I am a firm believer in learning through play, and I truly believe toddlers get all the learning they need through simply playing and exploring their surroundings. They are like little sponges that absorb information just by playing, listening, and observing. Now, while I believe children who are pre-school age don’t need any kind of structured schooling or learning, I do think we can aid in their learning by making learning fun and playful. These type of activities are a great way to have fun with your child, keep their little minds stimulated, and provide some learning in the process! All play provides some type of learning for your child. Messy play, imaginary and dramatic play, building and creative play, gross motor play, it doesn’t matter – all play provides learning opportunities. However, in this post today I wanted to provide a few activity ideas for more specific learning such as numbers, colors, shapes, letters, counting, etc.
So today in this post I have compiled some great activities to try with your toddler or pre-school aged kids. This is a great method for teaching things like numbers or letters, shapes, colors, etc.
By making it into a fun game or activity rather than just repeating 1-10 or the ABC’s, your child absorbs the information more effectively and gets a better understanding rather than just memorizing a rhyme or sequence.
So, here are some great activities to get you started:
This easy number matching activity is a great one to get your kiddo moving while they are learning! The best part is – all you need is some paper and a marker (and some tape – but that is optional). I used 10 large white pieces of paper and then cut up a bunch of colored paper into small squares. You could also use post it notes if you have some on hand! I recommend taping the large numbered paper down so it stays in place. Scatter the small numbers around (or add some extra fun and hide them around the house), and have your child match them up with their large corresponding number. You can obviously do this with anything – numbers, letters, shapes, colors, or even basic math equations or words for older kids.
I created this simple counting activity using pom poms and some number tiles that came with another counting toy we have. Most toddlers won’t really get the concept of counting out objects until 3+ and usually will only understand counting out 1-4 objects initially. I did the below activity with my child before she was 3 but it was with lots of help from me. She just turned 3 and we did a similar activity last week and she did much better with it and needed less help from me.
This seek and find number activity is a great way to get started with number recognition. I used a muffin tin and wrote 1-9 on liners, but you could just as easily use a piece of paper instead. These little wooden numbers were a dollar store find but you could use any numbers you had on hand (wooden puzzle numbers, magnets, etc.)
This was an activity we did recently that as inspired by Easter and Spring. We “fed” the bunnies the number of carrots they wanted as indicated by the number underneath them. A great introduction to counting!
This apple tree activity is a so easy to set up and also a great tool for fine motor skills. We used shapes as our matching of choice but you could easily replicate the same activity with numbers, letters, or colors. All you need is some colored paper and some dot stickers.
This DIY Shape matching activity took about 3 minutes to create. All I did was trace some shapes that we had from another toy onto a piece of paper and had my toddler match them up! So easy but a great activity for learning about shapes.
This is another DIY shape activity we did. This was one of the very first shape activities I did with my toddler as an introduction to some basic shapes. I used an old cardboard box and cut large shapes into it, then used the scraps and cut out small shapes. I then color coded them as well to help with the matching.
This is one of my favorite purchases because these nuts and bolts can be used in a variety of ways. They are great for learning about shapes and colors, development of fine motor skills, and I have also used them with play dough, in play trays, etc.
The other great thing about them is that they are a great travel toy! Great for planes, cars, or to bring on vacation. I purchased them on Amazon – you can check them out HERE.
This number and shape seek and find was an easy activity that I threw together when my daughter was just over 2. I used her wooden puzzles and some dry rice because she was past the point of wanting to put everything in her mouth, but if your toddler is not there yet, you could easily use dry cereal or something that if eaten, it is not a big deal. This is a great activity for introducing shapes and numbers.
This super simple shape matching activity is so easy to throw together. All you need is paper, tape, and sticky notes. I drew three large shapes on paper and taped them to the wall. Next I drew 4 of each shape on the sticky notes and stuck them to the wall. I showed my toddler how to match the shapes and then let her try on her own. Every time she picked a sticky note I made sure to say “circle” or whatever shape she chose to help her identify the shapes.
This super easy color activity is not only a great introduction to colors, but also a great activity to get your toddler moving! All you need is some colored paper and some colorful loose parts. We used pom poms, mini blocks, and wooden rings. You could use any colorful items you have around the house for this activity!
Another super simple activity that involves very minimal prep and very minimal supplies.You need a piece of paper, some markers or crayons, and a few different color dot stickers. Draw different colored dots on your paper and have your little peel and stick the dot stickers and match them on the dots drawn on the paper.
Using only colored tape and craft sticks I created this color matching activity. Great for introducing colors as well as developing fine motor skills.
I love when I can use our toys in a variety of different ways. In this case, we used our Mega Blocks (turned upside down) in this color matching activity.I paired the block with some pom poms and some different fine motor tools, and just like that – a quick and easy learning activity!
This is an easy color match activity and you probably already have everything you need create it. I used some bottles, colored paper to wrap the bottles with, and some pom poms. Have your toddler put the pom poms into the matching bottle. You can add some tongs or tweezers for the added challenge as well.
I just started introducing letter activities to my 3 year old and although she knows the alphabet well to recite it, I find for letter recognition and identification, it is easier if we approach 1-4 letters at a time. We have been using the below activity to tackle our letters a few at a time. I used dry erase markers on our Ikea Flisat Table but you could just as easily use paper. I gathered any letters we had around the house (magnets, tiles, puzzle pieces), and had my 3 YO match them within the corresponding letter circle.
Name recognition using Mega blocks and colored tape. I crafted out my daughters name using tape and then has her line her name with the blocks. I was sure to be very vocal about the letters and have her repeat them and say them back to me, etc.
More Mega Block fun with this one. I used a dry erase marker to write letters A-Z on the blocks and then again on matching blocks. I had my toddler match up the blocks. She is 3 and needed some help and prompting to get started, but then she got the hang of it. She did lose interest about half way through, but came back to the activity later to finish it.
MORE GREAT LEARNING TOOLS & RESOURCES:
Outside of the easy learning activities listed above, we also have some great learning resources and tools that we have purchased or have been given as gifts. I have listed some of my favorites below: