Why read: If you’re in search of interesting and educational things to do with your preschooler, here’s a list of fun activities for preschoolers that are great for independent play as well.
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Now that we’re all stuck at home, you play with your child for what feels like 5 hours and then you look at your watch and see it was only 20 minutes. Ahhhh!
Plus, your husband is having a conference call in the next room so you need to have your kid fully engaged in whatever you’re both doing so that he doesn’t run to bug his father every 5-minutes.
And if you need to work from home too, things get even harder.
This is the reality that American parents (and parents around the globe) are facing now with this unprecedented pandemic.
And if you’re scrambling with finding screen-free activities for your preschooler, here’s a list of easy-to-put and fun things you can do with your child at home and your backyard or patio. Some are great for independent play as well.
I’ll just ask you to approach these activities with an open mind.
Every child is different. Some of these preschool activities might be a real hit with your little one and keep him occupied for hours. While others might last only minutes. Either way, with a huge arsenal of different things to try you’ll be well equipped to have fun together.
Most of the materials you’ll need you probably already have. For those that you don’t, you can look through the entire list, choose the ones you think your child will love and order from Amazon in bulk. When your order arrives you’ll have all the materials ready for some fun activities with your preschooler for days to come.
Sort the Nuts
- A bowl
- Different sorts of nuts (peeled or unpeeled), can work with beans, garbanzo beans, or small toys too
- Cupcake baking pan or any container with sections
- Kitchen tongs
Mix different sorts of nuts in the bowl.
Ask your child to grab one nut at a time with the tongs and sort by sections in the cupcake baking pan.
If your child is interested in numbers and counting, you can make this a challenge of putting 10 (or any other number) nuts of the same kind in one section.
And it’s OK if your little one ends up eating half of the nuts. He’s getting healthy snacking as a bonus 😄
String the Beads
Toss the beads into the bowl.
Have your child string the beads.
Make the challenge more interesting by having him do it by colors, or numbers (for example – 3 green, 5 blue, 8 orange, etc.)
Read Also: Preparing For Great Easter With Your Child
Guess – Sink or Float?
- Some type of large container (storage bin or baby bathtub or large bowl)
- Small items and materials of various weight from around the house and backyard – anything that can get wet
- A piece of paper and a marker
Fill the container with water.
Place all the objects and materials in front of the child.
Divide the paper into 2 parts – sink? or float?
Have your child make a guess whether the object will sink or float and put into the respective graph.
Wash the Toys
- Animal toys, cars, dolls, legos, whatever your kid loves to play with and can be washed.
- Sponges, brushes, washcloths, etc.
Fill the container with water.
Add some bubble bath and food coloring.
Dump your kid’s favorite toys and sponges in there.
Let your child have fun with washing and playing with the toys.
Works well with putting your child into the bathtub. You can add some Epsom salt for a detox bath to boost your child’s immunity.
Make Art from Junk
- Some basic materials and clean recycling stuff from around the house: egg cartons, toilet paper tubes, cardboard, paper plates and cups, ribbons, wood scraps, things you find on a nature walk, etc…
- Kids scissors to cut the junk
Create a play station for your child.
Put all materials out.
Let your child create anything they want by cutting, taping, ripping, gluing, etc.
Talk to your child about what they’re creating. Avoid giving hints, just listen to what they come up with.
Take it further by documenting what your child is explaining by writing it down or creating a video.
Water “paint” the fence or deck
- A clean paint roller or brush, an old toothbrush would work too
- A bucket
Fill the bucket with water.
Give your child the paint roller or brush and have him “paint” the fence, deck, patio floor, etc.
This works great with rocks too. Your child can line the rocks and start “painting”. By the time he gets to the end, the fist ones will dry and he can start over.
You can also “paint” spelling words, numbers or draw on the floor or fence. A fun way to teach your child how to spell his name.
The water will change the color of the wood, stone without the mess and will go back to original when dry.
- Old cardboard of bigger size. A large Amazon box would work great.
- Your child’s favorite toys – Magna tiles, legos, animal toys, cars, blocks, etc.
Divide the cardboard into sections with a marker – a town, a zoo, a garage, etc.
Your child can use his own imagination for what he wants the sections to be.
Bring his favorite toys and have him fill in the sections.
For example, the zoo with animals, garage with cars, the town with houses built of blocks, legos or Magna tiles, etc.
Guess the Taste
- Different types of food cut into small pieces – fruits, veggies, nuts, anything that’s edible.
- A plate
Place the small pieces of food on a plate.
Have your child close his eyes and open the mouth.
Put the food piece by piece into his mouth and have him guess what it is.
You’ll be surprised how much fun you’ll have. Just put a piece of lemon in your kid’s mouth and see his reaction😉
- Painters tape
- Animal toys or cars
Make a long road from painters tape on the floor.
You can use a bridge from a railroad station for more fun.
Bring some animal toys or cars.
And have your child make a long queue.
My son imagined his animals were taking a long road to the water fountain in times of drought. He then used the road to play with his cars.
Rescue the Animal Toy
- A small Ziploc bag
- A small animal toy
- A hammer
Fill the Ziploc bag with water.
Place a couple of small animal toys in the bag.
And freeze overnight.
Next day take the piece of ice with animal toys frozen in it to the backyard or patio and have your child break the ice with a hammer.
Rescuing his animal toys from ice is one of my son’s favorite activities.
Start a Chalk Garden
Start a chalk garden with your child by drawing some trees, flowers, vegetables in the backyard.
You can add some more to your garden every day pretending your garden is expanding.
My son normally isn’t into any kind of drawing but making it a pretend play always works.
- A flat stone
Now that your child and you are into chalk drawing why not go to the basics and play hopscotch?
My son had a great time drawing it too.
You can use this as a fun way to teach your little one numbers or have him write the numbers himself.
Find a flat stone and have fun.
If you don’t remember how to play, read hopscotch instructions here.
Make Nature Soup
- A bucket or any other container
- Pieces of nature from around the backyard
Fill the bucket or other container with water.
And have your child run around the backyard looking for different pieces of nature.
Then have him add the “ingredients” into the water and stir with a stick making a soup.
Take it to another level by doing some pretend play with your little one.
This is one of my son’s favorite activities. He often asks for making some nature soup himself. We then pretend he owns a restaurant where I come to have some dinner. Nature soup is one of the signature dishes of my little chef and l love “tasting” it. 😄
Paint the Ice
- A bowl or other container. I use a plastic container for an easy cleanup
- Small pieces of ice
- Paper plate (optional – for color mixing and easy clean up).
If your child isn’t into painting much, you can spice things up by introducing ice painting.
Pour some ice into the bowl and have your child paint the ice into different colors.
Mix It Up, Learn Colors and Letters
- A paper plate for easy color mixing
As a continuation of the previous activity, mix colors together to see what new color comes up.
Mix It Up is a great book to go along with this fun activity for preschoolers. It’ll give you ideas about which colors to mix. And, later on, you can use it as an interactive way to mix colors with your child without the actual paint and the mess.
Take the activity to another level by painting letters and numbers. Kids learn much better and easier through play.
Kinetic Sand Or Play Dough Fun
- Small sand toys, cookie cutters, anything that can be used to play with sand
- Spaghetti, dry pasta, cheerios
Spice up your child’s regular play with kinetic sand or play-doh by adding cutting tools, spaghetti, pasta, cheerios.
Your child can use pasta to make prints and different patterns in the sand or play-doh. Then cut those with a toy knife.
This activity was a huge hit with my son. He played with the sand for three days in a row on his own. Sometimes for an hour or longer, that’s quite long for my son who normally doesn’t play independently.
Putting cheerios one by one on a spaghetti was especially fun for him.
One Last Thing
There you have it! A list of some fun activities for preschoolers.
While some of these do require your participation, others can be played independently when you need work to do yourself. Just set up a play station, provide instructions and have your little one play on his own.
Please let us know in the comments which activity your child enjoyed the most. And please share if you do any other fun activities with your preschooler for us to try too.