University of Illinois Extension

Planning Play Activities

Activities for Preschoolers

Preschool children like to jump, ride tricycles, play ball, use crayons, and do puzzles.

Let children play with sand in buckets. Give them scoops, muffin tins, funnels, rolling pins, and salt shakers to use (check with the parents first). Almost any containers and utensils are fun to play with in the sand.

Make soap bubbles. Add 1/2 cup of liquid dish soap to 2 quarts of water. Have the children blow bubbles with small plastic containers (frozen juice) open at both ends. They can also use straws or green plastic berry baskets. Also let the children wash dishes.

Preschoolers like to make things with blocks and plastic building pieces. Check to make sure wood blocks are smooth and free of splinters.

Poke holes in the bottoms of plastic margarine tubs. Have the children fill them with water and watch it dribble out.

When these children play with water and sand, give them toys like egg beaters, watering cans, and squeeze bottles.

Preschoolers like to pretend. They learn how to share, and it helps their imaginations grow. Set up a corner of a room like an ice cream store. You will need a table, clean ice cream containers, ice cream scoops, and cones made from paper. To make a pretend beach, you will need bathing suits, towels, sunglasses, a radio, and beach toys. To make a supermarket, gather empty food boxes and containers, play money, and toy shopping carts. You can also get ideas from the children for pretend play. Always check with the parents before using objects in their home as play things.

Activities for: Infants | Toddlers | Preschoolers | School Age | All Ages