toddler learning activities Preschool Theme:
Activities for Toddlers
Early childhood activities especially suitable for teaching toddlers. Seasonal learning ideas that can be included in a wide variety of themes. 

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Preschool Activity Theme For Toddlers

Sensory: Pudding Paint
Michelle T. suggests this texture & taste toddler activity saying, "It was so much fun to watch them painting and eating at the same time. And with very young children you don't have to worry about them eating it or putting it in their mouth."

Materials: Instant pudding, food coloring, small containers for pudding, long  sheet of bulletin board paper or heavy craft paper, soap and water.

Description: Prepare pudding and tape paper to a table. Teachers can pre mix food coloring with the pudding or let the children do it.  Give each child their own container of pudding, then let them use their fingers to do the rest.  Talk about how it feels between their fingers, about the taste, and the smell. 
 

Phone Book Beams
Toddlers use gross motor skills and practice walking and balancing during this inexpensive activity from Gabby.

Materials: Old phone books, large sheets of paper and tape.

Description: Cover old phone books in paper (preferably using only one color).  Make sure that you wrap (or bind) the entire book. Lay them out on the floor for toddlers to use as low balance beams.

For additional activities that use inexpensive items take a look at Home Activities
 

Animals On A Log
Patricia S. helps toddlers learn that some animals live in and on logs with this craft activity.

Materials: Clip art program or pictures of animals, for example; ants, monkeys, turtles and any animal that lives in a tree or that may sit on a log. Foot long tree branches, string to hang your branches up with and tape or glue. I find tape works best.

Description: Just make copies of your pictures  and have children cut out pictures or teachers can pre cut them. Then have children tape the pictures to the stick.
Tie string to both ends of the stick and you have Ants On A Log, or Monkeys In A Tree. Get the idea? My toddlers loved this activity and teachers can make this simple or enhance it for older children.

For additional activities about animals take a look at the Animal Theme.

 

Ideas For Toddlers
Here are 3 ideas for toddler art and craft activities from Tanya N.

Materials: Construction paper, feathers, paint, toilet paper rolls, glitter glue pens, clear contac paper and streamers.

Description:
Furry Bird: Cut out the shape of a bird and let the children glue feathers to the bird.

Firecrackers: Try this for the Fourth of July. Paint toilet paper rolls red, white or blue. Then set aside to dry. Using glitter glue pens, draw on strips of white construction paper. When glitter is dry staple each strip inside the tube. Then glue a construction paper star to the end of the strip.

Sunflowers: Pre-cut yellow triangles and a brown circle. Ask each child to glue the yellow triangles around the brown circle. Then ask them to add a green streamer to the bottom of the flower.


 

Ladybugs for Toddlers
Toddlers use fine motor skills as they create these sticker ladybugs by Sandy B.

Materials: Ovals made of red construction paper, about 8½ x 11.  For black heads,  small ovals of black construction paper attached to the top by the teacher. Black adhesive circles which are available at any office supply store (used for coding files).

Description: Each child is given one red oval ladybug with several strips of  black circular stickers.  The children then peel the stickers off the paper and  attach them to their ladybugs.

Each ladybug is very unique because each child puts the stickers in different places.  I fold the paper that the stickers come on so that the stickers partially pop up for the children who cannot scratch to get them off.

The Creepy Crawlers Theme is in the Rainbow Resource Room.
 

Cooking: Silly Shake
Toddlers experience cooking, pouring and rhythm as they help make these easy silly shakes by Kathleen D. and listen to music.

Ingredients:
½ cup of cold milk
1 tablespoon of any flavor gelatin
   (one 3 oz box for every 6 children)
Fruit such as blueberries, strawberries, 
  grapes or banana slices.

Utensils Needed:
Small bowl
½ cup measuring cup
Shaker or container with airtight lid
Tablespoon
One 8 oz cup per child
1 coffee stirrer or straw per child

Teacher Preparation:
Place all gelatin in the bowl
Wash fruit
Place ingredients & utensils in reach of the children

Children Preparation:
Wash hands
Measure and pour milk and gelatin into shaker
Add fruit
Close lid and shake
Pour into 8 oz cups and let children stir
Now let children drink and enjoy

Comments: While the children are drinking and making shakes listen to Raffi's  tune Shake My Sillies Out.
 

Sensory: Toddler Counting Fun
Lisa A. encourages very young children to explore texture during this sensory counting experience.

Materials: Lunch paper bag and cotton balls.

Description: Place cotton balls in a lunch size bag.  Ask the child to reach into  the bag and grab a handful of cotton balls.  Put the cotton balls on the floor and count them out loud as the child watches, or helps.

More sensory activities are in the award winning 5 Senses Theme


  Literacy: Storytelling Cans
This language and literacy toddler activity by Sandy G. focuses on seriation and recall.

Materials: Three or more tin cans that fit inside each other; edges sanded if  not smooth; contact paper a solid color; pictures from any book or song that you are going to use.

Description: Cover each nesting can with solid colored contact paper. Use  clip art graphics or copies from felt board or storytelling books to create  images to put on the cans.  I used Grandpa's Farm  images of different animals  for toddlers.  You could use the Napping House or Green Grass Grew All Around for older children.  As you sing the song or tell the story, remove the  cans one by one with the correct image on it.  When you are finished, they all  nest back together, and the children enjoy recalling the information themselves. 

Comments: This is an indestructible way for the children to be able to retell  stories and songs on their own.

Lots of story time picture books are listed in Preschool Books Listed by Theme
 

Indoor Pond
Very young children enjoy this sensory activity by Kim L., especially when they can't go outdoor to the sandbox.

Materials: Large sensory bucket, play sand, large plastic tub, small plastic frogs, snakes, insects, etc. 

Description: Place the play sand in a large sensory bucket (the kind you use for water play). In the middle of the bucket, dig a hole large enough for your plastic tub to fit in and fill it with water.  Place the animals around the sand and in the water and let the children explore  your indoor pond!
 

Outdoor Bowling
Toddlers follow directions, use eye hand coordination and gross motor skills when they bowl during outdoor play with this game by Karen M.

Materials: Empty 2 liter soda bottles and balls.

Description: Teachers set up plastic bottles like bowling pins, have toddlers use  a lightweight plastic ball to roll from a short distance to knock the bottles  down.  This will be best accomplished by showing them, the first time, what you  want them to do.  The bottles do not have to be set up in a specific way so try  to get the toddlers to help set up as well as bowl.
 

Feelings and Emotions
This toddler activity by Tammy helps teach toddlers about feelings and emotions.

Materials: Felt circle for face, eyes, nose and different mouths for feelings (mad, happy, sad, etc.), eyebrows for mad = straight lines at angle, sad etc.

Description: Teachers create a face board and use the different faces to show toddlers; happy, sad, mad, scared, etc. Felt works really great because it sticks and is easy to get off and on quickly.

Comments: Kids love making the faces with the face board.

The Feelings and Emotions Theme is in the Rainbow Resource Room

 

toddler color activity and song  Color Glove
Teach toddlers five colors with this song and idea from Tammy.

Materials: White work gloves;  red, yellow, green, blue and orange paint.

Description: Take the white gloves and paint the fingers only of both hands. Paint them red, yellow, blue, green, orange, so that you have two of each color.  Then, sing this song.

Tune: "Are You Sleeping"
Where is red? (bring one hand up with all fingers showing)
Where is red? (repeat with other hand.)
Here I am,  (wave one hand)
Here I am (wave other hand)
Show me if you can, (Hold hands up)
Show me if you can.
Where is red?
Where is red?
Repeat this with all the colors allowing the toddlers to show you the colors.

Comments: This is a great attention getter and I was really amazed at how the kids waited for the teacher to say the next color.

Friends Song 
This is an easy action song from Melissa V.

Friends, friends 1,2,3
All my friends are here with me.
You're my friend, you're my friend, (pointing to each child)
You're my friend, you're my friend.
(Repeat)
Friends, friends 1, 2, 3 
All my friends are here with me.
Comments: Kids love this song my preschoolers sing it all day!

An entire Friendship Theme is in the Rainbow Resource Room.
 

Science: Colored Ice
Toddlers observe changes and discover 'melting' during this early learning activity by Barbara.

Materials: Ice cubes that have been colored with food coloring, re-sealable plastic bags.

Description: Put the ice cubes in re-sealable bags. Let the children watch the ice cubes during the day. Ask them what is happening. Then they can play with the "bags of water" as the ice cubes melt.

 

music and movement    Partners Row Your Boat!
Even very young children can participate in this preschool activity, which promotes cooperative effort, from Barbara.

Description: Partner up the children and have them rock back and forth as if rowing a boat. Sing the song "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" while rowing the boat with their partners.

Comments: The children will initiate this activity on their own once they get to know the song and motion. Prepare to do this several times in a row. I also do this with everybody holding hands in one big circle and rowing the boat together. It is a lot of fun.

Gayle's Note: A teacher from England, Kirklander, adds, "We sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat often but we have  an extra verse:

Rock, rock, rock your boat, Gently down the stream,
If you see a  crocodile, don't forget to scream!

The noise is terrific and it usually wakes all the sleeping babies but they love it!"

 

music and movementRow, Row, Row Your Boat
Toddlers learn a familiar song and experience the concept of sharing and taking turns during this music and movement activity by Melissa P.

Materials: A large or medium sized plastic boat.

Description: While singing the song Row, Row, Row Your Boat one toddler holds the boat, doing whatever he or she wants with it, mine generally rocked it back and forth. At the end of the song, it is someone else's turn and he or she must pass the boat to that person.

Comments: They really did a great job of taking turns. They absolutely loved this activity!

There is a Ocean and Sea Theme in the Rainbow Resource Room.
 

Dinosaur Eggs
Two year old preschoolers discover what is inside of an egg after patiently awaiting it's time to hatch. Earlene B. even includes her secret recipe for  "Sand Goop".

Materials: Plastic eggs, small dinosaurs and teacher made "sand goop" (recipe below).

"Sand Goop" Recipe
1 cup sand
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. alum
1/2 c. water.
Cook on medium heat stirring until thick.  Cook to touch.  Put dino into the plastic egg and cover with "sand goop".  Place in "nest".

On Monday, talk about dinosaurs and how big their eggs were.  Show the children the "eggs" YOU found. Say, "Look how big they are.  What kind could they be?"  The eggs should still be wet.  Tell children that we have to watch them until they turn white and crack. When ready, let children finish cracking them open and find their dinosaur.
Comments: At circle time, the children  can't wait to look at the eggs to see if they are ready.

More dinosaur activities are in Preschool Activities for a Dinosaur Theme

If you have a Toddler Activity or an idea you'd like share... E-mail GayleE-mail Gayle

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