Preschool Learning Activities
Preschoolers learn more quickly and thoroughly than any other age group. Their little minds are sponges!
How do we take advantage of their curiosity and their thirst for learning?
Colors and shapes are the best place to start.
Colors and shapes should be learned prior to letters and numbers. When your child learns to discern the similarities and differences between colors and shapes, he is building the skills he’ll needs to recognize the differences between letters and numbers later.
Color and shape are two of the most noticeable attributes of the world around us. Every time you look out the window or take a walk, you’re bombarded by colors and shapes.
That’s exactly the reason they’re so easy to teach. Colors and shapes are all around us all the time. All you have to do is notice and point out the red apples, green grass and blue sky as you go about your day.
Preschool Learning Activities to Teach Colors
Around 18-months-old is a good time to start pointing out and naming colors. When your child is interested, start simple sorting and grouping activities with her. During bath time, sort similarly-colored objects, like the rubber ducky, the yellow shampoo, and the plastic banana into one corner and another color into a different corner.
During snack time, sort similarly-colored fruit loops, goldfish or gummy bears to different quadrants of the plate. During play time, sort the blocks by color. It doesn’t take much effort, time, or money — just keep color forefront in your mind and weave it into your day.
One of our favorite color activities is to make colorful ‘salads’. I save all the seed catalogs every spring because they have such pretty, colorful photos. I let my children go through them with me and help me snip out all of our favorite vegetables. Then we make a huge pretend salad together.
I spread the colorful veggies out on the table around a salad bowl. “Let’s both add something green” is how we start, so my child can follow my example. After enough practice, we progress to taking turns and telling each other what color to add.
Fun picture books about colors
- Red Car Green Car by Roger Priddy
- Colors by John J. Reiss
- Edible Colors: See, Learn, Eat by Jennifer Bass
- Cat’s Colors by Jane Cabrera
- Mix it Up by Herve Tullet
Preschool Learning Activities to Teach Shapes
Naming shapes is a skill that takes a little longer to develop. Most three-year-old’s will be able to recognize basic shapes and point to them when asked, but like with any developmental skill that age will vary widely.
Start by teaching your child the most common shapes: squares, circles, and triangles. Look for them and point them out at the grocery store, while driving, and especially in picture books. Once mastered, you can move on to more difficult shapes like stars and diamonds.
Fun picture books about shapes
- Mouse Shapes by Ellen Stoll Walsh
- Round is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Thong
- My Very First Book of Shapes by Eric Carle
- Shape by Shape by Suse MacDonald
- Walter’s Wonderful Web: A First Book About Shapes by Tim Hopgood
- Shapes by John J. Reiss
- Which One Doesn’t Belong? A Shape Book by Christopher Danielson
- Circle, Triangle, Elephant: A Book of Shapes and Surprises by Kenji Oikawa
- Brown Rabbit’s Shapes by Alan Baker
- Triangle by Mac Barnett
Fun Preschool Learning Activities for learning Shapes & Colors
Teaching new skills through playful and engaging activities is crucial for preschoolers. Hands-on learning experiences and joyful discoveries will set your child up for a lifelong love of learning.
Sorting Shapes and Colors
Sorting is a fun preschool learning activity. Use things you already have around the house, like egg cartons, plastic cups, ice cube trays or storage containers, to sort small objects by color or shape. You probably already have most of the items listed below, or they can be found at the dollar store super cheap.
- Craft supplies
- Pom Poms
- Paint chips
- small toys
- small candies like m&m’s or jelly beans
- photos cut from garden catalogs or magazines
Creating Patterns with Shapes and Colors
Use chenille stems or yarn to thread pony beads or fruit loops (or whatever you can think of) in a pattern. Start with simple patterns, alternating two or three colors, and get more complex. Take turns thinking up a pattern and letting the other person continue it. Legos are fun ways to build pattern towers.
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Build Your Own Shape Sorter
Commercial shape sorters are lots of fun, of course. But you can have fun making your own out of a cardboard box, and sorting items from your playroom or pantry by shape.
What Comes After Shapes And Colors?
Shapes and colors (and sorting in general) are foundational math skills, as well as providing a background for letters and reading. They provide the foundation for more advanced learning down the road.
It can take as few as a couple of weeks to fully understand the concepts, or it could take several months. For this reason it is important to provide your child with plenty of practice. Keep reinforcing these basics through loving play until your child starts exhibiting signs of reading readiness, at which point he’ll be ready to move on to letters and numbers.
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What are your favorite preschool learning activities? Please share in the comments below!