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Activities and Fun Things to Do with Preschoolers

Tiffany Smith
July 21, 2017

Pretend play, stories and songs, and day trips



She is stubborn, prone to tantrums and easily gets antsy, but a preschooler won't turn into the devil incarnate if you can keep her occupied. You don't have to run a non-stop circus, however.

Traditional games are fine to keep preschool aged kids busy, but even better are activities that will have a lasting educational impact. Use these important learning goals for 3- to 5-year-olds as a basis for playtime.

Pretend Play

  • Tea party. Have the preschooler host a tea party for dolls, stuffed animals and you. Invite others -- whether siblings or sitters -- to join in on the make-believe play to develop social skills, in addition to imagination.
  • Cooking or store. If the child has Little Tikes or similar plastic food and playsets at home, encourage her to re-enact familiar scenarios from real life. Or she can use older pots and pans. By driving the action herself, she's learning to develop narratives.
  • Dress up. Allow her to put on and take off costumes herself, which teaches hand-eye coordination in addition to creativity and role playing.

Stories and Songs

  • Story time. Read stories often. Ask questions about what objects the preschooler might see in picture books, and encourage the child to ask about any words she doesn't understand. This develops comprehension and vocabulary skills. It also provides important fodder for pretend play.
  • Sing songs. Build listening, voice and language skills by singing favorite songs like "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." Adding the hand and body movements also develops hand-eye coordination and memory building.
  • Foreign languages. Encourage word association and second-language building at this age in a game form. Take a handful of familiar objects such as "ball" or "train" and teach them in Spanish, French or American Sign Language.

Day Trips

  • Take advantage of social and cultural opportunities. Preschoolers are curious about the world around them. A day trip -- even if it only lasts a couple of hours -- will occupy a preschooler while providing important social and cultural experiences. If you visit local museums and art galleries, point out colors and shapes. "Please touch" museums and exhibits encourage kids in pre-k to explore with their eyes and hands.
  • Visit a park. Spending time at a park that is frequented by children of the same age can be a healthy, fun and inexpensive outing.
  • Explore your neighborhood. Walk around your neighborhood looking for acorns, leaves, bugs or architectural features, which can teach your children to observe the world around them more closely.

Preschoolers are like sponges of social and cultural information. Plan activities that will both entertain and educate them, and you'll both have a great time.

 For more preschooler activities, try these Rainy Day Activities for Kids.

Tiffany Smith is the senior associate editor here at Care.com. She has written for All You, Time for Kids and the Boston Globe. And as a former babysitter, she knows a lot about fun games to play with kids. Getting them to eat their veggies -- that’s a different story! Follow her on Twitter at @tiffanyiswrite


I love to cook/bake with my 4-y/o. The pampered chef chopper is awesome for little hands to help out in the kitchen but also keeps them safe. Squishing burger (worms) with clean hands to help make meatballs can be great fun. Get (or make) the little one their own special apron used just for cooking activities. Homemade bread, french bread pizza, jello, quesadillas, Rice Krispie treats are ALL kid friendly interactive things to do in the kitchen (and that they're likely to eat). Don't forget to allow EXTRA time for prep with little ones....double the time (per child) it would normally take you to prepare the same meal. Most of all....make it FUN for them....it's okay if it's not perfect!

Sept. 9, 2013

Children minds are always on the go and need to be fed positive learning activities, ideas and experiences. In my child care we do all kinds of things. We do a lot of baking cookies, we make salt dough cut outs to bake and paint, we finger paint with not only paint but colored shaving cream, we glue macaroni and buttons on paper, we string macaroni to make things, we make paper chains which they love to string from chair to chair, we build forts out of blankets and eat our lunch or snacks under them, we go on little walks around the yard and look for butterflies, bugs and different flowers and plants, we read lots of books, we sing, do free dance with bend and stretch exercises for little kids, we make little things for each holiday (Pintrest) is an excellent site to find stuff like that for preschoolers. As a grandmother of 8 I spend more time on my knees crawling around on the floor with the children than I did when my own children were little. Children are our future and look up to us. It is our duty to teach them well and to be their own person.

Aug. 27, 2013

With a little imagination and creativity, any child can be entertained! Great ideas thanks!

Dec. 4, 2012

I Love Finding New Fun Activities For The Kids To Do!

Nov. 27, 2012

kids love playing with digital gadgets, so let them play free learning apps on your IPAD. Its entertaining for them and it can help you out when there being impatient at the grocery store, just turn the volume off.

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