10 Preschool Activities that Build Foundational Learning Skills

Preschool activities are (kind of) a big deal!

They are the beginning of academic skills and set the foundation for your child’s academic future!

Don’t go printing out college applications right now or anything but do consider that your child’s first experiences with school are super important and shape their view of them-self as a learner.

In the beginning school is less about actual academics like numbers and letters (although those are important too, when it’s time) and more about providing meaningful experience and practice being independent thinkers and learners.

Things like exploring natural curiosities, interests, making an effort to build, learn or grow helps kids gain self confidence and independence.  This is the work of childhood, well the beginning of it.

Preschool Activities to build foundational skills:

  1. Honor growth and learning over being right or correct. Praise effort as opposed to outcome.
  2. Read, read, read! Even if you can just read a bedtime story almost every night it makes a HUGE impact later on!
  3. Sing Singing songs helps kids learn a number of skills. It primes the musical part of the brain for later band or choir, it helps with memory & it’s packed with a bunch of pre-reading skills like cadence, rhyme, sequence, storytelling, etc.
  4. Make a snack together One thing my son and I do regularly is cook. I do my best to make sure we cook together at least once a week. Our favorites are treats like chocolate chip zuchinni bread & plum upside down cake but when there just isn’t enough time we make a snack together I have him help me with simple dinner prep.
  5. Draw & color- I several new boxes of crayons (markers & colored pencils) & rotate out as needed and replace as needed throughout the year.  I stock up during back to school sales and keep them on hand. I also replenish coloring books and drawing paper. 
  6. Maker Box–  This is one of my sons FAVORITE activities. I take household items (craft sticks, playdough, paper, pencils or crayons, scotch tape, etc.) and put them in a shoe box size storage bin. I change out the materials but almost always use painters tape (just because it sticks so well without damaging surfaces or leaving marks).
  7.  Scavenger Hunt This never get’s old! We have done a dinosaur themed scavenger hunt, a pirate treasure hunt, a fall nature hunt & so much more. Its’s always a blast!
  8.  Sensory Bins This is another favorite of ours. Rice and beans are an easy and inexpensive way to fill the bins and kids love digging through them to get to the toys.
  9. Process Art– This is another simple idea. Set out a dish or tray with materials to be used with the art piece (sequins, pom poms, beads, cut up strips of paper, etc.), glue and construction paper or card stock. Let the kids put glue on the paper and mix and match the art pieces to add to the paper.
  10. Game Time/ Game Night- Kids don’t learn valuable life skills like taking turns, patience, following directions, etc. because and adult tells them to. They learn best when it is reinforced naturally in their environment. Playing board games and childhood games like hide and seek are great ways to engage your child in important foundational work for learning and being cooperative later in life.  For recommendations on games to play with preschoolers see my post on the best games for kids!
  11. Build InvitationThis can be totally open ended or you could have a specific theme. Use whatever materials you have like scrap wood, Picasso Tiles and cars.
  12. Make Playdough Our favorite playdough recipe includes lavender which I make in large batches when we’re stuck indoors for longer periods of time.  Sometimes I buy playdough but he appreciates it so much more when we make it.
  13. DIY Gratitude Jar– This is a super simple activity to help teach gratitude to children.
  14. Start a Garden– We have had some of our best bonding moments in the garden ( & kitchen).

Here are some simple ideas to build preschool skills for foundational learning (learning that needs to take place before kids are school age).

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10 Preschool Activities that Build Foundational Learning Skills

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