Easy activities to nurture your preschooler’s cognitive development

Preschoolers are full of energy and eager to learn new things. Children develop at different rates and reach milestones at their own pace as they explore and interact with others. Child development can be categorized into four domains: cognitive, physical, emotional and social. According to Raising Children A preschooler’s cognitive development includes their ability to think, understand, communicate, remember, imagine, and figure out what might happen next.

Preschoolers learn best through play. When a child plays with adults or other children, he acquires language and communication skills. Participating in a variety of activities offers a child the chance to develop physical motor skills for gross motor and fine motor tasks. Through play, they experiment, reflect and solve problems.


10 Activities Your Preschooler Should Do Every Day

We have a list of easy activities to support your preschooler’s cognitive development.

12/12 Read books

Father reading a book to his son

Reading offers countless benefits to children, and it is a bonding activity for families. As you read with your child, he builds speech and language skills, thinking skills, and learns new topics. Reading is also an engaging way to work on your preschooler’s attention span. A trip to the local library is a great way to find new stories on topics that might interest your child. They will enjoy listening to and watching fiction and non-fiction picture books.

11/12 Play outside

child playing outside

Children need time to explore and move their bodies. In fact, playing outdoors is good for all four areas of development! You can try these activities with your preschooler the next time you play outside:

  • Hopscotch

  • Nature walk

  • Treasure hunt

  • To play hide and seek

  • Bubbles

  • Create shadows

10/12 Build and stack things

Children stacking blocks

Preschoolers learn by building and stacking with Legos, blocks, boxes, cups or plastic containers. They work on their hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills, and creativity. You can improve the game by commenting or asking questions as your child builds!

9/12 imaginative play

Child playing with dollhouse

Children like to imitate adults and pretend to play. They will do this naturally and can be very creative in their play. Imaginative play can be done with a variety of toys or household items. Here are some toy ideas to entice your preschooler to play:

  • dress up clothes

  • toy phone

  • Doll

  • Basket

  • toy food

  • doctor tools

  • Box

8/12 Sensory game

Child playing with bins of dry pasta

Sensory play gives children the opportunity to explore with their five senses. Sensory bins can be filled with dry pasta, rice, sand, water, beans, hay and many other options. Provide spoons, measuring spoons or small cups and your preschooler will love playing!

7/12 Explore with art

young girl using paint

Art projects give preschoolers a chance to be creative, work their fine motor muscles, learn cause and effect, and practice critical thinking skills. You can vary the art supplies and let your child take the initiative to create their own works of art. The value is in the process, not necessarily the end product.

6/12 Play with Play-Doh

Child making rainbow with playdoh

While Play-Doh can be messy, it stretches kids’ imaginations and works their fine motor muscles. With a few Play-Doh tools, kids can express their creativity while playing with their parents or independently. Play-Doh can also be a fun way to practice basic skills, like building letters, creating shapes, or naming colors.

5/12 bake or cook

Child helping mom to cook

Cooking or baking in the kitchen with mom is a special experience for your preschooler. While working in the kitchen, give your child 1-2 step instructions to follow. Children benefit from hands-on experiences that teach math skills, such as measuring, counting, and sequencing.

4/12 To play games

Woman playing stacking game with child

Playing simple games is a great activity to get the family involved. Preschoolers can practice their emerging turn-taking and listening skills. Games such as Memory Match, Go Fish, Chutes and Ladders, Simon Says and Candy Land will be fun options to nurture your child’s cognitive development.

3/12 Music & Movement

child playing with musical toy

Children this age love to sing and dance! Preschoolers love songs about everything, so don’t be afraid to make up silly songs. You can bring toy musical instruments or make your own (think pots and pans for drums). Finger games, nursery rhymes and songs are filled with educational concepts. You’re probably familiar with songs that work on skills like counting, letters, animals, naming body parts, rhyming, following directions, and more. This list of 25 popular nursery rhyme songs from Little Learning Corner has lyrics to familiar favorites and maybe some new ones to try.

2/12 Counting and sorting at mealtimes

Children eating from a snack box

Snacks and meals provide a natural way to talk and practice early math skills. The next time you sit down to eat, try including one of these ideas:

  • Sort food by color

  • Count the amounts one by one

  • make patterns

  • Notice the shape of the different foods

  • Talk about sizes

1/12 Brain teaser

Child doing a puzzle

Puzzles are a fun learning tool to keep little hands busy. They strengthen a preschooler’s cognitive skills, such as spatial awareness, memory skills, shape recognition and visual perception. Button puzzles, peg puzzles, and puzzles are all great options for preschoolers. Through Fun-A-Day, you can also make a name puzzle by writing the letters of their name on paper and cutting it out.

Sources: Fun-A-Day, Little Learning Corner, Raising Children

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