Things to do with preschoolers

5 Extremely Easy Ways to Engage a Preschooler

Science tells us a child’s brain development in the first five years of life significantly influences his/her ability to learn over a lifetime.

Brain building happens when children are exposed to enriching environments with positive stimulation and engaged in back-and-forth interactions with adults. So how do you engage your preschooler at home, with limited time and a shoestring budget? By taking advantage of things you already have and tapping into the natural interests of a 2 – 5 year old.

One of these things is not like the other…

preschoolers organizingPreschoolers love organizing things. It’s a great skill that teaches them to recognize patterns and identify similarities and differences. Pair this with your overflowing junk drawer to create a game of grouping items by category, size, color, weight or use (be sure to first remove anything sharp!) Expand the concept to the toy box or any other group of items that needs organizing.


Photo courtesy of Picklebums


Build a city.

A large cardboard box and a handful of plastic animals can provide hours of entertainment in a contained environment. Have them find things around the house to populate their “city” and ask them to tell you a story about the people who live there.


preschooler scavenger huntScavenger Hunt!

Challenge your child to find ten round things around the house, or five things that start with the “T” sound, or 3 things they can wear on their heads (prepare to be open-minded on this one). Go outside and find something in nature for each letter of the alphabet. Take pictures and create a collage, grouping each category together.


Take turns taking photos of yourselves expressing different emotions – happy, sad, excited, surprised… see how many you can think of. Help your preschooler guess the emotion you’re expressing and brainstorm about how to react to a person who might be scared or sad or disappointed.

Name that tune.

Create a station on (free) Pandora radio, and see how quickly your child can name a song based on a few seconds of play. See who can figure the song out first – you might be surprised at your child’s repertoire. For parents who would rather endure a root canal than listen to most children’s music, Pandora has some fantastic playlists that are fun for kids and kind to parents:

  • Lunch Money
  • Radio for Kids Radio
  • Children’s Indie Radio
  • They Might Be Giants – Children’s (Click below to preview the TMBG classic “I am a Paleontologist”)

Find more ideas about engaging with preschool children at Brain Building in Progress, an excellent resource created by United Way of Mass Bay and the Massachusetts Department of Education.