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Games to Play with Preschoolers

Updated on December 20, 2011

Help! My preschooler's bored!

All parents of young children have days when the hours seem to drag by and they find themselves asking, "So what do we do now?" Here are some useful tips, links to sites and books that will help you find new ways to answer that question. Hopefully, they will give you some ideas for how to spend many happy hours playing, exploring and learning with your preschooler.

Arts and Crafts ideas

Get out some paint, glue, scissors, and anything else you can find. The messier the better...cut...

Modern Art - Find a stiff piece of cardboard (or use a paper plate) and collect some small objects from around the house. Some suggestions include milk jug lids, juice lids, paper-clips, cut up straws and bits of foil. Let your child arrange them and glue them on.

Mural Painting - Tape a very large sheet of paper to the wall. Get out crayons, markers, and paint. Cover the whole sheet and use it to decorate a wall in your child's room or somewhere else in the house.

Shape Pictures - This is an easy craft your child can do entirely on his or her own. Cut out a variety of shapes ahead of time (circles, squares, triangles, stars, ovals, rectangles, etc.) Give them a sheet of paper and some glue. They can arrange them in any number of different ways to create pictures and designs.

Finger Puppets - Make fun puppets out the socks your child has out-grown. Decorate them with markers, yarn, foam sheets, and scraps of fabric.

Make your own Puzzle - Have your child make a collage on cardboard using magazine pictures or printed pictures of your family. Cover the collage with clear contact paper and cut into puzzle piece shapes. Your child will have a blast assembling the puzzle over and over again.

Make your own Volcano - Classic, but still fun - Make it as simple as a juice can, or paper-mache - a bit if vinegar, food coloring and baking soda and have some fun.

Fun outdoor activities

Scavenger Hunt - Go for a walk around the neighborhood, in a park, or just in you own back yard. Take along a list of things you might find (a rock, a leaf, three sticks, an acorn, etc) and a paper bag. See if you can collect them all.

Photo Scavenger Hunt - This is a variation of the activity above. If your child has their own camera or you have one you don't mind them using take it along instead of the paper bag. Make a list of things to find and snap pictures of what you see.

Cloud watching - On a nice day have a snack outside and lie down in the grass to watch some clouds. You may be surprised at the things your child will see in them.

Tickle Tag - This is just like regular tag except whoever gets tagged gets tickled.

Kickball - Collect as many balls as you can find. Use balls of all sizes and types. Line them up in the yard and let your child go from ball to ball seeing how far they can kick them.

Obstacle Course - Arrange lawn chairs, balls, cardboard boxes, and patio furniture around the yard. Have a starting point and a finish. Then let your child crawl under, climb over, and run around the objects.

Great Activities for Indoors

Fishing - Cut a lot of pieces of paper into fish shapes. Write some quick activities on the back (such as "touch something blue", "sing your ABCs", "jump up and down", "run around the room" or "clap your hands"). Put a paper-clip on each fish. Then tie a strong magnet onto a piece of string and let your preschooler "go fishing" over the back of the couch or chair.

Counting - Go through the whole house and count things. Count your windows, your doorknobs, your cups, your canned goods, your bookshelves or anything else you can think of.

Sandbox - This activity can be done with a lot of different things or all of them combined. Fill a large bowl or box with flour, puffed rice or wheat cereal, uncooked rice, or oatmeal. Play in the bowl or box with shovels, toy cars, cups, and other sand toys.

Hide the toy - Pick a favorite toy, have your child leave the room and hide it. when they find it have them hide it from you. To make the game more interesting you can play it at night and find the toy with flashlights.

Treasure Hunt -Hide a special surprise somewhere in the house. Then write out a series of clues (one clue points you to the next)to lead your child to it. Hide the clues around the house as well. Then run around to find the surprise.

Educational Ideas

Some simple (and fun!) things to help your child learn.

Count Things – go around the house and count. Count shoes, spoons, windows, blankets – anything goes. Kids will have a blast finding objects.

Don’t Forget to Read – Reading is important and you can always dress it up to make it more fun. Act out a story, draw a picture of your favorite part, spend the day pretending you are your favorite character, or invent a new ending to one of your favorite books. Adding these activities to storytime can make your child enjoy the experience even more.

Cook – Letting your child help in the kitchen can teach math and science skills. Cooking teaches fractions, adding, following directions, and measuring so go ahead

For more learning ideas and resources visit this great site. They offer a preschool curriculum you can teach to your child from your own home.

Ways for Preschoolers to Help Out.

Start out by making a chore chart for your child. Write the things the kids do to help out a have a spot next to each one for stickers. Each time they help they get stickers.

Some things you can put on the chart are:

Feed pets. (with help)

Pick up toys. This can be more enjoyable if you make it into a game. Race to who can pick up the most toys or set a timer and have your child try to beat their own time.

Sort the clothes. They can sort them by color before they are washed and by who they belong to when they are done.

Wash Bath Toys. Fill a bowl or the sink with water and dish soap, give your child a washcloth and let them scrub their toys. This will keep them busy while you tackle other chores.

Help with Dinner. Young children can wash vegetables, set the table, put salads together, and open boxes.

TV Time Poll

Hear's your chance to share your opinions on parenting and see what other parents think. Questions will be updated frequently and results posted.

How much tv should preschoolers watch?

See results

Links to activity pages for young children

These sites have a lot of ideas for what to do when boredom strikes. You can get some great ideas here that will help you plan your days with your preschooler. There are many fun and creative ways to spend time learning, growing, and having fun together.

Fun Books on Amazon

These books have been a great help to me in coming up with fun and games to keep my son busy on those days when I just can't think of anything new. They are a lifesaver, and even if you have a great imagination, I recommend having at least one of these around for emergencies!

Children's Music on Amazon

Seasonal Ideas

Check back frequently because these ideas and links change every month.

Fall is Almost Here!"

Leaf Book- Get outside and find some leaves! Have children glue a leaf onto each page of a simple homemade book then write facts about the tree it came from.

Decorate for Halloween- Make the house spooky! Buy some cheap spiders web decorations and let the children string them all over the house. Add simple spiders made from pipe cleaners and simple tissue ghosts (wad up half a tissue into a ball and wrap a twist tie around it for a head let the rest hang down for the body) to make the room even spookier. The kids will have a blast but decorate close to Halloween as the webs might wind up anywhere.

Make Hand print Bats - Have children dip each hand in black paint and make two prints on a piece of paper with the bottom of the palms touching. These are the wings of the bat. Once the paint is dry decorate with googly eyes, moon and star stickers, or anything else you might choose.

Make an Acorn Picture Frame - Collect a bunch of acorn tops, bake them in the oven at 225 degrees for about 40 minutes to kill any bugs or germs remaining on them, and then glue them onto a simple wooden or cardboard frame. If you want to add more color, paint the acorn tops. Allow it to dry and add your favorite fall picture. If you want to hang it on the fridge, attach a strip of magnet to the back.

Please tell us what you think about this site and share any ideas you might have. We are always looking for new content to add and we'd love to hear what you think. Thank you for visiting.

Reader Feedback

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    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      It certainly doesn't look as if your preschooler will be bored with this list of activities!

    • parentsterling profile image

      parentsterling 6 years ago

      love this lens:) I have a preschooler. So this lens is right what I need. I'm glad I found your lens:)...

    • profile image

      amandahobbs 6 years ago

      Great lens. It is such a cool thing to play and spend time with pre-schoolers.

    • Joy Neasley profile image

      Joy Neasley 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

      great ideas...

    • sheilamarie78 profile image

      sheilamarie78 7 years ago

      You've put together some great ideas! I'm lensrolling you to my playisakidsjob lens.

    • bddots profile image

      bddots 7 years ago

      Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Living in Guam where it rains daily leaves me pulling my hair trying to find fun things for my 3 year old to do. Especially, during the rainy season. You can only play in the rain so many times before it's not even fun to a toddler! Our fallback favorites are anything crafty, reading, and coloring. You've posted some great info. Thank you again!

    • bddots profile image

      bddots 7 years ago

      Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Living in Guam where it rains daily leaves me pulling my hair trying to find fun things for my 3 year old to do. Especially, during the rainy season. You can only play in the rain so many times before it's not even fun to a toddler! Our fallback favorites are anything crafty, reading, and coloring. You've posted some great info. Thank you again!

    • profile image

      credit-expert 7 years ago

      Now that fall is around the corner, I would say that almost every pre-schooler loves a nice afternoon at a pumpkin patch!

    • VSP profile image

      VSP 7 years ago

      Lots of good ideas. I posted it on my

      Homeschool-Preschool-thru-High-School facebook page.

    • DawnMathisenakaC profile image

      DawnMathisenakaC 8 years ago

      Fun lens! Five stars and some great ideas! Have a great rest of your Summer!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I love the outdoor activity section of this lens. So simple yet, I didn't think of "cloud watching" I run a home daycare and I am always researching great games and crafts to do with children. Thank you for sharing. I am going to lensroll this over to my Daycare School Activities lens! 5 stars!

    • profile image

      Lenabelle 8 years ago

      I love this site, it really helps when you are stuck in a rut

    • profile image

      Preeti72 9 years ago

      Lense on the directory of free coloring sheets, alphabet coloring and maths activity.

      http://www.squidoo.com/printableworksheet