Easy, brain-boosting activities to do with your preschooler at home
Stuck at home with a bored preschooler? We share your pain! Which is why we've pulled together a huge variety of activities to keep you child happy and stimulated
Keeping your child stimulated and open to learning new things is tough when nursery or preschool is closed and you're playing Chief Entertainer and Teacher at home. What you need is a range of brain-boosting activities to do with your child – some short, some longer, some pencil-and-paper-based, some craft or reading or games-based – that will keep them entertained and educated. Which is lucky, because we have loads for you right here...
Here are some great ideas for home-based learning activities, games, books, toys and crafts for 3 and 4 year olds...
Downloadable activity sheets
Activity sheets are a godsend because they give your child fun, well-targeted, structured tasks to complete.
We have all sorts of engaging, learning-focused activity sheets for you to download and print – and share with your child. They cover all the key thinking, counting, letter-forming and pencil-manipulation skills your child is developing and perfecting. And we've divided our resources up into Maths, Literacy and Fine-Motor Skills...
Maths: numbers, counting and shapes
- Mister Maker spotting shapes activity sheets
- Counting and creativity activity sheets
- Tree Fu Tom maths activity sheets for children who love to move
- Octonauts, Bob the Builder and Mike the Knight maths games for preschool children
- Numbers and counting for toddlers and pre-schoolers
Literacy: first writing and pre-reading
- Early writing activity sheets
- Early reading activities and games
- Farmyard animal pre-writing activity sheet
- Phonics-based early reading games
- Creativity and imagination activity sheet
Fine motor skills: colouring and mazes
- Singing Mermaid colouring and spot the difference activity sheets
- Pirate-themed colouring sheets
- Alphabet colouring in sheets
- Peter Rabbit colouring and maze puzzle sheets
- Colouring and maze puzzle from Blossom magazine
- 5 free Spot The Difference games to download and print
And something a bit different...
Games to play
As well as pencil and paper activities, you'll want to get your child involved in things that get them up and moving – and learning as they play. We've pulled together some ideas for indoor games and activities – some of them based on boosting numeracy skills, and a whole host of others that include everything from rocket-making and treasure hunts to memory games and fish racing (yes, really)...
- 6 counting games for toddlers and preschoolers
- 26 indoor games to play with your preschooler
- 5 games to teach your child phonics
- 5 amazing things to make with cardboard
And when all else fails – or you just need a break...
Lovely, low-key and literacy-nurturing, reading books with your child – at any time of day – is something simple and stimulating – and cuddly – that'll change the pace from activity sheets or unstructured play but keep the brain cells buzzing. Here are a few of our most-loved book recommendations...
More like this
- 10 best books for 3 year olds
- 10 best books for 4 year olds
- 10 of the best books for preschoolers
- A to Z of the 100 best children's books
Toys are for fun, that's for sure, but the best toys are both fun and brain-stimulating – whether that's in a more obvious learning-toy kind of way or in a looser, imagination-expanding, pretend-play kind of way. We've tested and reviewed hundreds of toys in the past few years, picking out the very best to recommend in the dozens of toy articles we publish and regularly update. Take a look at the toys we really rate for 3 to 4 year olds...
Toys to keep them thinking and working things out
- Best educational and learning toys
- Best construction and building toys
- Best science toys
- Best coding toys
- Best puzzles
- Best interactive toys
- Best robots
Toys to stimulate the imagination (and lots of dressing up)
Toys to get them creatively lost in their own little world
- Best train sets
- Best toy kitchens
- Best toy garages
- Best toy castles
- Best toy farms
- Best dolls
- Best space toys
Toys to get them moving, even indoors
And the pick of the toys our child testers loved the best
Get your child's creative juices flowing with these sweet crafty projects. You'll need to help out (and probably take over some of the more fiddly bits) but there's a lot of joy in a good old, messy parent-child craft session. Just be prepared to spend way more time clearing up afterwards than you'd probably bargained for...
- Queen and king paper crowns to print and make
- Make a sparkly ice cream painting
- Make an owl kite
- Make a papier mache piggy bank
Helen is author of the classic advice book Parenting for Dummies. Before joining MadeForMums over 7 years ago, she was Head of Community at Mumsnet and also the Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby.
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