10 Preschooler Early Learning Activities You Can Plan Into Your Day

My preschooler Possum, has started showing lots of interest in the early steps of numeracy and literacy. That is, she wants to know lots about numbers and is constantly “writing” letters to her friends and family. I like to take the lead from the kids as to when they need additional stimuli in the key developmental areas, so I have given quite a bit of thought lately as to how I can satisfy her needs in this area.

I also like to keep learning at this age informal – it should not feel like a lesson, just something fun to do with mum. Finding the time to fit in learning opportunities can be tricky, so where possible I try and format the activities so that they fit into part of our daily life. Below I have listed 10 activities that Possum and I can do together, which will help stimulate and support her interest in early numeracy and literacy. I am probably doing about two thirds of these activities with her already. The remainder are ones which I did with her brothers at a similar age, so will try them with Possum and see how we go.

(1). The Letter Box Game
As we walk along we take turns in reading aloud the numbers on the letter boxes of the houses we pass.
AIM: Number recognition.

(2). “I went shopping and I bought……..” Game
Modified version of the traditional game that I play with the older children. We play that one of us says “I went shopping and I bought four things……..”. For example I bought an apple, a carrot, juice and bread. The other player has to remember the four items.
AIM: Memory and counting up to four.

As noted in a previous post, we can spend a lot of time hanging out at Possum’s brothers after school activities. This can actually can provide us with opportunities for short session of fun.

(3). I spy
Again this is a modified version of the original game. I will choose three objects to have in front of us, whose names start with a different sound, for example a car, a ball and a snake (obviously all of the toy variety!). I will get Possum to name all the objects. This just clarifies that we have the same name in mind for each object, for example it ball and not football. We then have a short discussion on the starting sound of each object and then we start to play. “I spy with my little eye, something starting with c.” Always using the phonetic sound of the starting letter.
AIM: Start awareness of phonetic sounds of the alphabet.

(4). Rolling Die
My kids love die, so this is always easy to get even the older children to play along (I just add more die for the older children; get them to work on their addition). We take turns in rolling the die and work out what number each has rolled. We then work out who won by having the highest/lowest number.
AIM: Start building one to one matching numeracy and an understanding of the relativity of numbers.

(5). Pencil Control
I pack a clipboard and pencils to take with us to the after school activity. I put together a pack of activities for her to do, all based around gaining adequate control of the pencil. Before a preschooler can write letters, they need to be able to have control of the pencil. I am focusing on two types of sheets at the moment – tracing over patterns and mazes. (Both these links have free printables.)
AIM: Increase pencil control

(6). Cooking
Cooking with a preschooler provides many opportunities for them to learn early numeracy skills. Discussing amounts in numerical terms, time values, number recognition on measuring cups, in the recipe etc. I just need to remember to talk about all these things as we do it!
AIM: General numeracy awareness.

(7). Sorting and Classifying
These are both essential learning paths on the road of maths! There are also many opportunities in the daily activities of home life that I can let Possum practice on like: putting the cutlery (no sharp knives though!) away; sorting out the dirty washing and; putting waste in the right bin – rubbish, compost, recyclables.
AIM: Introduction to mathematical vocabulary and concepts.

(8). Gatherer Game
When we are at the market or the supermarket, Possum is my Gatherer. I tell her how many of each item we need and she gathers the right amount and puts them in the trolley.
AIM: Practice counting, one to one matching

(9). Paying the Bills
Allowing Possum where possible to have a turn at paying for the goods we purchase. We talk about the numbers on the money and how there are dollars and cents. Talk about whether or not we will get change.
AIM: Introduction to currency.

(10). Symbol Spotting
Point out to Possum symbols around the shops and in the car, so she can gain an understanding of what these things mean. For example on exit signs, the icon of the man running – that’s where we can exit the building, the S symbol of non standing signs – mum can’t park there because it is not allowed and she would get a fine.
AIM: Introduction to symbolism.

Planning these early learning activities into part of our everyday life means that:

    – We will actually do them.
    – They are fun and not overly structured.
    – Allows Possum to become more aware of the environment around her and how it is filled with numbers and words.

You may also like Teaching Number Recognition To Preschoolers (So they don’t know you are doing it!), which shows more way to teach kids through play.