Friday, February 19, 2010

Activities for Preschoolers at Home

All of the little ones in my daughter's playgroup are in preschool.  She couldn't go since she was only 2 so I decided to do some stuff at home with her. You may be like me and wonder what you can do at home with them to help teach them skills for when they do go to preschool or even kindergarten.  This is just an overview of things to teach your child and examples of ways to teach the main concepts.  You probably have lots of educational toys (puzzles, games, videos, etc) that you can also use.  You can also take field trips.

How to set up preschool at home:
Pick a weekly or monthly theme and tailor activities around it.  Depending on your child, you may choose to pick two or three days a week where you set aside one or two hours to have structured activities or you may choose to go with the flow and implement them whenever you have time.

Discuss what day of the week it is and the date
Dress a doll or a stuffed animal based on how cold it is outside
Have a theme and read a story, play a game, sing a song, eat a snack, and/or do a craft around the theme
Do something physical (such as play outside or dance)

  • Use a chore or reward chart.  My daughter does little things like pick up her toys and help unload the dishwasher (warning: this takes forevvverrrrr)
  • Sing songs that teach or just silly songs to dance to.  I wrote a post a few weeks ago about Songs to Motivate Your Kids: From Counting to Cleaning.  Teach them to clap the rhythm to a song.  Hop, march, and jump around (skip if they are able).  Have them do the bunny hop forward and back.
  • Play Simon Says (or Mama Says) or Follow the Leader. This helps them to learn to listen to directions.
  • Act out emotions.  Look at pictures of other children's faces and identify what emotion they are showing.
  •  Throw and catch balls.
  • Draw circles, horizontal and vertical lines, and triangles.  You can use shaving cream or whipped cream also to make it more fun.
  • Tape a piece of paper with straight, zig zag, and squiggly lines on a window with a blank piece of paper over it.  Let your child trace the lines.
  • Play pretend and encourage them to use their imagination.  With blankets build a tent and pretend to go camping.  Have a tea party with their stuffed animals.
  • Crafts are always a good activity.  Folding paper, pasting, coloring, and using safety scissors require some coordination. 
  • Teach them their left and their right.  Have them hold their hands out in front of them and take notice of which hand the thumb and forefinger make an "L" for left.  You can also make a game out of giving them directions such as "point to the left", "step to the right", and "raise your left arm" or have a scavenger hunt with directions involving left and right. You can also have them trace their hands and feet and label them.
  • Try to get them to sit for a story.  Use funny sounds or props when you read.  Try to get them involved by asking questions.
  • Teach them their colors and about fruits by making your own scratch n sniff paints. You can also have a placemat (a piece of letter size paper that you've had laminated) with colored blocks and using foods of varying colors have them put the colored foods on the matching colored blocks.  You can also have them sort legos or blocks by color.  You can also use colored stickers to teach colors.
  • You can teach the alphabet by giving your children alphabet cookies and a placemat that you have made with the alphabet and have them match up the cookie with the letters on the placemat.  Have them say the letter out loud to you. Make an alphabet book with the letter and pictures of things that begin with that letter.  Spell out words for them such as their name and teach them the letters.
  • Teach numbers by counting foods into piles. This will also allow you to introduce the concepts of big and small by comparing different size piles.  You can count anything with your child.  At dollar stores, they often sell wall decals.  If you can find numbers (or make your own with circular wall decals that you've added numbers to with marker) you can put them on the wall by the stairs if you don't have an open staircase.  This way they can see the numbers as you count the stairs together when you go up and down. You can also do countdowns using calendars or make your own.
  • Create an obstacle course for your children using pillows to jump in, have them limbo under a broom handle (set up on two chairs), jump over a piece of tape on the floor, and crawl under a kitchen chair.  Do you remember having to crab walk in gym class?
  • Running with a kite or kicking a ball.
  • Fill a dish pan with water, beans, or rice and give them a strainer, a little rake, and measuring cups. 
  • Help them complete 3-6 piece puzzles (or larger ones as they become more capable).
  • Have a doll or a stuffed animal that you can dress based on the weather outside (good way to teach a child fine motor skills and about the weather).
  • Teach your child spatial relationships such as in, on top, inside, outside, up, down, over, under, near, and far.  You can have your child sit on a chair or climb into a box or use a stuffed animal to illustrate these concepts.
  • Have your child help bake or cook by pouring ingredients in the bowl or mixing.
  • Pounding, pulling, and stamping play-doh.
  • Teach safety by making a list of rules for your home and letting them decorate it.  You can also use their stuffed animals and buckle them in the car to show them the importance of buckling up.  Determine what rules you want to emphasize first, determine what ones they already know, and go from there.
  • Teach manners by modeling what you want them to do.  You may want to pick one or two to stress monthly or until your child has mastered them and continually reinforce them. 
  • Days of the week can be taught by talking about the day of the week on a daily basis using a calendar or you can have all of the days written on index cards with magnets attached.  Put the day of the week on the fridge with your child first thing in the morning.
  • Teach body parts by making it into a game.  See how fast they can point to their various body parts.  You can also make a large cutout of a doll and then make cutouts of eyes, a mouth, hands, feet, etc.  Have them put the body parts where they belong.  You can do this with clothing cutouts also.
A lot of the time, you teach your child these things just from everyday life when the opportunity arises. 

Here are a list of websites to check out for activities, crafts, and theme ideas:

Curriculum ideas
Family Education
Gayle's Preschool Rainbow

Crafts and activities
Disney Family Fun
Enchanted Learning

I also did a post awhile ago about online games for kids (many educational), click here to check it out.


Confessions From A Working Mom said...

HOLY COW is this a comprehensive list! I thought you were going to give us a few ideas, but this is really something! My mom stayed at home with me, but sent me to montessori school at 3 for "social skills". I will probably do the same with G (even though I work, she has a nanny at our house).

Confessions From A Working Mom

Lourie said...

Wow! This is a great list!!! Thanks for all the links.

Mrs. Addison said...

What great ideas - really a wonderful post! I'm homeschooling and I know a lot of these will be good for my preschool-aged son! :)

The Girl Next Door Grows Up said...

That was a great post! We do a lot of that. Everything is learning and you don't even realize it!

Although now I am sad, thinking of September (sniff)


chubskulit said...

Hi there, thanks for the visit. The reward chart is a very good idea. Thanks for these tips. I did not let my kids go to pre-school, I just teach them stuff at home.

With the potty training, you can start by talking to her about being abig kid. I don't knbow, every child is different though, I had no problem with my daughter at all but with my son, he waited until he was three then he was ready. Some kids are willing to try it at early age but others doesn't. You can let them do it in their own terms but encouraging them is a good thing too.

hypermom said...

Am sure your tips are going to be handy once our littlest one grows up some more.

Pretty picture! :)

bigguysmama said...

Fantastic list! Will be great for moms of preschoolers!

~Mimi @ MBC Round Up

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