Ideas to Learn and Play Together!

From bedtime to playtime your child is always learning. Check out these family-time ideas for building their skills -- and your family connections. Want weekly ideas too? Sign up for Bloom Bright and have them sent right to your phone as texts!

  • All Questions All the Time

    Curiosity is the name of the game with this age! Provide space and support for your child as he asks questions, finds answers & plans projects. Try to use your child’s questions as a starting point for shared play and discovery. Is he asking all about how the sun makes things hot? Place ice in a shady and sunny spot outside. Then, see what happens. Is he curious about building? Then, invite creative exploration: “We have some cardboard in the basement. Let’s see if we can make a fort.”

  • Plan to Play

    For preschooler’s, play is a great way to explore making plans. First thing in the morning or as you travel to the park, ask her to make a play plan for the day. Try asking, “What do you want to imagine today?” or “Who will you play with?” or “What will you explore?” as starting points. Then, debrief during your bedtime routine. Get her thinking about the day: “This morning you planned on digging for dinosaur fossils. How did that go? Did you find any?” Even if she played a completely different way, this conversation builds planning and reflecting skills!

  • Friendships

    Help your child build friendships with playmates. When you talk together, invite your child to think about and share what is fun about a friend. You can build the chat into dinnertime. It’s also great as part of a bedtime routine. “Looks like you and Zane had a blast today! Tell me what you did that had you both laughing so much. What do you want to do with him next time?”

  • Let’s Make Faces!

    Get out a mirror and make silly faces together! As you sit side by side, looking in the mirror, make a face. Then, have your child guess your pretend feeling. Be playful with it, and take turns seeing if you can guess the emotion! Talking about feelings during fun times makes it easier to explore them in tough times. If your child loves making faces, consider doing the same with drawings.

  • Who Are You Today?

    Your little one tries out all kinds of roles at this age. “I am superhero and queen!” Play along and enjoy their dive into this imaginary world — even taking them to the store or grandmas in their costume! Use whatever is on hand, an old pillow case works for a cape or a ball gown. Pretending to be a firefighter, police officer or chef can be loads of fun too! Just supply a hat or tools of the trade. A firefighter can use a sweeper hose to put out flames. An officer can have a fancy badge made out of foil. And a chef just needs some bowls and spoons. Playing along as a grown-up is half the fun!

  • Junk Art

    Ever heard of junk art? It’s fun and can keep your little one busy for hours. Gather items such as paper towel tubes, styrofoam pieces, small boxes, ribbons, colored paper and more. Add glue, tape or paint to the mix. Then, invite your child to make a 3-D sculpture. Maybe it’s a boat or a box-asoraus. Perhaps, it’s abstract contemporary art! Encourage independence by letting your child work on their own. Offer to help where needed, but mini-masterpieces can be a mostly solo adventure.

  • It’s All About the Music!

    Exploring music is a great way to build creative skills. Play different types of music: classical, jazz, hip hop and rock and roll. Everyone can dance along! Then, explore the music further with questions. “How did that make you feel? Happy? Sad? Excited?” Or explore music as a movement motivator: “Does it make you want to sway? Run? Jump?”

  • COUNTING THE DAYS

    Your little one is beginning to understand how time is measured. To spark more learning, point out clocks, calendars and watches. Use a calendar when a special event is coming up. Every day, help your child mark off the days until the big day arrives. Use a clock or timer to see how long it takes to finish a task. Compare daily jobs over the course of a week.

  • Your Little Citizen

    Your child builds a sense of self & belonging by participating in community events. Don’t forget to share why you are going to certain places or events. “We celebrate on the 4th of July because it is the birthday of our country, the United States of America.” or “We have a family reunion each summer. It’s a special chance to see all of our family members who have moved far away.” That understanding gives more meaning to events — and it helps your child understand how they fit into the world.

  • What’s the Weather Today?

    Build weather (and science) skills through daily chats. When you leave the house each day, ask your child about what they observe. “The wind is strong today it is blowing the plants around.” or “Did you see the leaves are changing color now that it is colder outside?” Up your child’s weather skills with journal where you draw or write words together about what you see. Who knows? Maybe you’re raising a meteorologist?!

  • WRITE TO ME

    Keep a box or tray around the house full of writing supplies. Include blank paper, pens, pencils and markers for writing and drawing. Occasionally, add new items like stickers, stamps, or envelopes. Your child builds hand strength and control when drawing symbols, letters and pictures.

  • BE THE STAR IN A STORY

    Make up stories with your child as the main character. While creating the story have your child dream up some of the parts. “Then (your little ones name) climbed the tallest mountain in the world! When he looked down he saw… What did he see? You finish it.”

  • RHYME IT

    You likely already know how much preschoolers love to make and play with rhymes! So, be silly & rhyme words anytime you can. Point out rhymes in books and songs. “That was a rhyme! Cat, hat, bat, sat!” Rhymes build phonemic awareness — which means it helps kids understand the sounds that make up words!

  • WHAT’S IN A NAME?

    Ask your child to sign their name to any artwork they do. After all, that is what any great artist would do! If they say they can’t, ask them if it would be okay if you do it, then say each letter as you write it! Remember, writing backwards and upside-down letters are normal. So don’t worry — they will figure it out eventually.

  • How Many Are There?

    Build number skills before family meals. Ask your child to help you set the table for dinner. “I have five forks. But there are only four seats at the table. Can you put a fork at each place? How many forks do you have left?” Count together if a question feels challenging!

  • The Wonderful World of Math

    “The sign says each bag has five avocados. Let’s count them.” Point to numbers in your world. Recognizing numbers from one to ten is part of the normal development for this age. It’s also a skill needed in kindergarten to build toward bigger math skills. At the store, on the road and at home, share how you use numbers to help your child understand why they matter.

  • 1-2-3-4-5!

    Make a game out of counting and comparing numbers! Understanding numbers and amounts can feel magical to your child. Celebrate counting successes: “You can count to 20! NO WAY!” Encourage comparison alongside counting: “How many rocks did you collect? Fifteen rocks! That means you have more rocks than toes.” The more you play with numbers, the stronger math skills become.

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