Wondering what you should be doing with your three, four, or five year old all day? It doesn’t have to be complicated! Here are the top 10 daily activities for preschoolers at home, written by a former preschool teacher and mom of two.
Look, every kid has a different hard age. Some may be peak difficult at 18 months. Others may experience the terrible twos, and many kids struggle with the terrible threes. But my kids? Well, the preschool years were actually when we struggled the most.
Ages three and four can be incredibly difficult for little kids (and their parents). They are learning more about their world every day, and are suddenly capable of so much more than they used to be. For some families this is a welcome change, and others struggle with their children’s new needs.
Part of the key to success when creating a daily schedule for preschoolers is finding that tricky balance between structured time and the space to explore, imagine, and create. You don’t want your preschooler’s life to be consumed by academics, but you also want them to be prepared for school once it begins.
As a teacher, I’ve worked with students from age 2 to adults. I’ve seen kids that have had great success, and kids that have struggled. These early years give you the perfect chance to give your kids a rich, balanced day that provides with not only early academic skills, but the space to just be a little kid.
So if you’re hoping to improve upon your preschooler’s daily schedule, here are 10 daily activities for preschoolers at home that will set them up for daily (and lifelong!) success.
This post contains affiliate links. You can read more at our disclosures page. Thanks for supporting The Salty Mamas!
1. Read with Your Preschooler Every Day
There’s a reason teachers, parents, and librarians everywhere stress the importance of reading to your child every day. Not only does reading set the stage for future literacy, but it also teaches your child so much more than that.
Reading books aloud to your child helps provide them with a richer vocabulary, a strong foundation in reading concepts, and key prereading skills. Listening to stories can also help improve a child’s attention span, and can help strengthen relationships between parents and children.
Books can also give your child a ton of background information. Make it a point to choose nonfiction as well as fiction books, as well as books that expose your child to different cultures, experiences, and subjects.
Related Post: How to Teach Your Toddler (or Preschooler!) to Read
2. Color a Picture (And Stay Inside the Lines!)
Coloring allows kids to practice both their fine motor control and their creativity. Practice coloring inside of the lines in a coloring book or workbook, or let them go wild on a piece of blank paper.
Coloring will help your child with their crayon (and pencil) grip, hand eye coordination, and attention span, so it’s great for their development. It can also serve as a calming activity (grab your own coloring book and work alongside them!), or use it as a transition for those times when you need to get dinner started or right before bed.
3. Help Your Preschooler Build Something
Building is one of those fundamental childhood activities, and for good reason. They are crazy good for kids’ development, and so open ended and simple.
By playing with blocks, your preschooler will practice problem solving, use their imagination, and use their gross and fine motor skills. They’ll learn about balance, spatial awareness, and even math and science. It’s even an exercise in developing grit and tenacity (I mean, you’re going to experience a lot of little failures when you’re trying to make a tall tower), so it’s a low-risk way for kids to experience (and overcome!) failure.
You can’t go wrong with some good old fashioned blocks, but you can also change up your child’s build by using Magnatiles, Lego bricks, or even stacking solo cups. The point is to get your kids to interact with simple, low tech materials and explore what their mind and body can accomplish together.
Related Post: Solo Cup Stacking Engineering Challenge for Preschoolers
4. Preschoolers Need to PLAY
Modern moms have been sort of tricked into thinking that if they don’t schedule lots of activities for their kids, they’ll just sit around at home watching TV all day. But while that structure may work for some, it doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for play.
It actually takes about 45 minutes for kids to fall into what’s known as “deep play.” You might have seen it in your kids before, those moments where they’re convinced they actually ARE lost in the woods like they’re pretending to be, or when they’re on the second hour of an ever evolving game of “family.”
Play is a non-negotiable daily activities for preschoolers, at home or out in the world. Kids need lots and lots of unstructured playtime to practice using their imaginations, interact socially, and even learn new skills.
Bonus points if they’re playing without you, so you can actually get something done for a change!
5. Preschoolers Need to Explore Their World
Preschoolers have an inherent need to discover things. It’s why we love our process based art activities and STEM challenges. They love to figure things out on their own, and feel like they’re independently exploring new ideas.
In addition to exploring topics, kids love to physically get outside. If you’re in a more rural environment, kids can play by the creek or in the woods like I did as a kid. If you’re more urban, like I am now, you can let your kids explore in the tree line of your local park, or head to a larger greenspace for them to explore on their own.
6. Activities to Help Your Preschooler Be Creative
Creativity is such a crucial part of childhood. It allows kids to practice their imagination, experiment with making their mark on the world, and even practice adapting to small failures (which will help give your kids some grit).
And besides all that? It’s just plain fun.
Kids can sculpt with clay, paint, build a bird’s nest in the front yard or make a fort. They can build with Lego or Magnatiles, draw a picture, or make a mud pie.
It doesn’t matter so much WHAT they’re creating, as long as they’re making something that’s all their own.
Related Post: Kids Get Creative with Process Art for Preschoolers
7. Schedule Time for Your Child to Move Their Body
Preschoolers loooove to move- in fact, I would go so far as to say that they HAVE to move. They are learning to move their bodies in all new ways, both big and small, and they need the opportunity to use their new skills.
Kids make huge leaps in their gross motor skills during the preschool years. Of all of the daily activities for preschoolers at home, this one might be the most important, both for their growth and for their overall health.
So whether they’re riding on bikes or scooters, running, or even tumbling, your kids absolutely need to move their body in big, beautiful ways every.single.day.
Related Post: 10 Gross Motor Skills Your Preschooler Needs to Master
8. Work in Sensory Activities
Look, you know it as well as I do- your kids are going to be all up in everything all.day.long. They have an innate need to explore things with their fingers and senses. If we don’t give them an opportunity to do this in appropriate ways, they are sure to find inappropriate ways to do it on their own.
Integrating sensory play into your preschool daily schedule doesn’t have to be over the top. It can be playing with playdough, or making slime. It can be helping in the kitchen, or scooping beans in a sensory bin. It can be stacking, making music, or going down a slide.
Feel free to go off the beaten path with this one, but the important thing is making sure your child gets the chance to use all of their senses every day in one way or another.
9. Learning Activities for Preschoolers
Preschoolers’ brains are primed to learn all kinds of things, which makes it a great time to teach them something new. Sure, you can teach them some academics, like learning their colors and letters or writing their name. You can also use our Explore to Learn activity packs to help them practice coloring, cutting, pasting, and early academics.
But beyond that, there is so much more that kids can learn. How to clean up a mess, for example, or get dressed on their own. They can learn their mom’s phone number, or learn that you can make a bigger tower if they make a bigger foundation.
So don’t stress about the academic part. Your kids are probably learning a lot more everyday than you think.
10. Let Your Preschooler Grow
Let’s face it, these little babies of ours are growing up every day. They’re learning, changing, and communicating better. And beyond that, they’re physically growing, sprouting like weeds before our very eyes.
Do your best to encourage this growth in all the ways. As much as we hate to see them outgrow those baby stages, it sure is nice to meet these smarter, stronger versions of our kids.
It can be incredibly simple, but incorporating these daily activities for preschoolers at home will help them grow, learn, and thrive. Yes, teach them a thing or two- but also let your preschooler explore the world around them in creative ways that are exciting to THEM.
You’ll keep them busy, while still letting them be little while they still can.
What would you add to the list of preschool activities?
Looking for more ways to engage your kids? Head here next-
- 10 Gross Motor Skills Your Preschooler Needs to Master
- Quiet Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers at Home
- (Even More) Easy Preschool Busy Bags
Recommended for You:
Printable activities with everything you need to help your preschooler develop fine motor skills, enrich their language, and teach them the early academic skills they need to succeed. Includes printable cut-and-paste activities and a full page of easy, no-nonsense extension activities.