Thursday, December 17, 2009

Playing to Learn

It's back to school time for our young ones. Some are returning for yet another year, some venturing off for the first time. Some really wish they were big enough to go play, too. So what can we do for our preschool age kids at home? What are some fun, creative ways to stimulate little minds? Here are a few tried and true ideas...

1. ABC Art.
Materials...Craft paper, glue sticks, scissors, markers...sequins, glitter, ribbon, etc. are optional.

Draw the shape of each letter on a different color of craft paper. For each letter, choose an animal/object to create. A for ant, B for ball, C for cat, D for dog, etc.

Decorate each letter and hang them around your child's room. Try to do one letter a week, practicing the letter sounds with your child and trying to come up with words that use the weeks letter.

Have your child practice writing each letter as you go. Their first attempts may be shaky, but they'll get it!

2. Rhyming games. Preschoolers love rhymes. The rhymes help with memory, and 'finger rhymes' help with manual dexterity. A link to some simple and fun rhyme games is

3. Homemade finger paint. Maybe your little one will be the next Picasso. Foster his or her creative side with this simple finger paint recipe.
INGREDIENTS: 1/2 cup cornstarch, 3 Tbsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2 c. cold water, food coloring.

In a medium pan, mix all the ingredients together. Cook over low heat 10 to 15 minutes. Keep stirring mixture until it is smooth and thick. After the mixture has thickened take the pan off the stove and let the mixture cool.

After the mixture cools, divide it into storage containers, one for each color you would like. Add a few drops of food coloring to each container. Stir the coloring in until you get the color you want. You're ready to finger paint. Cover tightly when storing.

4. Easy 'Kool-Aid' play dough.
Kids love play dough, and it is really simple to make.

Mix 2 pkg. of unsweetened Kool-aid with 2 c. hot water until dissolved. Add 1 T. vegetable oil to kool-aid water. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine 2 1/2 c. flour, 1 c. salt, 1 t. cream of tartar. Add kool-aid water to dry ingredients and mix well. Add 2 - 3 additional cups of flour as needed. Store in air-tight container.

5. Printables. Many websites offer printable worksheets geared specifically toward preschoolers. Some are: (alphabet and numbers) (worksheet games) (customizable kids writing papers)

6. Computer fun. There are many games and websites for preschoolers. Some games to check out are JumpStart Advanced Preschool, Arthur's Preschool, and the Dr. Suess 'read alongs'.

Some great websites with games just for preschoolers are:

Peep and the Big Wide World

Sesame Street Central


Everything Preschool


There are a wealth of activities, crafts, and much more available on the web, at your local library, and in you own back yard! Have fun learning with your preschooler.

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