With the short attention spans of most preschoolers, you need an activity ready at any time. The good news? You can have a bevy of lively activities to engage them and build sensory, motor, literacy and math skills. Luckily, educational activity does not have to by synonymous with boring activity. Whether you are a new pre-K teacher or a parent looking for busy activities for your littles, the following fun preschool learning activities will have your minis moving and learning.
1. Finger Painting
Classic go-to preschoolers, finger painting is a win-win. Students get to work on color identification and engage in a sensory activity at the same time. You can incorporate finger painting into number and letter learning also, not to mention the number of crafts you can do with a finger, hand or footprint.
Learn more: Empowered Parents
2. Sensory Bins
The only limit to your sensory bin materials is safety. You can use beads, sequins, different size dried beans, rice, fabric scraps and more. Students engage in play while learning about textures, shapes, and differences.
Learn more: Kids Activities Blog
Beading is a great sensory experience for preschoolers. In addition, it assists in the development of fine motor skills. You don't have to spend a lot of money on expensive beads. You can create some DIY beads by cutting plastic drinking straws into tubes or using dried pasta.
Learn more: No Time for Flashcards
4. Homemade Shakers
No sensory experience would be complete without some noise. Create homemade shakers with plastic bottles and jars of various sizes. Students can fill them with all types of noise makers ping pong balls, marbles, rice, sand, dried beans and so forth.
Learn more: Tierra Encantada
5. Sensory Path
Looking for an awesome idea to get your preschoolers moving and exploring? Create a sensory path. Include all types of surfaces and textures from soft to scratchy and plump to flat. As they move along the path, ask questions about what they feel, if they like it or not, and why they like it.
Learn more: The Empowered Educator Online
Motor Skill Activities
6. Golf Pin Pushing
Building fine motor skills is important to your preschooler's growth. You can do amazing preschool activities with golf tees and floral foam. This inexpensive activity allows your little ones to manipulate the small tees and build those muscles pushing the tees. Another version of this uses toothpicks into large shakers.
Learn more: Mess for Less
7. Playdough Activities
From rolling multi-color snakes to pressing beads into flattened dough, toddlers and preschoolers get lots of motor practice. To extend this activity for more advanced motor skill work, roll the dough into flat sheets and have students cut into strips with scissors or shapes and animals with cookie cutters.
Learn more: The OT Toolbox
8. Color Sort Box
Create your own color sort activity by repurposing an old shoe box or plastic food container. Punch holes in the lid and outline with colored markers. Students use pipe cleaners to work on color recognition and build fine motor skills by pushing the correct matching pipe cleaner through the hole.
Learn more: Still Playing School
9. Water Dropper Activities
Looking for indoor water activities to do with your preschoolers that are low mess? Try this water dropper activity that uses bathroom suction shapes. Turn the bathroom shapes upside down so the suction cups are on top. Have students fill an eye dropper from a small dish and transfer it to each suction cup.
Learn more: Pre Kinders
10. Walk, Jump, Hop
Create a paths activity to work on gross motor skills. Use different colored plates or paper to build your path. Have a physical activity associated with each color. Extend this activity by hanging some of the colored plates to designate a throwing area on the path. Your preschoolers toss bean bags to try to hit the plates.
Learn more: Hands On As We Grow
11. Class Breakfast Book
Have your preschoolers share their favorite breakfast food. Then, have them create their own book about their choice. To support your early learners, have the books pre-printed with sentence frames. Allow space for them to illustrate their books.
Learn more: Fun-A-Day
12. Alphabet Ping-Pong Game
This fantastic letter recognition game will have your preschooler spouting their ABCs in no time. Label cardboard paper rolls, buckets, or containers and ping-pong balls with letters. Line up the containers and have students toss the correct ping-pong balls into their spot.
Learn more: The Imagination Tree
13. Chicka Boom Boom Activities
Use a printable game board or create your own to go with the book, Chica Boom Boom. Students roll the dice and move the appropriate number of spaces. In order to stay in the space, they must say the letter in that space. The play continues until the first player arrives at the coconut tree.
Learn more: Growing Book by Book
14. Letter Recognition Cup Game
On a large sheet of paper, trace around paper cups so that you have several circles. Write a letter in each circle as well as a matching letter on cups. This is a busy activity for a literacy center as pre-kindergarteners match the cup to its circle.
Learn more: Planning Playtime
15. Popcorn Math Activities
Print and laminate these printable popcorn boxes onto note cards to use for multiple math activities. Start with number recognition. Once they know the number itself, you can do hands-on activities. Students pick a card and count the number of popcorn kernels into a small cup.
Learn more: Fun-A-Day
16. Lego Counting Activities
Draw lines on blank paper. Make sure the rows are tall enough to accommodate the legs with which your students will be working. Put a number at the beginning of each row. Students line up the correct number of Legos on the line.
Learn more: Do. Play. Learn
17. Bottle Drop Counting Activity
Label cleaned plastic bottles with numbers. Students then count out the correct number of items to drop into each bin. You can use any of the sensory items in the classroom that will fit into the bottle: pom poms, popcorn kernels, beads, etc.
Learn more: The Imagination Tree
19. Playdough Numbers
Have your preschoolers create playdough numbers for a sensory, hands-on math experience. Students also get to work on their fine motor skills by rolling and shaping the playdough into the number shapes. Extend this activity by having them create small playdough balls and place the correct amount under their number creation.
Learn more: A Little Pinch of Perfect
A classic children's game that you can use inside or outside to get your kids moving. This one covers multiple learning objectives for pre-K, including gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination and counting practice. For inside play, you can create the hopscotch template with colored tape.
Learn more: Empowered Parents
21. Walk the Line
Use this as a stand-alone activity or part of a larger group of indoor activities to include in an obstacle course. Use colorful tape to create the lines. This activity promotes balance and movement. You can add difficulty to this by incorporating a freeze move where students have to hold their pose for a few seconds.
Learn more: Reach for Montessori
22. Jump Boxes
Create boxes with tape on the floor. You can have them line up or create different sizes to encourage different movements. This is a good activity to scaffold the movement of hopscotch prior to adding in the number component.
Learn more: Mama, Papa, Bubba
23. Beach Ball Letter Recognition
Add together a literacy and a movement activity for a win-win pre-K educational game. Write letters onto a beach ball. Have students create a circle, either toss or hand the ball to each other. Each child has to say the letter that is closest to their hand
24. Bean Bag Activities
Work on gross motor skills with a variety of bean bag activities. From bean bag tosses into buckets to pass the bean bag, your preschoolers will love these games. You can increase difficulty for passing games by lining students up and having them pass over and under to each other.
Learn more: Discovey Building Sets
25. Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Combine singing with movement for a pre-K fan favorite, Row, Row, Row Your Boat. Teach the students the song or play a recorded version. Students can pair up or line up in groups of three and forth. Add movements to do as they sing or listen to the song.
Learn more: Let's Play Kids Music
26. Shake out Your Sillies
Need to help your preschoolers release some of their energy. Turn up the music and have them free dance to shake out their sillies or have them follow the directions in the song lyrics.
27. Animal Freeze Dance
Preschoolers learn the animals, get to move and follow the directions in the song. This is an engaging activity to use for circle time or when your littles need a brain break. The kids get to stomp and swing, waddle and hop, then freeze!
Learn more: The Kiboomers - Kids Music Channel
28. Transition Songs
Help kids move from activity to activity with transition songs. A fan favorite is the clean up song which gets the littles moving to the beat and cleaning up the classroom at the same time. This one sticks with them as even middle schoolers can be caught singing the clean up song at the end of class.
Learn more: Atlas Mission