It may not always seem like it, but preschool is a time of immense learning. It is during these years that children learn important foundational skills that they will carry throughout their school careers. Because of this, it is important for early childhood education teachers to pick the best activities to promote children's cognitive development. The 20 activities on this page are great for developing those important cognitive skills.
Music for Cognitive Development
1. Instrumental New Age Music
Music has been shown to be instrumental (pun intended) to children's cognitive development. Play these songs while children are relaxing or during quiet playtime. Interestingly, even though there are no lyrics, instrumental music has also been shown to improve children's language skills!
Learn more: MeditationRelaxClub - Sleep Music & Mindfulness
2. Children's Music for Cognitive Development
Another great video with calming music to play during quiet playtimes is this video of instrumental music. The great thing about these instrumental songs is that you can play them when children are coloring, eating, or resting to promote cognitive development!
Learn more: Dream Plus
3. Traditional Nursery Rhymes
Nursery rhymes have been proven to develop cognitive skills that help with easy recall and memorization. Play this video and let children dance and sing along to their favorite songs while they develop much-needed skills!
Learn more: Nursery Rhymes TV
4. Spring Sounds
Another type of "music" that has been shown to increase concentration and cognitive function is nature sounds. Playing this in the background will help calm your students while also helping them develop these skills.
Learn more: Soothing Relaxation Nature
5. Video Game Music
It may seem strange, but video game music has been proven to support concentration and cognitive development. After all, the songs were developed for people to be able to solve tricky puzzles and figure out complex levels in video games. These are also great to play with in the background as children are doing other activities.
Learn more: The Protector
Video Games for Cognitive Development
6. Monster Mansion Match
Contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as healthy screen time. It may seem like having preschoolers play video games is not an effective way to build cognitive development skills, but studies have shown that games like Monster Mansion Match actually help develop these critical skills! Play this matching game to develop their visual memory and pattern recognition skills!
Learn more: ABCYa
7. Wild City Search
This fun game has children explore the city and practice both logical thinking and critical thinking as they help different creatures that live in the city solve problems. These skills are especially important as they develop those complex thinking processes they will use as they grow older.
Learn more: Plum Landing
8. Finding Feelings
Another important aspect of cognitive development is emotional growth. During these foundational years, children learn to read and understand the emotions of others. Promote that with this fun, engaging game using some of their favorite characters!
Learn more: Nick Jr.
9. Make Your Own Pattern
If you want to play a memory game, look no further than this game that focuses on remembering patterns. Pattern-building games are great for cognitive development. This fun game will have children engaged as they create their own patterns using animals in train cars!
Learn more: Education
10. Color by Letter
Studies show that colors carry significance in children's cognitive development. Have them play this game to create beautiful, colorful pictures while learning their colors and their alphabet! This simple game is wonderful to add to any toolbox of cognitive development games.
Learn more: Turtle Diary
Cognitive Development Activities
11. Playing with Blocks
Playing with blocks has been proven to be beneficial to cognitive development for many reasons, including divergent thinking and logical reasoning. Kids will think they are just playing a game, but in reality, they will be cementing these critical skills.
Learn more: Gigi Bloks
12. I Spy
I Spy is a great game to play for the development of memory by searching for hidden items. Playing I Spy outside in the physical world also helps with spatial recognition and attention span! It is an easy game to incorporate into your everyday routine by having children look for everyday items around the classroom.
Learn more: Scholastic
13. Morning, Day, and Night
Another cognitive development skill that develops during these critical years is the concept of time. Use this activity that has children match different activities with the time of day in which they do routine activities such as brushing their teeth! Encourage proper development of this skill by regularly mentioning the time throughout the day.
Learn more: Proud to be Primary
Doing age-appropriate puzzles is a great way to promote cognitive growth! Puzzles teach children the valuable skills of choice and strategy as they use their brains to complete each. As children get better, move them onto more complex puzzles to even further work those brain muscles!
Learn more: Momtastic
15. Riddles and Jokes
Another simple activity to develop cognitive skills is telling riddles and jokes. In childhood development, around this age children are developing a sense of humor and will love when you tell them jokes. Doing so encourages cognitive flexibility and executive function, and children won't even realize it, as they will be laughing and having fun!
Learn more: Ducksters
16. Jumping Rope
This simple physical activity is great for boosting memory and teaching awareness of surroundings. The above link provides a number of different physical games to play with jump ropes for both gross motor coordination and brain growth!
Learn more: Very Well Family
17. Card Games
Playing simple card games is beneficial to children for many reasons. Not only do they help with cognitive development, but they are also important for developing social skills as well. Play the games listed and as time goes on, teach them more complex games to even further their learning.
Learn more: Novita
Children have lots of questions, and this is mostly because they have limited experience in the world. Reading helps develop important skills by giving children background information about the world around them, allowing them to make sense of their worlds.
Learn more: All 4 Kids
19. Sand Play
Children learn a variety of skills through playing in the sand that we don't even realize they're learning! From hand-eye coordination to fine motor development, playing in the sand is a great way for children to learn as they play.
Learn more: Empowered Parents
20. Obstacle Courses
Using hula hoops, yardsticks, and anything else you have laying around, create obstacle courses for children to run through. These are great for gross motor development as well as getting out all the wiggles and giggles!
Learn more: Empowered Parents