Play is an essential part of your preschoolers’ learning and development. That is what makes educational games and activities so critical both while at school and at home!
At CLC, our play-based learning philosophy allows children to discover the world at their own pace through hands-on, fun activities. All of our classrooms use the Creative Curriculum, which is backed by comprehensive child development research. The curriculum is built upon hands-on learning, sensory awareness, creative expression, multicultural socialization and lessons that develop literacy and science skills, as well as self-esteem and physical development.
When it comes to using play as vehicle for learning, utilizing both games and activities is a perfect option both in the classroom and at home.
Below, you will find a game or activity that helps with each of several skills developed in preschool, including cognition, social and emotional development, physical health and development, language and literacy, creative arts, mathematics, science and social studies.
The teachers at CLC participate in many of theses activities with students in the classroom. But, they can also be done while you are at home with your child! Many of these activities and games can be done using items that you already have at home such as paper, crayons, dolls, stuffed animals and other toys and items. Each activity allows you the flexibility to get creative and use what you already have!
Cognition involves preschool children developing skills in exploring, asking questions, making choices, remembering and recalling.
Read a fairytale with your child, such as The Three Little Pigs, The Three Bears and The Gingerbread Boy. Provide storybooks, storybook characters and props like puppets, dolls and stuffed animals to encourage your child to build the setting in a dramatic play area and act out the story. This can be a great activity for siblings to participate in together!
Get your child involved by asking them what their favorite storybook is and asking them to act that out for you! Create an even larger audience for their dramatic show by lining up dolls and stuffed animals who can watch along with you.
Social and Emotional Development
Social and emotional development involves relating to others, caring, showing affection, developing relationships, safety and well-being.
Social and emotional development is a crucial part of preschool. It’s the age children begin to understand the causes of their emotions. Empathy also emerges and for many, it’s the first time they are asked to regulate emotions around people outside of their families.
Yale researchers, along with CLC teachers, administrators, children and families have created the first early childhood version of the breakthrough RULER program, an innovative approach to social and emotional development. It’s all about helping children manage their emotions to create a better place for learning. Learn more about the RULER program here.
Create a Mood Meter! This can be done using a ruler, paper and coloring supplies to represent how your child is feeling. Ask your child open ended questions (that don’t simply require a yes or no answer) to develop language and knowledge of feeling words. Encourage your child to express their feelings and ask them why they feel the way they do and what makes them feel certain emotions. Emotions are a great conversation starter between you and your child that allows you to share your emotions with them, as well.
Learn more about the mood meter and why it’s so helpful for preschool children’s social and emotional development, here.
Physical Health and Development
Physical health and development involve teaching preschool children to eat healthy, participate in physical activity and help with self care.
Create an obstacle course for gross motor time either indoors or outdoors. Your child can climb, jump, run, walk, skip, hop, slide, through the course while developing large motor skills. Use items around the house like chairs, a laundry basket, hula hoop, a bouncy ball, bucket and anything else that could be fun and safe to create the obstacle course.
This is a game that you can do over and over again by simply switching out the obstacles in your obstacle course with new ones! That way, the obstacle course is a little bit different each time your child does it and never gets boring for your child!
Language and Literacy
Language and literacy involves teaching preschoolers how to interact with people, talking, enjoying books, songs and writing, as well as expressing ideas, needs and feelings.
Use the Mood Meter you created and pictures to depict different feelings to encourage your child to identify each feeling. Then, create a “How I Feel” booklet with your child so that they can practice writing feeling words such as happy, sad, calm, angry/mad. Have your child draw a picture to go along with each feeling they write down.
Creative arts include your preschool child enjoying music, dancing, making art, creating music and being creative mediums.
Play different genres of music for your child and give your child colored scarves to dance with. Your child will dance to each genre as the music makes them feel. This is a fun activity for the whole family to participate in together! Try having a family dance party with your child before or after dinner. At the end, you can even ask your child what song they like dancing to the most.
Mathematic skills for preschool students involve counting, measuring and comparing.
Have your child practice counting and cardinality using blocks, teddy bears and even counting the letters in their name. When counting the number of letters in words, you can create a graph of the names of your family members using words like biggest, smallest, more, less, longest, shortest.
Organize and play Bingo games with matching numbers, shapes or letters. You can find ways to incorporate counting in many of your child’s favorite games at home. Ask your child what other items around the house would be fun to count. Do they have a collection of cars or dolls? Ask them to count how many they have while they play!
Science for preschoolers involves exploring, experimenting, investigating and learning about living things
Provide your child with cars and trucks of all different sizes, as well as ramps (you can even build a ramp out of cardboard) and put the ramps different angles. Perhaps one can lean against the couch, another against a stack of blocks and another against a chair.
Have your child push each car or truck down the ramps empty and then loaded with items like sticks, leaves and bark. Encourage your child to notice the speed of the trucks and how the speed changes between when the truck is empty and when it is loaded with items. Even load one truck up, leave the other truck empty and have them race. Who wins and why?
By playing on the ramps with cars and trucks of different sizes and weight, you will help your child gain investigating scientific skills as they experiment with velocity.
Social studies include your preschooler understanding family, listening to stories about the past and recognizing how people are both the same and different.
Read your child stories about families from different cultures. Using paper, crayons, and glue, help your child create a family picture or collage with pictures that represented their culture and their family. At CLC, each child creates their family picture or collage at home and then they bring the finished product into school and the teachers create a classroom quilt with everyone’s creation!
Reading books with your child about diversity is another good way to begin teaching social studies. Some of the books that the teachers at CLC enjoy reading to promote diversity include:
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong
Hair Love by Matthew Cherry
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
I Am Enough by Grace Byers
Under My Hijab by Hena Khan
To learn more about why play is such an important part of your preschooler’s education, the NAEYC outlines 10 Things Every Parent Should Know About Play. In the article, the NAEYC explains that play is more than meets the eye, from symbolic to dramatic, functional, and games with rules it can even be used to reduce stress and anxiety in children.
Play and learning go hand-in-hand. Best of all, play is an easy and fun way to help your child learn while you are at home and spending time together! These activities and games can be played while you are at home with your child in the evening or during weekends when you are looking for something fun to do together.
For more fun activities to participate in at home with your preschooler, order CLC’s Play to Learn Book.
Children's Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) is committed to providing early childhood education for all families, with direct services and programs focused in health, nutrition & family support for children aged 6 weeks - 5 years of age. Find more information about enrollment, here!