Children’s Work: Play That is Really Learning (Part 2)

You’ll remember that about a month ago I shared Part 1 of the wonderful Learning Activities and Teaching Ideas for Preschoolers (click on the link to read the first part of this series)–ideas which my friend, Bonnie Anderson, shared with the young moms who are part of my group called “A Mom Thing.”

Bonnie is a dear friend of mine who is extremely qualified to talk about creative learning activities for small children!  When I invited her to be our guest at “A Mom Thing” last month, I asked her to share activities and teaching ideas for little children, especially activities they could do independently while Mom is spending one-on-one teaching or other time, with an older child.  She shared with us so many wonderful ideas! (I want to do these! I need to find some small children fast!)

Part 2 from my notes:

Bonnie emphasized that these were activities that your child would be able to do independently after a very brief teaching and introduction time by you, thereby allowing you to work with your older children without distraction, as needed, during your school day or whenever.  Doing these activities will give your child a feeling of achievement and confidence because they’ve learned skills and are able to complete the activities by themselves. They’ll gain a sense of independence, in the good sense of the word.

Remember, Bonnie talked about “contracts” which are the “work” which your preschooler is assigned to do during the time frame allotted.  On an 8-1/2 x 11 inch piece of paper, indicate using pictures, the activities which they are to do.  For example: a picture of a squirrel, might direct them to a cupboard or shelf with a squirrel on it, where the next activity would be located.  Having already done the activity with them, they are able to do it by themselves.  They mark (in any number of ways–you can be creative) on the contract when they have completed the activity. They do the activities in order.
Bonnie said she would prepare a number of “contracts” during the summer and then as she used them during the school year, she would rotate the contracts about every two weeks. (If you have not read Part 1 yet, go back and read Bonnie’s ideas and explanation of “contracts” there.)

Matching and Categorizing Skills

Materials:  Patterned fabric swatches each affixed to a piece of paper

  • Stripes
  • Checks
  • Plaids
  • Prints
  • Polka-dots
  • and Plain


A large piece of paper with the different patterns drawn on squares (you can draw them in black and white).  Your child places the fabric swatches on the square that they match.


Cards displaying different kinds of cars and furniture (use magazine photos).

Activity and Goal:

To categorize and put them together with the cards they’re associated with.

Organizing Skills:


  • Story Puzzles: Place the pieces left to right in the order the events took place
  • Pictures: Example=Place the pictures in the order of Eating an ice cream cone: 1) A whole ice cream cone 2) a partially eaten ice cream cone 3) a completely eaten ice cream cone (or just a little cone left)
  • “Media Materials”: 4-scene sequence cards (non-reading) Putting an event in its proper order

Math Skills:

Use LARGE numbers and make a number line to put on your child’s bedroom wall (butcher paper works)

Continuing a Pattern:

  • A pattern of shape and color: They have to follow the pattern laid out on the card. e.g. a blue square followed by an orange circle followed by a red triangle. They place the appropriate colored pieces in the continuing pattern.
  • Beads and string: they put the beads on the string to continue the pattern begun. (Other Preschool Games and Learning Activities here
  • Coloring the next shape in the appropriate color/pattern
  • Egg cartons: Write numerals on the bottom of each compartment of the carton.  They have to find something that there’s that number of: You provide, for example, 3 shoelaces, 2 Bandaids, 1 pingpong ball, 4 buttons, etc. You may choose to use larger items, or more colorful, for younger children.
  • Make cards with the word for the color: for example, “Red,” and on the backside of the card is the color red.
  • Make sample pictures and shapes which they can make by placing craft sticks/tongue depressors on the lines.
  • Using cards with the colored shapes printed on them, they have to place the colored block into the appropriate shape (Discovery Toys)

Learning The Alphabet:

Use LARGE letters (printed on butcher paper or other long strip of paper) to place the alphabet on your child’s bedroom wall.

  • Cut out colorful mittens: one set with the Uppercase letters written one letter on each mitten, and one set with lowercase letters. Activity: they have to find the matching mitten with the lowercase letter on it.  Use plastic clips to attach to a piece of string hung between two points, like a clothesline.  Again, go left to right. Preschool Tracing Worksheets here
  • “Wiener dog” puzzle:  Draw the back and front ends of the “wiener dog” and the object is to “Help the Dog Grow.”  The front of the dog has the letter “A” on it and they place the pieces (construction paper with the letters of the alphabet) in the order they go in (left to right).
  • Have a “B” day:  Make little “bugs/beetles” and place around the outline of the letter.  Make food that starts with the letter “B” (bananas, bread, butter, beef, biscuits, etc.)

Another resource I found is where you will find Preschool resources and printables!
Stay tuned for Part 3 of Learning Activities and Teaching Ideas for Preschoolers!
About Bonnie:
Bonnie Anderson is a gracious and creative woman with a big heart, an infectious laugh and a desire to help families succeed in raising and teaching their children.  She has been a Home School consultant with Teach Institute and Accreditation Association for 25 years, helping families achieve their goals.

She is constantly on the lookout for the best children’s literature out there, having a personal library with over 20,000 titles, featuring Historical Fiction, and picture books. Especially seeking the old beloved out-of-print books, she sells duplicates of the best of her collection.

She is a former Kindergarten teacher, whose mother and father were both teachers. Bonnie has also taught Art to elementary-aged children in a private school.  She loves to use her creative and artistic talents to make the subject she is teaching come alive!

Besides working with other families and children, she is wife to husband, John, and mother to two grown sons, both of whom were Homeschooled, Ben (married to Kari) and Dan.
post signature

6 Replies to “Children’s Work: Play That is Really Learning (Part 2)”

Comments are closed.