Our talented friend, Kendra from Southern Disposition is a super mom to one adorable, smart, and active preschooler. We’re thrilled that she agreed to share with us this amazingly brilliant list of the amazingly awesome activity ideas she created to keep her preschooler occupied and engaged. Not quite at preschool level yet? No worries. You can still challenge your toddler with many of the ideas on this list. Check it out! >
Sometimes my mommy brain needs a little creative prodding (does yours?). I want to do fun things with Sadie, but when I’m dry on ideas, we pop in a DVD. Don’t judge me…you do it too. I recently went looking for a list of good activities that met some or all of the following criteria:
- rainy day activities
- sunny day activities
- activities that teach a life skill
- activities that teach basic kindergarten readiness
- activities that are free (or nearly free)
- activities that require interaction
- activities that spark curiosity
I found a few good ideas, but mostly, I saw a lot of “go outside and play” or “stay inside and play” type suggestions. While those are indeed excellent suggestions, I decided to make my own list so that other mommies who are potentially struggling with the “what should I do with my kid today” rut will have a few fresh ideas!
Here’s a handy-dandy list of 101 Amazingly Awesome Things to do with Your Preschooler. (ok, a few of them aren’t amazingly awesome, but 97 of them are.)
1. Pick dandelions and sort them by blossom size – they get “flowers” and you get free weeding! Put them in a little glass of water on the dining room table.
2. Cook spaghetti together. Let your child pour in the sauce, pour water (from a pitcher) into the pot, and break the noodles.
3. Paint on a canvas. Here’s a project idea to help spark your creative juices.
4. Open a blank document and let them type words that you spell for them (or their name) on your computer.
5. Lie outside on a blanket and point out shapes in the clouds.
6. Take a plastic baggie on a nature walk, and ask your child to find ten different things. Lay out the collection of found nature objects and compare their shapes, colors, textures, and smells.
7. Make sidewalk chalk art. Teach your child how to play hopscotch!
8. Dye eggs. (Who says you have to wait for Easter?)
9. Play “I Spy” with letters of the alphabet and/or household objects (“I spy something that starts with the letter ‘W’” or “I spy something that plugs in,”)
10. Sort something by color together (clothes, toys, books, etc).
11. Go to a hardware store and pick out a bunch of paint chip strips. Cut out the squares and glue pairs of them back-to-back on a length of string to make a paint chip garland (the string should be between the back-to-back paint chip pieces when you glue them together). Here’s a way you can put your garland to good use.
12. Play “Follow the leader.”
13. Look at old photos and point out friends and family members. Talk about how they are different now.
14. Eat a spoonful of peanut butter. Or Nutella. Or something else that should probably be forbidden to be eaten by the spoonful. Pretend it’s an extra special amazing treat and you’re only giving it to them because you’re the best mom (or dad) ever.
15. Move the living room furniture, put blankets and pillows on the floor, pop popcorn, and watch a movie.
16. Have a family game night…stack up games like Candy Land, Guess Who?, and Chutes and Ladders, and play until bed time.
17. Teach your child how to use your camera (or get them one of their own), and let them take a picture of you. Print it, frame it, and put it in their room.
18. Put on jeans and long-sleeve shirts and roll down a hill together.
19. Tell a story about when they were a baby.
20. Tell a story about when YOU were a baby.
21. Pull up blades of grass and sort them from smallest to tallest. Practice whistling through grass.
22. Teach them how to taste honeysuckle.
23. Sort jewelry by color, then re-sort by type.
24. Line up the stuffed animals on the sofa in the living room, give your kiddo a microphone (or a hairbrush, or a magic wand), and let them perform their favorite song.
25. Throw a sheet over the dining room table and make a fort underneath.
26. Match socks. Use the leftover ones to make sock puppets.
27. Have a conversation with them that aims at teaching them something. Talk about the function of the dishwasher as you unload it (“What do you think this does with the dishes?”) or about why the ice in their drink melts when you pour them a glass of water (“Do you think the ice will stay in there forever? Will it melt? Why?”)
28. Make music out of kitchen utensils.
29. Ask your child what their favorite animal is, what they think it eats, where they think it lives, etc. Then let them help you figure out what letter their animal starts with, ask them to help you find that letter encyclopedia, and look it up (yeah…like in a book.). Show them a picture of their animal and read them some interesting information.
30. Go to a park that has a playground and give them a quest (“Let’s pretend that play structure is a ship!”)
31. Go to a park without a playground. Take a ball or a bike.
32. Blow bubbles and try to catch them on the wand as they fall without making them pop.
33. Let your child cut the letters of their name out of a magazine with safety scissors and paste the letters (in order) onto paper.
34. Let your child cut out “things they love” in a magazine with safety scissors and use them to make a collage. Parenting magazines and magazines specifically for kids are great for this!
35. Have a tickle fight.
36. Have a pillow fight.
37. Roll your kids up in blankets and pretend they’re cocoons. See who can get out of their cocoon first and turn into a butterfly.
38. Put on relaxing music and do some yoga together…or pretend to do some yoga together. They’ll never know the difference.
39. Play with play dough.
40. Spell words and play word games with magnetic letters (“Which one spells ‘Daddy?’ Is this word ‘cat’ or ‘bat?’”).
41. Go outside and spin in circles until you get dizzy and fall over…it’s fun to watch kids walk after this.
42. Make a sensory box out of dry rice or beans and a shallow plastic container with a lid. Use funnels, measuring cups, and other containers to play in the box.
43. Spray shaving cream on a cookie sheet and write, draw, and sculpt with it.
44. Put six clear glasses on a table. Put a half cup of water in three of them – one with several drops of red food coloring, one with blue food coloring, and one with yellow food coloring. Use the empty three glasses to figure out what colors red+blue, blue+yellow, and yellow+red make when they are mixed together.
45. Shine a flashlight onto the wall in a dark room and make shadow puppets.
46. Let your kid pick out (or make) thank you notes and then USE them.
47. Show your child how to read the numbers on the digital clock on the cable box or the microwave (super helpful with keeping morning routines on track!).
48. Cut shapes out of construction paper, and then give your child school glue and dictate a sequence to them (“first, glue the big yellow square in the middle of the page, now glue the red circle to the top of the square, and now put the three little blue triangles inside the square”). Praise them for their ability to follow directions well. Praise yourself for reinforcing shapes, colors, patience, fine motor skills, and following directions all in the same activity.
49. Make letter shapes with your bodies.
50. Introduce your kid to classical music while riding in the car (You know…the station is always something like 89.7 or 90.5…you’ll find it). Ask them questions about the music, (“Do you hear the violin? The flute is making this sound [insert your best flute imitation here]”).
Do you have an amazingly awesome activity idea for toddlers (or any age or stage)? Share it with us in the comments below!