The best preschool activities

Activity

Preschool activities can be both fun and educational with the right toys and some guided play by parents and adults.

What are the best preschool activities? 

Almost all preschool children have one thing in common: they love to play. This is beneficial, because children learn a great deal through play. Play is critically important at this age to help children learn the skills necessary for kindergarten. Preschool children should have a combination of free play, where they create the play on their own and use their own creativity and imagination and guided play, where parents and adults intervene and increase the learning capabilities.

Types of preschool activities

STEM

Children learn practical kindergarten readiness skills such as simple math and reading and science, technology, engineering and math skills through play. 

Soft skills

Children learn “soft skills” through play. Soft skills include basic manners, critical thinking, imagination, creativity and impulse control, among others. Playing with other children can help children learn social skills, language and communication. Guided play can help teach children skills necessary for social and emotional development.

Outdoor 

Outdoor nature-based play is great for preschool children because it allows for greater exploration, imagination and creativity. There are some great toys and activity sets that supplement nature-based play.

The best preschool activities

Best activity for reading and literacy skills

UMTOY Alphabet Animal Jigsaw Puzzle

UMTOY Alphabet Animal Jigsaw Puzzle

What you need to know: Use this colorful 85-piece set of puzzle pieces to construct all the letters of the alphabet to teach letter formation and identification. The pieces have engaging illustrations of objects that start with that letter to start to teach letter sounds and phonics.

What you’ll love: The act of assembling letters teaches spatial skills, which is an early math skill, along with letter recognition. When assembling letters with children, use spatial terms, such as top, bottom, left, right, up, down and above and below.

What you should consider: This set can be a little bit tricky for younger children, as pictures are printed on both sides of the letter puzzles.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best activity for early math and STEM skills

Skoolzy Butterfly Color Sorting and Counting Game 

Skoolzy Butterfly Color Sorting and Counting Game 

What you need to know: This game comes with colorful butterflies and a “butterfly catcher” tool and encourages fine motor skills, basic math concepts such as sorting, categorizing, matching, counting, patterning and addition and subtraction.

What you’ll love: This game comes with a fine motor component. The butterfly catcher tongs encourage a tripod grasp, which is the grasp used in holding a pencil or crayon. The butterflies are slightly different, so acute visual discrimination is required to play this game.

What you should consider: Some reviewers report that the quality of the carrying case is lacking.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Best activity for social skills

Stone Soup Board Game 

Stone Soup Board Game 

What you need to know: Players work together to create soup by matching ingredients.

What you’ll love: This game helps to teach social cooperation and language and social skills because players need to work together. It works on the early math skill of matching the soup ingredients. The game is picture-based, so no reading is required.

What you should consider: This game says it’s for children ages 5 and up, but it’s more appropriate for preschool children.

Where to buy: Sold by Buy Buy Baby

Best activity for emotional development

Peaceable Kingdom Friends and Neighbors, The Helping Game 

Peaceable Kingdom Friends and Neighbors, The Helping Game 

What you need to know: This game helps children cultivate important skills of emotional development, self-esteem, shared decision-making and creative problem-solving and establish a sense of community among players while solving the problems on the cards. Cards include helping a little girl who’s sad because she’s standing in the rain and a boy who’s afraid of the dark.

What you’ll love: The activities in this game help to build compassion and empathy while discussing these concepts with a trusted adult. This can be played with just one child or several children together for greater social skill development. It also comes with a booklet with language to help engage children in empathy.

What you should consider: Some reviewers report that the game should come with more cards; users could add their own cards that are specific to their child’s situation.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best nature-based activity

Kidz Xplore Outdoor Explorer Set

Kidz Xplore Outdoor Explorer Set

What you need to know: This outdoor exploration kit includes a butterfly net, binoculars, magnifying glass, compass, bug containers, tweezers, transfer capsule, a whistle, maps, a backyard bug book and a drawstring bag to carry it all. It encourages outdoor adventure, exploration and learning.

What you’ll love: This is a great early science activity as children can watch birds, learn about insects, follow the maps and compass and have all the tools necessary to explore their world.

Parents and adults can help expand on this by using language such as likes and differences, species, habitat, examine, explore and report findings.

What you should consider: Some users report that the binoculars are not very strong.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best group activity

Kids on Stage, The Charades Game for Kids

Kids on Stage, The Charades Game for Kids

What you need to know: This simple charades game encourages creativity, imagination, acting skills, social skills and working together in a group.

What you’ll love: This game helps children express themselves, which helps to build self-confidence and self-esteem.

What you should consider: This comes with small pieces that could become a choking hazard for babies and young children.

Where to buy: Sold by Buy Buy Baby

Best music activity

Britenway Musical Instrument Toy Set

Britenway Musical Instrument Toy Set

What you need to know: Musical instruments are a great way for young children to learn early music and mathematical concepts related to rhythm and counting beats. This musical set comes with a tambourine, shaker eggs, castanets, hand bell, maracas, wrist bells, claves, sleigh bells and a triangle, encouraging motor skills, hand-eye coordination and rhythm development.

What you’ll love: This kit comes with a carrying case to keep it all together. Wooden instruments are durable and can be played independently or with other children. Parents and adults can encourage children to play along to music or make their own music, and even write their own lyrics.

What you should consider: This set doesn’t include a drum, but it has one drumstick that can be used on the tambourine.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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