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 career!

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

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

Things like; effort, independence, sharing, working together & treating yourself and others with respect, drawing, coloring and using play dough help to build fine motor strength and skills that will later be used for writing.

Other activities like providing materials to build with (maker box or builder invite) help kids develop problem solving among other skills.

10 things you can do with your preschooler to build foundational skills:

  1. Honor growth and learning over being right or correct. Praise effort as opposed to outcome.
  2. 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. When there just isn’t enough time we make a snack together. Since he started preschool one of his new favorites is Banana Man.
  3. Draw & color- I buy a new box of crayons (or markers). I rotate crayons out as needed and replace with a new box ( I stock up during back to school sales and keep them on hand). I also replenish coloring books and drawing paper. 
  4. Maker Box–  This is one of my sons FAVORITE activities. I take household items 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).
  5.  Scavenger Hunt- We did a dinosaur themed scavenger hunt over & it was a blast! We have a ton of dinosaur toys that I hid all over the yard.
  6.  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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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!
  9. Build Invitation– This can be totally open ended or you could have a specific theme. Use whatever materials you have like scrap wood, Picasso Tiles and cars.
  10. Make Playdough– This is my son (and I) trying out a new playdough recipe. Strawberry (jello) scented playdough. It was super messy but well worth it.  Sometimes I buy playdough but he appreciates it so much more when we make it.


“Regardless of the combination of effective approaches used, it is essential to devote adequate time to nurturing PreK–3 children’s early STEM learning.”  from Nurturing STEM.

I shared 10 simple ideas to build preschool skills for foundational learning if you like these ideas but need more specifics click the link below for step-by-step

Preschool Activity Calendar 2

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