Looking for easy preschool activities? If you have three and four-year-olds at home or setting up your preschool classroom, this is your list of preschool learning activities.
As a former teacher and mom to three boys, I understand the importance of incorporating the senses, play, and movement into learning. I also relate to being pulled in a million directions and not wanting to spend countless amounts of time prepping an activity to last 30 seconds.
Use the jump links in the table of contents to take you right where you want to be.
RELATED: Have a toddler or a big kid? This is the BEST list of activities for kids.
Why preschool activities are important
Hands-on preschool activities are important because they will set the foundation for all future learning and encourage children to learn by doing. Fun ideas are typically open-ended and involve more than one sense at a time. The child has flexibility in thinking, trying new things, and building on existing play schema.
We know we need to ditch the worksheets and incorporate more hands-on activities for preschoolers in our day. But as we are bombarded with printables and giant workbooks from Costco, we begin to think that is the quick and easy solution for summer boredom. (save those activity books for quiet time)
Well, I am here to show you how to set up hands-on activities for your kids as quickly as you hit the print button on your computer.
Think about it like this. When we do paperwork or a worksheet, we sit at a desk. This is very unnatural for children and also for many adults. – myself included!
Now, picture yourself doing what you love. Does it include touch? Are you looking at something in a new way? How about the smell? Wow, right? So much more learning than sitting at a desk or filing paperwork.
Children need experiences with indoor activities and heading outside to play.
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What kind of activities do preschoolers need?
You can attest to their short attention span if you have a three- and four-year-old. One minute they may be deep into sensory play, and the next, they wander into the kitchen asking for a snack.
When setting up preschool activities, parents and educators need to know that this is age-appropriate and that children can typically focus one more minute or twice their age. At the preschool age, we are focusing on building experiences that will encourage momentum and more independent play over time.
Preschoolers need open-ended, fun invitations to play.
Quick Tips for Preschool activities
- Pick activities that take less than five minutes to set up. Children appreciate simplicity.
- Think about what your child enjoys doing. Children learn through repetition and need plenty of opportunities to revisit ideas.
- Guide, not micromanage. Three and four-year-olds will likely go in their direction. (this is a good thing)
- Observe and use language to mention what you notice. “I see you put the red cars in the red circle. That is called color sorting”.
- Play it cool. Kids don’t need us to hover. Make jokes and enjoy watching your child discover their learning.
Above all, remember that preschool activities should not feel like a race to learn all things. It is about the experience.
What are some fun activities for preschoolers?
Hands-on activities allow children to become fully engaged in what they are learning.
These learning-through-play activities for preschoolers include movement and encourage new brain pathways to extend previously learned knowledge. It is building something we educators call play schema, which means repeating play patterns repeatedly to create new learning pathways in the brain.
Put simply, hands-on activities wake up learning.
50 Math Activities for Kids
Inside this main post featuring 50 math activities for preschoolers, you will find play-based, hands-on math activities for preschoolers. Kids learn by practicing counting, graphing, measuring, learning shapes, and sorting through play.
Preschool Math Activities
Remember, math activities for kids go beyond memorizing numbers and counting. These hands-on activities inspire play-based learning. Practice measurement with magnetic tiles, color sort pom poms with trucks, play games with ten frames, and problem-solve with higher-level thinking.
- Shape People Counting Activity
- Sorting by Shapes
- Color Counting Hunt
- Watercolor Shape Painting
- Shape Build
- Primary Color Toy Sort
- Graph the Counting Bears
- Feed the Sharks; a Preschool Counting Game
17 Science Activities for Kids
Toddlers and preschoolers are curious little beings. Their natural desire to explore everything around them is important to their growth and development.
Preschool Science Activities
A couple of years ago, I noticed my preschooler started to show an increased interest in the seasons, weather and changes around him. I took his lead and began offering him some simple play-based science activities for preschoolers to encourage his interest.
- Balloon Experiments with Candy – Learn Play Imagine
- Color Changing Flowers – Go Science Kids
- Outdoor Tracks Water Play
- DIY Sound Shakers
- Elephant Toothpaste – Fun at Home with Kids
- How to Recycle Markers into Watercolors
- How to Make a Lava Lamp – 123 Homeschool for Me
- Magic Milk – Little Bins Little Hands
What is Letter Recognition?
Ever wonder which letters to teach your three and four-year-old first? Here is an organized list to help you understand which letters to review with your child and activities to reinforce.
Preschool Alphabet Activities
“How do I teach my child the alphabet,” is one of the most commonly asked questions. What we have learned in more recent studies is that helping our children hear letter sounds and watch our mouths when we form letters is more important than memorizing. Learn why hands-on learning is important for child development and easy ways you can set up ways to practice.
- 15 Name Activities
- Fine Motor Letter Grab
- Writing Letters with Race Cars
- Rock Letters Alphabet Activity
- Alphabet Bingo – with a twist!
- Name Hide and Seek
- Poke the Alphabet
- Alphabet Sorting Activity
50 Art Activities for Kids
Art activities for kids are a way to express thoughts and interests creatively. If you want everything in one place, head to our collection of 50 art activities for kids featuring easy art ideas, painting with kids, and recyclable art ideas.
Preschool Art Activities
Here you will find process art and watercolors, painting ideas for kids, mystery leaf rubbings, cutting practice, paper weaving, and other innovative and imaginative ideas.
- How to Paint with Kids
- How to Paint with Toddlers – a GENIUS idea
- Color by Number
- How to Introduce Clay to Kids
- Paint Elmer, the Elephant
- Tissue Paper Easy Art
- Paint by Color Dots
- Glue the Fall Leaves
40 Sensory Bins for Kids
Sensory play is one of the most valuable hands-on learning activities. Why? Because sensory bins allow children to connect information through touch, sound, sight, taste, and smell. Learn how to introduce sensory play and jump into 40+ sensory bin activities for all ages.
Preschool Sensory Play
Sensory play can be as simple as freezing water in a muffin tin (my personal fav) or making your cloud dough. You will learn the sensory play you are down for over time and the one you will never repeat. For me, that is making a rice bin.
- Alphabet Bean Bin
- Colored Noodles
- Shaving Cream Messy Sensory Play
- Paint the Ice
- Shaving Cream Cake Decorating
- Frozen Water Play
- Scoop the Cranberries
- Taste Safe Sensory Bin
- Scoop the Limes
RELATED: This article shares the importance of sensory play.
Fine Motor Activities
I LOVE creating fine motor skills activities for toddlers and preschoolers alike. You’ll learn what a fine motor skills activity is, why they’re critical for development, and 50+ ways to develop fine motor skills.
Fine Motor Activities for Kids
Children need hands-on opportunities to move the small muscles in their hands. children can practice finger control with tweezers, tongs, eye droppers, spray bottles, squirt bottles, stickers, and stamps. – whew! I wasn’t exaggerating when I told you we have many fun preschool fine motor activities on this list.
- Bring Home the Bears with Pincer Grip
- Tweeze and Rescue the Bears
- Sticker Match Pencil Grip
- Color by Number
- Cut the Lines; Preschool Scissor Practice
- Pinch the Clothespins
- Squirt the Ice
- Spider Match Sticker Exploration
- Drive and Park Color Sort
RELATED: This article shares the ages and stages of pencil grip.
25 Gross Motor Games
Gross motor activities for preschoolers are important for your kids to develop their bodies to be and later to be able to use fine motor skills. Practicing gross motor skills also helps children learn more about themselves and become more confident.
Gross Motor Activities for Kids
Finally, let’s get our preschoolers moving with these entertaining gross motor activities to strengthen the large muscles in the body. Grab the chalk, head outside, make a movement cube, and find ways to move your body on indoor rainy days.
- Musical Color Scavenger Hunt
- Nature Scavenger Hunt
- Outdoor Chalk Boardgame
- Outdoor Tracks Water Play
- Jump the Lines
- Indoor Color Sorting
- Prewriting with Colors and Movement
- Indoor Mini Golf
Other age categories
Call over your two to four-year-olds! These toddler activities are a great way to drink your morning coffee (hot) as your child plays. These easy ideas strengthen hands for future writing skills, encourage problem-solving, and improve hand-eye coordination. You can finally empty the dishwasher or make lunch as your toddler activates learning through play.
Hands-on Activities for Kindergarten
Did you know Kindergarteners need hands-on learning more than ever? In a digital world, we are bombarded with computers and devices. Let’s take a step forward with learning the way kids are meant to learn through play and movement. Review sight words, practice letter sounds, addition, and many more Kindergarten skills all in one place. Are you ready to dive in? Yes, please!
Craving a calmer morning?
Breakfast Invitations are simple learning games to begin the day with play.
Preschool Activities FAQ
Preschool should be a time to create and explore new ideas. We want our early learners to transport objects, discover color combinations, sort, classify, design, connect, and investigate new ideas. We can do this with hands-on preschool activities – NOT worksheets. Use these preschool activity cards with your child.
Teaching hands-on is following a child’s interest and learning style. It allows children to use their hands and mind to make connections through investigation and problem-solving. A child that loves to move will incorporate more gross motor activities. If your child works on pencil grip, slow down and review the fine motor activity list.
Learning activities for preschool should include hands-on ideas that allow children to explore their senses. We want children to touch, manipulate, and ask questions. Learn everything you need to know about learning activities with the starter kit.