Preschool Learning: Active, Social, Hands-on


Unlike older children who are able to sit and listen in order to learn, young children learn best when they are doing and engaging their senses. When children can move and fully participate in an experience, they learn concepts in a deeper and more meaningful way. They learn best when they can interact with others and are able to listen and share ideas about the learning. By actively manipulating materials, children are better able to make connections. And when they are able to touch and explore while learning, they are more likely to remember new concepts and ideas. When learning is active, social, and hands-on, preschoolers can learn new concepts and make new connections. 

As you work to help your children learn their letters, numbers, shapes, colors, and other foundational skills, use the activities below to make the learning active, social, and hands-on: 



  • Numbers: Say a number between 1 and 10 to your child. Have them clap or jump while counting to that number.

  • Shapes: Go on a shape scavenger hunt. Name a common shape and help your child find examples of that shape outside or throughout their home. 

  • Letters: Choose a letter of the day and, throughout your day, look for things that begin with that letter. Start with common letters such as s, p, n, or t.



  • Letters and Numbers: Create a pretend restaurant, bank, or post office using items you have in your home. Encourage your child to create a menu, write numbers, or make letters as they play.

  • Colors: Play I Spy to help your child learn and practice their colors. Choose an item within sight and then give your child a color clue. See if your child can guess the item you chose. Then, invite them to choose an item. 

  • Shapes: Play a shape guessing game. Draw two or three simple shapes. Describe one of the shapes with clues and have your child point to the shape they think you are describing. Learning and talking about shapes in this way encourages your child to understand the differences between shapes rather than only memorizing the image and name.  



  • Numbers: Use a handful of small snacks like cereal, crackers, or fruit snacks to practice counting, adding, or even subtracting. Invite your child to touch and move the snacks as you talk about counting or adding. You might even encourage them to eat the snacks you are subtracting.  

  • Shapes, Colors, and Letter Sounds: Use items in your house to set up a sorting activity. Your child might sort by shape, color, or even beginning sound. 

  • Letters, Numbers, and Shapes: Spread foam shaving cream in a large container or on a washable surface and practice making letters, numbers, and shapes.