are ready to play, simply pull a lower case letter out of the bag and match it up.
Make it easier -> Use fewer letters and use colored markers to write the same letters – so A and a are in red, B and b are in blue, C and c are in green … so that your child can use the color match as a hint!
Make it harder -> Try this with sight words instead. Find sight word lists here.
Gather some paper, glue, and scissors. Any color, any type of paper, whatever you have on hand. Cut all but one sheet into different shapes. Give your child a full sheet of paper, glue, and shapes. Let them create! Manipulating the shapes while creating helps them to learn the properties of the shapes in a meaningful way.
Make it easier -> Cut the shapes out for the child and focus only on two shapes like circles and triangles.
Make it harder –> Give your child a building challenge like using the shapes to make a robot, house, rocket, or their favorite thing.
Red Light! Green Light!
Help your child develop self-control. Play red light green light. Do you remember this game? If not, it’s simple. Have your child stand multiple feet away from you, the further, the better. Then call out green light. Have your child walk or run if you are outside to you. When you yell red light, they must stop. It’s fun to yell ” Green light!”, then “Green light!” again to hear how closely they are listening. When they get to you, the game starts all over.
Make it easier -> Play in a smaller area.
Make it harder -> Add in yellow light. This should mean slow down, but in some families, it means go faster!
Make A Name Sign
Learning to recognize and spell your name is an essential step for developing literacy. Not only do children see these letters often, but they are also meaningful. Use your child’s name as a place to start learning about letters, spelling, and as a source of pride. You can use whatever you have. Paper and crayons. Construction paper and plastic jewels, markers, and glitter glue. Search and find what you have and use it to make this meaningful sign. What a great addition to this list of preschool activities at home!
Make it easier -> Have your child decorate just their first initial. This is what we call “Your letter” in my preschool classroom, and it’s a great starting point for letter recognition.
Make it harder -> Make bedroom signs for everyone in your family or make one for a best buddy and send it to them in the mail!
Science of Smell
Which smells better? Go on a nature walk around your yard and find some items to bring in and smell. Which smells the best? Which smells the worst?
Make it easier -> Keep the walk short and to the point.
Make it harder -> After you get home draw a picture of the best and nastiest smelling find from your walk.
Play with puzzles
Dig out your puzzles and have a snack and do some puzzles together. Puzzles are a really important tool for developing spatial and visual discrimination skills. No puzzles at your house? Print out a dinosaur sequence puzzle here or our six-piece outdoor puzzle here.
Make it easier -> Try simple puzzles like these.
Make it harder -> Make a puzzle scavenger hunt!
Shapes Around The House
Find shapes in your house. What shape is the door? What shape is that pillow? How many squares can you find? What about triangles?
Make it easier -> Try this from the lunch table as you munch on something yummy. Just look around and point things out.
Make it harder –> Go big, have your child make a shape checklist with shapes, and as you walk all-around your home tally it up. Then come back and count the tally to declare which shape is most common in your house
Need More Preschool Activities At Home?
NOW IN PAPERBACK!
( if you want the shorter digital version, please click here)
HERE IS WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT TO FIND INSIDE EVERYDAY PRESCHOOL:
- Over 170 simple preschool activities that use everyday materials. You don’t need to invest a lot of money to teach your child at home.
- These preschool activities at home fit into any schedule.
- The book is organized into nine categories of learning; literacy, math, science, sensory, art, fine motor, gross motor, social-emotional, and bedtime reading tips.
- Activities have been created using various state standards for PreK and have tips for making activities easier or harder to fit your child.
- An appendix filled with links to free printables, song lyrics, nursery rhymes, my favorite playdough recipe, and more.
HERE IS A SNEAK PEEK INSIDE EVERYDAY PRESCHOOL
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