How To Plan Preschool Activities:
Keeping Little Hands Busy & Minds Engaged

How To Plan Preschool Activities

Preschool teachers (and parents) are always on the look-out for preschool activities and lesson plans that are developmentally appropriate.  Whether you are searching for fun, rainy day activities or lesson plans to teach a topic or theme, you have come to the right place.

The ideas you will find below have been "field-tested" and enjoyed by many children over the years. You will need to use your judgment, based on your knowledge and experience with the children in your care, on which will need to be adapted for your children.

Feel free to take these ideas and, using your creative imagination, turn them into something better. Perhaps substitute a material, change the order of the directions, or expand an idea into something more.

Preparation for Preschool Activities

Preschool Activities

Have you ever heard the saying, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail?" That saying couldn't be truer when it comes to preschool activities! Preschool children have shorter attention spans and preparation will save you and the children time by having activities prepared in advance.

The first suggestion is to read through your plans in advance.  Many times, you have written your plans up in advance.  Take a few moments to look over your plans and write up a supply list.  Know in advance what you will need

Second, gather all the materials that you will need. There is nothing worse than planning to do a fun activity, telling the children about it, having them get excited about it, and then realizing you don't have the yarn needed for the lacing. Yep – I've been there too! So, make sure you have all the materials you need set aside.  I use daily bins for this.

Third, you may want to consider doing a trial run of the preschool activity if it's new to you or looks like it may be complicated. Some activities may need tweaking, especially if you are changing an "ingredient" or based on what you know about your child's skills and abilities.

Materials List

How to plan preschool activities

A great question that is asked often is, "How do you organize all these materials?" There are several options, based on your own preference and circumstances.

Daily bins are fantastic!  They are small enough to not take up too much room, but large enough to hold what YOU need. You can ask parents and other family members to donate them. Another option is to use shoe boxes.  I prefer the daily, plastic bins as they hold more materials!  Label the outside of each box with the day of the week and you are ready to go!

If you have small projects or activities that need to be organized, plastic Ziploc-type bags can work well. These also come in many sizes so are quite versatile. The cost is significantly lower than totes, so this could be a more viable option.

Safety First

Since we are working with young children, we need to keep safety in the forefront of our minds for these preschool activities. Here are some reminders:

  • SUPERVISION is key!!! Stay close to your child(ren) while they are working.
  • Small objects, like dry beans, marbles, etc. are a choking hazard.  Be mindful of the children in your care who are still oral.
  • Have towels and sponges handy for quick clean up for any water activities.
  • Teach and model safe behaviors with scissors.  Show them how to hold them when walking (by holding the blade side, not walking with the blade side pointing out).
  • Some things must ONLY be done by an adult – like hot glue guns, using hot water, cutting objects, etc.

18 Preschool Activities!

Below you will find 18 general preschool activities. These do not necessarily fit into a specific category.

  1. Fill a bucket full of water and let children use paintbrushes to paint outside
  2. Use rollers, toothpicks, and cookie cutters to make fun shapes out of homemade playdough
  3. Give children a large cardboard box and let them use their imaginations to decide how to play with it (train car, airplane, fort, etc.)
  4. Make a necklace with string and an assortment of materials: beads, cereal, dry noodles, etc.
  5. Create an indoor sandbox by filling a shoebox with sand and have child play with spoons, cups, and small cars (alternate fun is to fill with rice!)
  6. 2 words: Sidewalk. Chalk.
  7. Cover chairs with blankets, secure with clothespins, and voila - a tent! Complete the experience with pillows, a flashlight, and s'mores
  8. Build a tower with items from your recycling bin.
  9. Give kids your "button box" and let them sort by different attributes - color, size, number of holes
  10. Let children practice lacing and tying knots with old sneakers
  11. Fill a shallow pan or bowl with water and set on a towel. Allow children to sail boats, let their toys go "swimming", or use measuring cups
  12. Find a cloth measuring tape or plastic ruler and have children measure objects around the classroom
  13. Stickers + blank paper = busy children
  14. Give children a damp washcloth and let them help you clean the classroom!
  15. Put a small amount of shaving cream in a pie pan or cookie sheet and watch as children "write" and draw
  16. What to do with all those old magazines? Put them out with scissors, paper and glue sticks! They love cutting out pictures and it's great practice for their fine motor skills
  17. Use a magnifying glass to go on a "Looking Adventure".
  18. Create a scavenger hunt for your kids to follow.

Preschool Activities by Category

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