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Play Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Updated on April 2, 2014
hoora for play dough
hoora for play dough

Toddlers, Preschoolers and Play Activities

Ever have one of those days where the kids are always tugging at your shirt and wanting all of your attention, all of the time. If you have toddlers and preschoolers, I suppose I should ask ever not have one of those days?

At our home, we have four little ones, all girls. They are aged two, three, four and five.

There are some advantages to having four little ones under one roof. It is nice that they each have playmates readily available. It’s great that they never get lonely.

On the flip side of that, there is chaos, and noise. There are arguments and sibling rivalry. There is commotion most of the time, and when one comes down with an illness, it is almost certain that the others will follow.

Today, I want to give you a few suggestions of activities for the youngsters that keep us sane. I like to use the “divide and conquer” strategy. Having four little ones, I usually divide them in to two groups of two. Of course this is not always the case, but it does come in handy. With this in mind, I am always on the lookout for activities for them that are fun, inexpensive and ready to prepare.

We have a cupboard in our living room that we have a safety lock on. This holds many of their “when in need activities”. It helps to have them all in one place and easy to access at any time. By keeping it locked, the kids can’t get them whenever they please, but rather when it’s a special time. Also, these items don’t get broken or torn as a lot of their other toys and belongings do.

With four little ones, we have two child sized tables with four little chairs, so they can sit at them and be at the proper height.

One of the favorites of the kids of course is play dough time. Keep a variety of colors and textures on hand. Yes, they make them with textures now, like sprinkle dough. It’s a good idea to have several cookie cutters and play dough cutters in several shapes and sizes, as well as the little rolling pins on hand. Keep these in the cupboard as well, so you don’t have to go hunting for new things each time the play dough comes out. This keeps them occupied and happy for a little while. As I said before, I usually sit two to a table for play dough time.

While two are playing with play dough, I have another activity for the other two children. Puzzles are another favorite. You know your child and you know their capabilities. It is best to keep them challenged, but not frustrated. The age suggested on the packaging of puzzles might not be the level your child is able to complete. Also the type of puzzle is relevant. The wooden ones with cut out shapes and pegs on them are great for toddlers. After that, they can work on wooden puzzles without the pegs. This will entertain them for a short while, but remember that the attention span of a preschooler is not that long, so don’t expect them to be able to sit down and work on a puzzle for a long period of time.

I also have purchased some of the special puzzles that have added features. For example, one of our puzzles is also a game and has a little seal that swims around the track when you put the puzzle together. It can be put together in different ways to give the seal different routes to swim. The kids just love this one.

Decks of preschoolers’ card games are available quite inexpensively as well. You can teach them how to play fish, or old maid with these. You will need to have two children to play these games together or you can play them with your child.

We also keep lacing cards in our cupboard. This is a fun activity for children, especially if it is not something that is made available for them every day.

Special books are also kept for special times. By these, I mean books that have the flaps to look under or search to find books, such as I Spy.

We have some sequencing sets that we keep in Ziploc bags. The ones we have are small cards for small hands and small items that match the pictures on the cards. It comes complete with colorful, plastic manipulatives. The child is to find the correlating item and place it on the card over the identical picture. Ours have red and green apples, leaves and squirrels. These keep our kids content for a while and they are happy when they succeed at finding the items and putting them on the right picture.

We don’t keep the children’s ordinary coloring books on these shelves, as they are something the kids can have whenever they want to color. However we do keep special craft items like large stampers and ink pads for table time.

These are just a few of the items we keep on hand. I hope that I’ve given you some ideas that you can build on. I will write similar articles in the future with other suggested activities. Until then, have fun and keep sane!


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      Johnk493 3 years ago

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    • westernangel profile image

      westernangel 8 years ago from Canada

      Write at Home - Glad you were able to get some ideas from this hub. Enjoy the activities. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Write at Home profile image

      Write at Home 8 years ago

      There are some great suggestions here. I'm always on the lookout for good ideas to entertain my two year old - thanks for writing this hub!