Preschoolers love to play. They enjoy having fun, just as children of all ages do, and they learn about themselves and others through the games they play. Teach kids new games to play to introduce concepts and ideas you want to teach, and give them a toy box full of options to enjoy with their friends and siblings.
Keep the game as simple as you can. Little kids will often follow rules laid out very carefully and will hold one another accountable to those rules. You shouldn’t need to overcomplicate a game with a series of rules, consequences and what-ifs. Give the goal of the game, which should only last a few seconds or minutes, and one or two rules to remember. Play that game again and again to give everyone a turn.
Preschoolers are just learning to interact properly with others. Use games to teach them how to be fair and kind to others, even while aiming for a goal. When playing an active game such as tag, explain the goal, which is to touch another player or to run away from the one who is “it.” Explain what the children are allowed to do (run and tap) and what they are not allowed to do (hit or push.)
To keep it simple, you may find it easier to introduce a game that urges children to compete against their own abilities. Plastic bowling sets offer young children an opportunity to test their skills. Set up the set in your classroom, home or center. Have kids take turns rolling the ball to hit pins. Show kids the line behind which they must stand. Such an individual challenge also avoids any hurt feelings as preschoolers develop at different ages.
Games are important for young children because they keep them moving. Not only does this discourage obesity and unhealthiness, but it also helps kids develop agility, balance and self-awareness. Set up simple obstacle courses or balancing beams, with boards or tape strips on the floors. Have kids take turns walking or running through the course to keep them moving and learning.
One advantage of young children is their active imagination. Even your equipment can be simple when you are setting up games for little ones. Hula hoops serve as circles to stand in, to hop from, to jump through or to toss. Beanbags and other soft materials are great for throwing or tossing between kids. Use your imagination to tie your equipment into the theme or unit your child loves or studies.
- happy boy with a hoop image by Cherry-Merry from Fotolia.com