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zookeeny's avatar

What are the best free & fun activities you and your kids do together?

Asked by zookeeny (875 points ) February 17th, 2010

I am looking for educational and also imaginative activities to play and do at home with preschool children aged 2 – 5 years. Things that prepare them for school eg maths and science and spelling etc. I dont want anything too formal. Im looking for fun ways to explore these subjects just using items around the home, in the garden and community.

Thanks

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21 Answers

phil196662's avatar

If they are into there veggies then you could cut some up and blanch them and play counting games combined with snack time.

If you take them outside in the yard they could find and count worms.

njnyjobs's avatar

Things we did back then:

When on a road trip, the kids are constantly quizzed about things they see. This enforces their ability to read and recognize shapes and colors. Ask them about stop signs, traffic lights, neon signs, billboards and what not.

In a playground setting, counting can be incorporated with games you play and the activities performed on the gym set. i.e. counting the number of swings made or how many times they go down the slide.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

My Dad use to take me out to pick wild apples. :-) He would teach me the names of things and we would spend the time talking about all sorts of things. Good times.
-Dan

Val123's avatar

Just be with them and take advantage of teaching opportunities as they come up.

shego's avatar

I don’t have any kids yet, but my bestfriend and I take her sister to free activities that go on around town. I don’t know where you live but out here in Co., they have a week where most of the museums are free. They also have days where the zoo is free also. We take advantage of these.
Also going on hikes and identifying the flora and funa is also fun to do.

evandad's avatar

When they’re little they love the park, and it’s great fun to watch them. The older they get the less interested they are in free things. In summer you can go to the beach or a lake.

Cruiser's avatar

One of my favorite things to do was to pick up discarded appliances at the curb and take them apart with the kids…A phenomenal activity that my boys loved to do and now they can “see” in their mind how most anything around them works. Even a 2 year old will delight in tearing things apart. Best part is you just toss it out when you are done.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

^Be careful with CRT TV’s and Monitors. The comments on this thread point out the risk quite clearly. If you insist on tearing apart an old tv, submerge it underwater for a few minutes first. That’s the only totally fool-proof way to be absolutely sure any dangerous residual charges in the tv set are safely gone.

MissAusten's avatar

The great thing about preschoolers is that they learn through play. You don’t have to knock yourself out trying to teach them, but talk to them, read to them, and let them be active.

If it’s still cold where you live, go out to play in the snow. Build a snowman, throw snowballs. Mix different food colorings into spray bottles so they can color the snow (you can talk about yellow + red = orange, red + blue + purple, etc). Set up a bird feeder and talk about the birds that come to eat. Better yet, have the kids collect pine cones, smear them with peanut butter, and roll them in bird seed. Hang these up and watch for birds. Go on a “nature walk” and collect rocks, sticks, and leaves. Have the kids sort them into piles (early math skills) and talk about the different textures and colors of the materials.

In the summer, plant a small garden or even just some sunflowers in pots. Grow flowers. Collect bugs, play with water, color with sidewalk chalk. The best thing you can do for the kids is to get right down on their level and play with them. Be open to their ideas, use a lot of imagination and encourage them to pretend. Blow bubbles, take a walk, play in the sand.

Inside, preschoolers can benefit from having a short “circle time” each day. Read a picture book, talk about the date and the weather. Afterward, do a craft that ties into the book or some other theme you’ve been discussing. Try to remember that the process of the craft is far more important than the product. That means give them the art materials and let them use them in whatever way they want without being destructive, of course without focusing on what the end result of the craft will be. Display these crafts in places where the children can see them and talk about them. Sing along and dance to music.

Let the kids use play-doh, blocks, Legos, dolls, musical instruments, a play kitchen, a doctor kit, and dress-up clothes. Make sure the day is balanced between activities planned and guided by you, and “free play” where the children choose what to play with and how to play with it.

Visit your local library and check out some books about games and activities for kids. You will find literally hundreds, if not thousands, of ideas for games and crafts using household items or things found in nature.

Read. Read a lot. Then read some more. Hug them a lot, laugh a lot, and have fun!

StephK's avatar

I’m surprised this hasn’t been mentioned yet, but I definitely feel it’s worth mentioning: Read with them!

Not to them, with them. Ask them about the story: what they think is going to happen, what has happened, how they feel about it, etc. If they’re anything like most of the kids I know, they’ll gobble up both good books and your attention. Don’t make reading a chore, make it an activity.

Ron_C's avatar

We went biking and played poker and gin rummy. My kids were only five and were taking all of my pennies. Biking taught them to preserver and provided exercise. They turned out pretty well and are excellent at math. Maybe that wasn’t the best parenting but it worked. I almost forgot we played a lot of Scrabble too, it definitely helped with their reading and spelling skills.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Get out crayons and paper and just draw.I used to do that with my mother when I was little and we would laugh about the goofy stuff we’d come up with.One of my best memories:))

Adagio's avatar

We read (past tense) together, almost continuously it seems now. My house backs on to the Waitakere Ranges and there are a lot of walkways that we enjoyed almost daily (in a pushchair when she was young and on foot as she grew), baking, listening to audio books, gardening, board games and card games, dress-ups and many more things that I just can’t think of right now….
Although it requires a trip from home, we visited the library every week and came home with a huge pile of books!

EdMayhew's avatar

Have a day making paper planes, test them out, let them come up with their own designs, show them the classics. Teach them about the basic principals, and also get them thinking. At the end of it, have a competition to see whose plane goes the furthest, maybe even have a treat, like candy or something, for the winner.

xx

EdMayhew's avatar

Oh, and cooking! make cakes and stuff. Such great fun for kids, and one of the most important life skills to have in order to grow into an independent adult!

xx

ChocolateReigns's avatar

I remember when I was little…I loved it when my mom actually let me help make the cookies, not just watch. You measure, then they dump it in the bowl. Then they stir until their tiny arms get tired, then mom gets to do the rest. Great fun.

EdMayhew's avatar

@ChocolateReigns Don’t forget scraping the leftover cookie dough from the bowl at the end!!

xx

ChocolateReigns's avatar

@EdMayhew Oh I know…Cookies just wouldn’t be the same without licking the beaters of the really old handheld mixer we have. It just wouldn’t.

YARNLADY's avatar

Provide them with blocks, boxes, plastic bottles, pebbles or beans (supervised only) and let them loose where they won’t hurt anything. They love making their own play.

We half filled the plastic bottles with beans and then used them for bowling pins, rolling balls at them.

EdMayhew's avatar

@ChocolateReigns Mmmmm… that and the icing for fairy cakes…

Val123's avatar

I’m with @MissAusten….. Every single moment of a preschooler’s life is an educational experience. Don’t need to make up anything special in that regard. Just expand on whatever it is that is engaging their attention at the moment.

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