Preschool Learning Games

Preschool children (age 3-5), develop skills that lay the foundation for the rest of their lives. Social, verbal, emotional, and psychological development is accelerated during the preschool years. Preschoolers learn during play; by providing a variety of group games and free play, parents and caregivers equip preschoolers with necessary life skills.

When choosing learning games for preschoolers, assess the child's skill level, choose activities accordingly and respect the strengths and weaknesses of each child. While one child may be ready to play tag, another child may struggle to walk. One child may enjoy group games while another prefers quiet playtime alone.

You can adjust game rules to match a preschooler's short attention span, often one minute per year of age is recommended. Any game can be adapted to different player abilities. Games provide fun learning opportunities but can lead to frustration if the game is too advanced. Wise caregivers recognize differences in each child and introduce appropriate games.

Games that combine large shapes and bright colors make learning easier for preschoolers who have not yet mastered the ability to focus on details. Preschool games usually include large pieces to prevent choking hazards and meet the fine motor skill level of preschoolers.

Musical toys target the child's auditory sensors. Sing-along somgs or made up songs reinforce language lessons and teach everything from the alphabet to hygiene. Preschoolers learn rhythm and experiment with loud and soft sounds when playing with toy instruments or the kitchen pot and a wooden spoon.

Kinetic learners thrive when in motion and require movement to learn. Movement games like Duck-Duck-Goose and Simon Says reinforce verbal instructions for following directions, taking turns, and group play. Use hopscotch to teach numbers and sequence.

Language games increase a preschooler's vocabulary. Rhymes, books and conversations teach preschoolers how to talk while preparing them for school. Turn story time into a game by asking the preschooler to turn the page, search for a picture on the page or point out a specific letter on each page.

A refrigerator box, indeed any box, opens a world of creative play for a preschooler. A box with holes cut in it becomes a tent or a bus. Draw a city scene on the side of the box and use it as a backdrop for imaginary play. Play sorting games or counting games while filling the box.

Imaginary play expands a preschooler's world. He or she can do anything, be anyone and go anywhere. Teach global awareness and world cultures during dress-up games. Allow children to explore different occupations and fairy tale lands.

Preschoolers mimic their caregivers. Toy kitchen tools, construction tools, and baby dolls give children opportunities to participate in adult responsibilities. Turn meal preparation into a game by allowing the preschooler to mix dough or set the table. Give them paper and a crayon to draw pictures of their own grocery list. Let the little builder help fix a broken drawer. Turn adult work into a preschooler game by allowing them to participate when appropriate.

Wooden and plastic blocks teach gross motor skills and the principle of gravity while reinforcing size, shape and color lessons. Building towers or sorting blocks give little hands activity while teaching them patience and perseverance.

Trains and cars fascinate many preschoolers. Encourage imaginary play and problem solving with games incorporating connecting train tracks or a decorated car mat. Count the cars or sort them by patterns. Teach the preschooler science and mechanics during playtime.

Good old-fashioned soil and a cup of water teach preschoolers science. Initiate a race to see who makes the most mud pies, build a construction site in the dirt or dig for earthworms. These free games cost only a bath and laundry detergent after playtime.

T-ball, basketball, soccer, and other ball games teach children to persevere, learn from their mistakes and play as a team. Provide preschoolers with child sized balls and sports equipment for hours of educational fun.

Use magnet games to teach the alphabet, numbers and science. The refrigerator or a cookie sheet becomes a canvas for educational magnets, which provide a preschooler with hours of fun. With alphabet magnets, challenge the child to a race to see who finds the designated letter first. Sort the magnets by color or shape.

Board games teach sharing and taking turns while reinforcing counting. Moving the game pieces refines fine motor skills needed for writing. The classic games Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders remain popular with preschoolers.

Puzzles teach preschoolers how to solve problems and complete a pattern while practicing hand-eye coordination. Ideal puzzle size for a preschooler is eight to 24 pieces, although older preschoolers easily complete puzzles that are more difficult.

Memory games teach preschoolers repetition, attention to detail and taking turns. Go Fish reinforces matching and verbal skills. Homemade card games allow a caregiver to customize the games according to the skills the preschooler is learning that day.

During preschool, children learn to count, often from one to 20 or higher. Simple games like counting cereal pieces at breakfast or counting items of clothing while dressing reinforce counting skills. Make grocery shopping a game by counting the items in the cart. Teach a preschooler to recognize numbers by pointing them out on a menu. The first person to find all the numbers between zero and nine wins.

Computer games geared to preschoolers use colorful animation to teach language skills, colors, letters, and other skills.

Games teach children valuable lessons during the developmentally important preschool years. Age and skill appropriate guidelines ensure success while stretching the preschooler's growth. No matter which game they play, preschoolers learn best while having fun!

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