Make activities fun to ensure kids pay attention.

How to Create Meaningful Activities for Preschoolers

by Tara Shore

Since your little one is learning most things for the first time, or trying to master her basic motor skills, almost any activity is fun. However, that isn't to say that all activities are meaningful to her. If an activity becomes too complicated and your child becomes overwhelmed, she might not learn anything. She might just give up on the task altogether. To prevent that from happening, get creative, have fun, and pay attention to the details in order to ensure your child takes some meaning away from her activities.

Set up life stations for your preschooler in order for her to learn various basic skills that also represent everyday life activities. For example, create a kitchen area with kid-size items such as dishes and pretend foods. Add a pretend grocery store with shopping items, a register. Get creative — add a restaurant! Your preschooler will get some meaningful play time out of interacting in this setting, all while learning the basics of how to shop, play house, work and eat in a restaurant.

Let your preschooler learn to sort during cleanup time of the life station. Ask her to put things away by color or size on the grocery shelves. Say something like, "Today, let's put away items based on their color."

Provide your child with clothing and let her sort the items. Ask her to sort by type, such as pants in one pile and tops in another. You might also have her sort by color or size. Then, have her choose a couple of outfits that she likes. Once she is finished, look at the combinations and make helpful — but, not critical — suggestions, such as, "Well, those colors look really good together, but would you wear shorts with a sweater?"

Keep in mind that these activities can always be tailored to groups of children. For example, you can let children dress in the clothing over their own clothes. By watching each other put on items, the little ones can pick up different techniques of how to, say, put on a pullover shirt or how to button pants. Most kids have already learned how to do these things, but they may learn new techniques by watching their peers.

Add learning items that have multiple uses, such as blocks of different sizes, shapes and colors. This way you can provide several learning activities in one. You can have your child sort by colors, shapes, and sizes, all while building different designs.

Always keep in mind your child's attention span and complexity of the activity. If you feel the tasks are complicated or time consuming, break the activity up into sections. Let your child do one section each day. If there are too many steps at once, she might miss a valuable learning opportunity.

Let your child experiment! Nothing allows a child to learn more than doing it by herself. Your preschooler will retain the knowledge of the activities if she can participate. For example, if you are teaching about solids and liquids, provide your preschooler with a tray that has an ice cube on it. Let her play with it as you talk. Ask things like, "Do you see how water is dripping from the cube? That is the ice melting. The water dripping from it is liquid, while the cube is solid. How would you get the water to be solid again?"

About the Author

Tara Shore holds a Bachelor of Science in business finance and has written for online publications since 2007. She has professional experience in banking, accounting, travel and teaching. Shore is also a master gardener and a travel agent.

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