10 Free Preschool Games for Your 3- to 5-Year-Old
Combine learning and play with these free games your preschooler will love.
You're constantly amazed at how fast your preschooler masters technology. As long as he isn't accidentally texting your boss, this can be a good thing. Offer him free preschool games to play and he can hone some serious life skills. He doesn't have to know he's learning -- he's just having a good time.
Benefits of Technology for Preschoolers
Some parents feel preschool-age kids shouldn't have access to technology. Of course, you don't want to park children in front of a TV all day and supply them with mindless video games, but technology isn't always a bad thing.
"High-quality digital learning experiences can help children in many ways, from growing their vocabulary to building basic skills across a range of academic subjects to strengthening their hand-eye coordination and ability to follow directions," says Rebecca A. Palacios, a senior curriculum adviser for ABCmouse.com, who has more than 20 years of experience in early childhood education. She explains that educational apps and games are effective because kids want to use them which encourages them to associate learning with fun. That can't be a bad thing! If your child sees learning as a fun activity she wants to do, there's no limit to what she can learn and accomplish.
"Current research is showing us that learning and entertainment go hand in hand. In fact, 'edutainment' may be the future of teaching and learning," says Lois Jean Brady, a speech pathologist and author of "Apps for Autism." When it comes to finding good options for your 3- to 5-year-old, wading through the hundreds of apps and games available for preschoolers can be a bit overwhelming.
Here are some of Brady's favorites:
- WordWorld Tales
This app from PBS Kids teaches early literacy skills. Your child creates adventures using different reading skills in each "appisode."
- FunBrain Jr.
An assortment of learning games that teach reading readiness, problem solving and computer skills, you'll find mazes, rhyming games, color games and more. Play on the computer or download the FunBrain app.
- Endless Alphabet
This is a puzzle game that helps kids learn more than 70 words and their definitions.
And here are more free preschool games for your child to enjoy:
- Endless Reader
If you enjoyed Endless Alphabet, you'll want to download Endless Reader. Kids solve word puzzles and learn sight words. There are additional packs you can purchase for this app after your kids have learned the initial six words.
- Rhyme Time Matching
This reading readiness game teaches listening skills, phonics, memorization and articulation while children match pictures.
- Numbers Ice Cream Attack
Kids freeze the sun with ice cream while learning to recognize numbers.
- Alien Assignment
Go on a scavenger hunt to help aliens rebuild their ship so the Glop family can go back home. Kids get to take pictures of the items they find. This is an active app, encouraging kids to find things around the house while developing problem solving skills.
- Blue's Gold Clues Challenge
Kids collect clues while improving their skills in color identification, counting, number recognition and shapes.
- Counting in the Kitchen
Help Floyd feed those hungry customers by bringing them the right stack of burgers. This game teaches counting skills.
- Dora and Friends: Magical Mermaid Adventure
In this sorting game from Nick Jr., kids help Dora clean up Playa Verde Beach and then go with Dora on an undersea adventure.
Keep in mind that learning -- and fun -- should come from a variety of sources. Spending too much time on apps and online games will limit your child's other learning experiences as well as his social development. "It's absolutely essential that children engage in many activities to develop physically," says Palacios. "Educational apps and online games should not replace physical activities in a child's day but rather should complement those activities."
And try these Activities and Fun Things to Do With Preschoolers.
Kathleen Marshall is a freelance writer who homeschooled her five children. She was often thankful for educational games that could give her a break while her kids kept learning. Of course, they thought they were just having fun.
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